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Flames Singe Penguins in Shootout – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Flames Singe Penguins in Shootout

The Penguins fell just short of a clean sweep of their swing through Western Canada last night, dropping a taut 4-3 decision to Calgary in a shootout.

“I felt like we had our chances,” said Sidney Crosby, who snapped a seven-game goal drought with his league-best 35th tally of the season. “But it was a pretty good hockey game both ways.”

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“Our guys are competing hard,” added coach Mike Sullivan. “And that’s what I admire most about them.”

Conor Sheary opened the scoring at 2:54 of the first period with his 20th goal of the campaign, thanks to a nifty passing play. Crosby reversed direction in the corner and fed a short pass to Jake Guentzel to the right of the Flames’ net. Guentzel quickly moved the puck to Sheary, who slipped into the slot undetected and beat Brian Elliott to the stick side.

Old friend Deryk Engelland knotted the score for the home team 11 minutes later when he cruised down the right side of the visitor’s zone and beat Marc-Andre Fleury on a deflection.

Two minutes later our guys regained the edge. Working a beautiful give-and-go with Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin struck from the doorstep for a power-play goal.

Winners of nine-straight entering the contest, the red-hot Flames pushed back. Dennis Wideman scored on a knuckler from long range early in the second period to tie the score at 2-2. At 5:22 of the third Calgary grabbed the lead, courtesy of a slashing call to Phil Kessel and a brilliant individual effort by Johnny Gaudreau.

After gathering speed in his own end, the slick little winger burst past Tom Kuhnhackl in the neutral zone before turning Ron Hainsey inside out with bit of on-ice trickery.

He fooled Fleury, too. Flower dallied at the far post while Gaudreau streaked behind the net and deposited the puck into a wide-open cage on a wraparound.

Crosby countered for the black and gold in the waning moments on an equally remarkable play. Taking a pass from Brian Dumoulin, Guentzel fed Sheary at the top of the left circle. The spunky winger wasted little time, snapping off a rising shot. As only Sid can do, No. 87 arrived at the crease, deadened his stick, and miraculously deflected the puck home to tie the game.

Having regained the initiative, the Pens had a golden opportunity to steal two points in overtime when Mark Giordano took an ill-advised slashing penalty. But Elliott held firm.

The Ontario native loomed large in the shootout as well, stifling a Murder’s Row of Malkin, Crosby and Kessel. Meanwhile, in another amazing display of skill, Flames veteran Kris Versteeg roofed the puck from an impossible angle to secure a record-tying 10th consecutive win for his team.

“It was a competitive game,” noted Sullivan. “It was a fairly even game. It could have went either way. It’s a shame it’s got to end in a shootout. It was two pretty good teams going at it.”

Ice Chips

The Pens earned seven of a possible eight points on the western portion of the road trip.

The black and gold outshot the Flames, 35-30, and won 51 percent of the faceoffs.

Kunitz moved up to the second line in place of the injured Carl Hagelin. Josh Archibald joined Scott Wilson and Nick Bonino on the third line; Carter Rowney and Oskar Sundqvist skated with Tom Kuhnhackl.

Mark Streit exited in the first period with an apparent lower-body injury after blocking a shot. He was taken to a hospital for evaluation. No word of yet as to the nature or severity of the injury.

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11 Comments

  1. JIM's Gravatar JIM
    March 15, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Hey Guys and Gals,
    Take a look over your shoulder. Who just won 4 games straight and is 7-2-1? Tied with the NY Islanders. Our dear friends in Tampa Bay. I think I mentioned them a few months back. We all worry about playing the Cap’s. We can beat the Cap’s if we are healthy ! We are in their heads.
    A 100 % healthy Tampa Bay, ( and they were not healthy last year when we played them )…. They are the ones I lose sleep over in our conference !! Followed by Columbus, just because of the unknown factor. With Torts you never know what you will get come pressure time.He blows up at his players, as he has been known to do, then it’s all over.The star players get mad and stop playing and say ” see ya later Coach” !!
    Who knows which team will show up ?
    Looking over our other shoulder,somebody just went 8-2 and beat the Wild. Again. Chicago ! These guys are for real and they never truly go away. Look at Kane ! ( Reminds me of my ex mother in law when I have the pleasure to meet her unexpectedly at the Mall and she just smiles and gives you the look…
    I told her not to marry you, That is the same kind of the feeling I get with Chicago. You can never count them out.They are really that good.
    I wish they were not. But I would be fooling myself.
    We need to win in Philly to keep pace. Every game is important now.
    With regards to Sprong, he had a shoulder injury in October /November so it took awhile for him to get going again. I watched him play in Moncton and he was impressive. He has probably put 10-12 pounds on to his upper body and he is strong on the puck now. Plus the biggest difference is now he waits for the play to come to him. To me that is the difference between College/ Major Junior hockey and the AHL/ NHL game. It is not physical as much as it is mental.Much faster mentally. He is a NHL caliber player for sure.
    I hope he gets a chance to play in the Cup finals this year…He deserves it. Truthfully we did not really treat him well by calling him up to soon to the NHL last season. So maybe, with the right combination of injuries we may see him.
    But I doubt it. Always next year…

    Cheers

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      March 15, 2017 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      There are a lot of good teams out there this year. I agree with you in that I am not as concerned about the Caps as some of the other teams, particularly CBJ, Chi, Min, and LA.

      I will say this though, I am less worried about what those teams do right but what the Pens aren’t doing right. When completely healthy, I am not sure any team could skate with the Pens, but I don’t see the Pens getting close to being healthy. Their inability to clear their own zone may keep a revolving door to the Hospital Ward. And without a complete lineup of their big guns they will have a tough time repeating.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        March 15, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

        Great analysis.
        You know Coach, after reading your comments and agreeing with you….I can NOT say I believe we will not have further injuries.Honestly based on past experience I expect the Flyers to injure some one tonight.
        Is it the way we play or having the wrong players to do the job?

        • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
          March 15, 2017 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

          Agreed Jim,

          I think the Pens are going to fight the injury bug the rest of the season and may see another player go down tonight.

          I don’t think there is anything wrong with the way the team plays. I love what Sullivan tries to do, high paced in your face checking with quick strike forwards that will turn you inside out in a heart beat. So that leaves the players.

          I bleed black and gold and want all the players to have the best seasons they can. However, the Pens have assmbled too small of a team to have played as many games as they have had to play in in the passed year and with the crosshairs they have been wearing all season.

          The team played so many games last year, they haven’t had time to recover fully from the war that was last play-offs. Add to that the fact that they are the Champs and everyone is gunning for them and have had a chance to watch them, analyze their attack and try to adjust their games. Part of that adjustment has been to hit the undersized D every chance they get.

          The hits eventually slowed them down, maybe only half a step, but slowed them down never the less, so they aren’t getting the pucks out as fast as they were last year. With the D not getting the puck out opponents are getting more shots. The Skaters are having to block all those shots injuring them even more.

          If the Pens don’t repeat this year I really believe that the biggest reasons were one move that they made a couple of years back and one move they failed to make this off season.

          I know that Rick loves Lovejoy and I will admit that Lovejoy did a good job last year but had the Pens not made that trade and kept Despres, a big mobile D man, the team would have been infinitely better off. As well as Lovejoy played in the playoffs, I a fairly certain Despres would have played better, particularly under Sullivan.

          The second part of the problem I still believe lies in the Pens failure to move MAF this passed off-season. I am really glad that MAF has had a couple of good outings lately but even if the Pens had only accepted a 2nd round pick for MAF from Cgy, the $$$$ saved dould easily have been used to bring in big, young, fresh legs.

          The only thing that I think Sullie could have done that he didn’t do would have been to give older players like Cullen and Kuntiz as well as stars that have not had much of a break like Crosby and Malkin healthy rest days along the way, particularly when laying weaker opponents. I also do not think that he did the team any favors by not playing Kuhnhackl more as well as waiting this long to bring Sundqvist up and use him.

          I do think that the Pens need to get over their aversion to bigger players and start playing some. I think giving Sestito a regular 4th line role and not just using him as a goon deterent would have also helped the team greatly.

  2. Jayelene's Gravatar Jayelene
    March 14, 2017 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Hi Rick,
    Nice article, as usual … thank you! A disappointing night in Calgary, but all-in-all, a great road trip. (Who thought at the outset that we’d pick up seven of eight points!?) Except, of course, that the injury avalanche continues. I can’t recall a time where a team I’ve followed (in any sport) has been inundated with injuries like this. I’m trying to spin it in my own mind that maybe it’s not such a bad thing – everyone will be nice and rested when the playoffs finally arrive. But if it was such a good thing, I think coaches would be voluntarily sitting their players for long stretches as the playofffs approach, and we don’t see that happening. Here’s to everybody getting healthy, and soon!

    On a totally unrelated tangent, as you know I’m prone to take … what (if any) are the changes of the Pens bringing Sprong into the fold?

    Jayelene

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      March 14, 2017 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jaylene,

      Sprong is in the Jrs and has to wait for the Jr season to be over before he comes up. He is scheduled to report to WBS at that point. He Currently has 31G and 21A in 28GP and is a +31 for his Jr team.

      There were some who suggested that Sprong needed to work on his D and apparently he has with that +31. I guess there is a chance he may get called up at some point for the play offs when they expand the roster, but I doubt it.

      But next year should be interesting.

      • Jayelene's Gravatar Jayelene
        March 14, 2017 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, Other Rick. The plus 31 is impressive, so it would seem he’s doing something right, other than putting the puck in the net. But I’m with you – let’s hope his call up can wait until next year. All these injuries have me biting my nails, but I’d hate to seem them have to resort to a trial by fire with a young player of Sprong’s potential.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      March 14, 2017 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for getting back to Jaylene, Other Rick. And for explaining the situation regarding Sprong.

      From what I was able to gather from a recent article, the Pens consider Sprong NHL-ready offensively. But as Other Rick suggested, they wanted him to improve his play away from the puck.

      No question he’s a glittering young talent. Speaking of, the Pens signed forward Zach Aston-Reese today. Apparently, this is quite a coup. The kid led the NCAA in goals and points and plays a power game. Not huge, but at 6’0″ 204 big enough…especially by Penguins standards.

      Jim Rutherford likened him to Hornqvist in terms of style. Already can’t wait to see him in the black and gold … 🙂

      Rick

      • Jayelene's Gravatar Jayelene
        March 15, 2017 at 12:04 am | Permalink

        That’s encouraging news, Rick. We all know how much the Pens could benefit from having another power forward!

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        March 15, 2017 at 6:43 am | Permalink

        Hey Rick,

        I may have read the same article on Aston-Reese. It said he was averaging almost 2pnts per game and hinted that he may get a chance to play with the big boys this year. I can’t help wonder if that is more of a testement to the hospital ward the Pens dressing room has become.

        However, if Aston-Reese and Sprong are as bright as these articles are suggesting it should spark some interesting discussions in the off-season and suely should help WBS now, since we have all their players with us here in Pittsburgh.

        But tonight it is our cross-state rivals and they always play us hard. Got to stay focused and finish the road trip on an up note, especially since it is a divisional game.

        Speaking of the Flyers, I read an interesting article on the NHL web-site regarding the Flyers. The article was apparently part of a series of articles on the Stanley Cup, which turns 125 but focused on the Road Runner. The whole article was good but I am not going into everything, but it reminded me of their sweep of the Flyers in 1976 ending the Reign of Terror of the Broadstreet Bullies, and that was pretty much the way the article viewed it. Cournyer talked about how he and his team mates felt an urgency to win that Cup so that other teams wouldn’t try and copy the Flyers Thug style of hockey

        With the Flyers still mathematically in the hunt, down by 7 points in the standings with about 14 games to go I doubt tonight will be a picnic.

        • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
          March 15, 2017 at 9:21 am | Permalink

          Hey Rick,

          I looked a little more at Aston-Reese. Apparently the Scouting reports suggest that he is a solid bottom six who plays hard in all three zones. His goal scoring is the garbage type, rebounds and tip ins; pretty much what the Pens need. Four of his goals this past season were SHGs. He is listed as a C/RW who shoots L.

          The reports I read also said he really doesn’t have the speed to play top 6.

          He is listed as 72″ 204lbs, that is gigantic in Pens terms.

          Everything I read suggest he may be what you, me and Jim may want to see really isn’t the Pens style though, fairly big an not fleet of foot, with a heavy game.


            

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