The Penguins get back from a long break and go with who they got, which luckily includes Erik Karlsson after a mid-week illness absence.
Ready to battle the Golden Knights pic.twitter.com/1j8gCwdqCW— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 21, 2024
Noel Acciari takes a penalty 3:16 into the game but the Pens kill it off. Drew O’Connor follows him into the box a few minutes later but the PK comes through again.
Shots are 8-6 Vegas in the first 20. Goals are 0-0.
It takes until nearly halfway through the game to break the ice on the scoreboard, and it’s Ryan Graves doing the honors. Graves takes the space he’s given and skates the puck down past the goal-line and banks it off Logan Thompson and into the net. 1-0 Pens.
A spectacular hockey display with Gravy on top. pic.twitter.com/TVdkaLujLu— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 21, 2024
Pittsburgh keeps up the pressure and strikes again. Sidney Crosby takes the puck from off the side wall and pass to Jake Guentzel. A quick snap of the wrists later and Guentzel notches his 20th goal of the season.
Proud to be representing Pittsburgh, Guentzelvania pic.twitter.com/DRDdl7Dn5z— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) January 21, 2024
The Pens win the battle in the second, out-shooting the Golden Knights 14-10 and out-scoring them 2-0.
All the positive vibes for the Penguins go up in smoke. Sometimes when you go to Vegas you win the first hand or two but then lose all your money by the end of the night. In hockey terms, that’s what happened here.
Vegas starts the comeback at 5:18 in. Ivan Barbashev shoots and Tristan Jarry kicks out a rebound. It goes right to Jonathan Marchessault on the doorstep who knocks in the loose puck. 2-1 and momentum has changed.
NO SHUT OUT HERE! pic.twitter.com/bjOxzeTCsM— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 21, 2024
The Knights strike again, Chandler Stephenson skates the puck in and down to the net and centers it. Marcus Pettersson again is left in the lurch for a second time this period when Pavel Dorofeyev cracks it in. 2-2 tie game.
AN ELECTRIC CELLY ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/dKzFLQcrjL— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 21, 2024
Evgeni Malkin goes to the box on a slashing call and Vegas doesn’t score on the power play but do take the lead nine seconds later. Brendan Brisson beats Jarry from distance for hi first career NHL goal. More importantly it gives Vegas a 3-2 lead.
Pittsburgh pulls Jarry with two minutes to go. At the 1:53 mark, Vegas utilizes their timeout.
The Pens can’t get anything going and limp out with the loss.
- It’s not the nice end of the story for the Pens but Brendan Brisson scoring his first career goal with Sidney Crosby on the ice is some sort of poetry. Brisson’s father, Pat, is a big time agent that has been with Crosby since the beginning. Coming as the go-ahead goal in the third, it’s not how Crosby would have liked it.
- Vegas had all the momentum in the third, but boy, you would have liked to see a stop from Jarry on that shot from distance mid-height to the blocker side. He hasn’t let too many go by him in big time situations like that. The loss isn’t all on him, but that was a situation where if a team wants to have a shot, they have to get that save.
- That said, the Pens only had 1 shot on goal in the third period. Vegas scored three goals in the third period. Brutal stuff. It wasn’t goaltending that let them down on this night.
- Also unfortunate and uncharacteristically, Marcus Pettersson got lost in front of the net two times and the puck ended up in the back of the net on both occasions. Weird times, you don’t see that too often and it was a bad beat that showed up on this night.
- Pittsburgh’s roster is weird right now up front. With Colin White on the “third line”, it’s almost like they have two fourth lines. White only played 9:03 total and that was more than his linemate Valtteri Puustinen at 7:57. Tough to beat a good team with two limited minute groups like that.
- The Pens only had one power play. Given how that’s been struggling, maybe that’s not the worst development but it would have been better to get things rolling or the chance to do so.
- Up 2-0 after 40 with no Jack Eichel, no William Karlsson, no Shea Theodore, no Adin Hill. Woof. This one was there for the taking for the Pens and they frittered it away.
- But, on the surface, losing to the defending Cup champions in their building (when already defeating them in Pittsburgh earlier this season) isn’t the worst result. But still, could have and should have been better.
- The extra added pain is that all of the Flyers, Devils and Capitals lost in regulation tonight. The stage was set for the Pens to take a step forward today. Instead, a third period face-plant erased all of that.
The Pens have to lick their wounds and move onto a game against Arizona on Monday.