Penguins Jolt Jets in OT – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Jolt Jets in OT

I had my lead-in for last night’s Penguins-Jets game all but written.

In deference to the upcoming Academy Awards, I’d nominated Marc-Andre Fleury for Best Performance by a Losing Goalie. Perfectly fitting, given that “Flower” literally stood on his head to make 44 saves. None more spectacular that his sensational glove save on Nikolaj Ehlers with 2:10 left in overtime.


Rarely in recent memory has Fleury been as sharp, or looked so confident. He challenged shooters, gobbled up shots with that rapier-like glove hand and made exceedingly tough saves look ridiculously easy. Heck, No. 29 even handled the puck with skill and aplomb.

Too bad the Pens went and spoiled my plans by winning (kidding, of course). In dramatic comeback fashion, to boot.

I’ve watched a lot of hockey. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything to match that overtime. Talk about drama. There were enough undertones and plot twists packed into four minutes and thirty-eight seconds to do an Oscar winning epic proud.

For starters, Chris Kunitz delivered a little payback to the ultra-physical Jets by dishing out two bone-crunching checks. Phil Kessel, who notched the tying goal with six minutes to play in regulation on a sizzling snap shot, went against type by hounding Winnipeg sensation Patrik Laine off the puck with a defensive effort worthy of a Selke winner.

Then Evgeni Malkin gathered in a long pass from Kris Letang and drove straight for the net. Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba tried to stop the big Russian, to no avail. Malkin plowed ahead and swept the puck into the crease before tumbling into the end boards. In typical hustling fashion, Sidney Crosby outraced Mark Scheifele to the loose rubber and fired it home.

Penguins 4, Jets 3.

It was only fitting that Sid and Geno—the Two-Headed Monster of yore—did the honors. After all, Crosby recorded his 1000th career point earlier in the evening on a play that seemed to combine all the elements of his game: speed, aggression, tenacity, vision and an uncanny knack for finding the open man in traffic. In this case, long-time linemate Kunitz.

And Malkin? Well, let’s just say No. 71 woke his teammates up. Or delivered the hit that was heard way up in Manitoba. Take your pick.

The Jets, you see, were having their way with our boys, big time. After yielding two first-period goals, they resorted to doing what they do best.

Namely hitting. Hard and often.

Led by Adam Lowry, who made road kill of any Penguin who crossed his path, the Jets began littering the PPG Paints Arena ice with black-and-gold clad bodies.

Justin Schultz crumbled after his head rattled off the glass in bobblehead fashion, courtesy of a hard check by the “Big Buff,” Dustin Byfuglien. Olli Maatta was felled a short time later in a head-on collision with Lowry. He went to the bench flexing his left hand.

Neither Penguin returned.

Down to four defensemen, the locals evinced a deer-in-the-headlights look. Especially after Winnipeg pulled even on a long-range shot by Paul Postma early in the third before snatching the lead on a wraparound by Byfuglien. The lone softie allowed by Fleury.

Malkin decided to give the Jets a taste of their own medicine. He delivered a little chin music, in baseball parlance, driving a shoulder into the noggin of unsuspecting Blake Wheeler.

Down went the Jets’ captain. Mark Stuart flew at Malkin. Scott Wilson grabbed Stuart. A ruckus ensued in front of the Pens’ bench.

Kessel tied the score 171 ticks later. Then came overtime and Sid and Geno’s heroics, with a little help from Fleury.

Guess I’ll need to come up with a new awards category.

How about Best Record by a Hockey Team When Leading After Two Periods?

The Pens are 63-0 since the start of the 2015-16 season.

Ice Chips

Crosby is the 12th fastest player in NHL history to reach 1000 points, accomplishing the feat in 757 games. Sid’s the third player to reach that milestone wearing a Penguins uniform, behind Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr.

Winnipeg outshot the Pens, 47-39, including 33-18 over the final two periods. The Jets out-hit us, too (49-38). The home team won the faceoff battle, 34-31.

No word yet on the nature or severity of the injuries to Schultz and Maatta.

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  1. Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
    February 17, 2017 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Hey all,

    I think Jim may have mentioned this already, but I’ll go ahead and post a quick update.

    It looks like Maatta’s expected to miss six weeks. A shame…he was starting to round into form of late.

    The Pens have called up Cameron Gaunce and Steve Oleksy from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

    No word (as of 3 PM) on Schultz, although I’m guessing by the recalls he’s not expected to play against Columbus. The way his head got rattled, it sure didn’t look too good last night.


    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      February 17, 2017 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      Hey Rick et al,

      Since we are talking about it I just read this from Shawn Roarke of the NHL.com website. Figured Iwould throw it out there to see what others thoughts.

      The six-week absence of defenseman Olli Maatta is not as bad it seems for the Pittsburgh Penguins. At first blush, losing him for at least a month and a half is a big blow as the Penguins look to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. But a closer look suggests things are not as bad as they seem.

      Maatta, who had surgery Friday after injuring his left hand during the second period of a 4-3 overtime victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, should be back for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was averaging 18:01 of ice time per game.
      While injured, Maatta, who has a salary-cap charge of $4.083 million this season, can be placed on long-term injured reserve (LTIR), giving the Penguins some much-needed cap flexibility as they try to pursue a trade to further bolster themselves. Pittsburgh is second in the Eastern Conference and the Metropolitan Division, behind the Washington Capitals.

      General manager Jim Rutherford had already stated, before the Maatta injury, that he would like to add proven depth on defense. Now that becomes even more of a priority, especially if Justin Schultz, who also sustained an unspecified injury Thursday, is out for an extended period.

      If placed on LTIR, Maatta, 22, could be activated for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when the salary cap is no longer in play.
      Rutherford also has the option of trading goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who is now the backup to Matt Murray. That would give him even more salary-cap space. Fleury, 32, has a $5.75 million cap charge for this and each of the next two seasons.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        February 17, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

        Great research Coach.
        Absolutely right once play offs start the Cap no longer applies.We can roster more players as well.
        Smart move.

        Following that logic we could pray that MAF could sustain an injury that he too could be put on LTR, just enough injury until mid April….use his cap as u suggest and go for broke at trade deadline.
        9.8 mill.?? Then we got the best of both worlds.

        Of course what we are suggesting violates the CBA unless it happens naturally. I am believer of the possibility of getting stuck by lighting…twice.

  2. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    February 17, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Hi Rick,
    1002 points in 757 games played. 12 Fastest in NHL history.
    Congratulations Mr. Crosby ! It has been fun to watch.

    Even more impressive to me, is the table the NHL posted today.
    ( Minimum 500 games played.)
    Points per game average.

    1. # 99 1.92 PPG Wayne Gretzky
    2. # 66 1.88 PPG Mario Lemieux
    3. # 22 1.50 PPG Mike Bossy
    4. # 4 1.39 PPG Bobby Orr
    5. # 87 1.32 PPG MR.CROSBY

    I think that says it ALL !!

    Living legend ???

    Cheers 🙂

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      February 17, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      That is some company to keep; Gretzky, Lemieux, Bossy, and Orr.

      One of things that struck me last night about Crosby is how much he has matured. It appeared to me that the Penalty he drew was a premeditated one. It looked like he was well aware that the refs were ripe for a perceived make-up call so he decided to put on a bit of clinic to draw Byfigulen across the line. Under Bylsma and MJ, in the past he would of simply whined at the refs. Now he may have said something to set up in the refs mind the idea of a make-up call, but he kept focused on the game; in all of its facets.

      He really deserved a double assist for that tying goal; one for helping get the puck to Kessel and one for setting up the situation to begin with.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      February 17, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      I agree 100%. Not to diminish what the others have achieved in any way, but if you watch film from days gone by there was TONS of room on the ice. Not to mention 5’9” goalies wearing skinny brown pads and playing a standup style.

      It sure isn’t like that anymore. Makes Sid’s accomplishment all the more impressive.

      Also agree with your comments a few posts back about kids like Matthews, McDavid and Laine. My word, are they lighting it up.


      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        February 17, 2017 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

        Hey Rick, Coach…
        One sad thing to note when looking at that chart…

        The others players in the league could not stop Orr so they beat the knees off him.
        The other players in the League could not stop Bossy so they beat his back spine so he could hardly skate.
        The other players in the league could not stop Crosby so they illegally checked him in the head and caused his concussions. In more vulgar terms they tried to separate his head from his body. Because they could not stop him.
        Mario’s unfortunate cancer issues and medical treatments shortened his brilliant career. I can not fault the league for that but indeed Mario suffered a lot of holding and cheap shots in his career as well.
        I just wonder what if….Orr had healthy knees,Bossy had a healthy back, Sid had no concussions and Mario had no health issues, What would their numbers be today?

        Only to dream…..All very special people and all very special Hockey players.

        • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
          February 17, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

          Hey Jim,

          Amen to that. All we can do is wonder what those careers would have looked like had the league did something about protecting those special players.

          Speaking of which, what are the odds that Dubinsky and crew will take liberties with Crosby again tonight and get away with it.

  3. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    February 17, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    To go back to an article you wrote just a couple of days ago, it appears that agent 00 71 really does like his oppenents shaken not stirred. He appears to have a license to thrill. His pass to set up Crosby for the game winner was off the chain. In real time watching the play, I couldn’t really see what was going on. I just thought Crosby got lucky, in the right place at the right time to jump on a loose puck, but no; in slo mo replay that big old Russian who wasn’t good enough to crack the top 100 players of all time, with eyes in the back of his head didn’t lose control of the puck, he slipped a deft little pass to open ice where his partner in crime Sid the Kid was waiting to close out the game.

    I was really hoping to see MAF get a shut out. He deserves to have something good happen to him this year. It would have awoken some people to see that he still can be a Starting G.

    Let’s not forget Letang who had 3 assists and sprung Malkin to set up the GW. And as you mention Kunitz playing the role of the designated hitter helped give the Jets a taste of their own medicine. Last night really was a throw back game where the most senior stars of the Pens stood up and were counted.

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      February 17, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Sorry about the typo; Opponent not Oppenent.

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      February 17, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Hey Other Rick,

      So many different impressions and thoughts.

      First, Flower. Man, was he sharp. I don’t remember when I’ve seen him look that good. He was in command of all facets of his game. Like you, I was pulling like mad for him to get a shutout. Thought he just might get one, too.

      Then we lose two defensemen and can’t get the puck out of our end. I felt so bad for him after the third one went in. We’re down 3-2 and it’s totally not his fault.

      Then Agent 0071 stepped up. Or stepped into Blake Wheeler, is more like it. Geno’s got a ton of guts…he ran Lowry into the boards earlier in the game. I actually feared a little bit for his safety. The Jets are a big, tough team, and they meant to do us harm. After the Wheeler hit and ensuing melee in front of the Pens’ bench, they were chipping and chopping him every time he stepped on the ice.

      It just made Geno all the more determined.

      To get on my soapbox for the 999th time, that’s why I wish we had a couple of guys to handle the policing chores. It doesn’t happen very often, but once in a while we run into a foe like Winnipeg that just completely overwhelms us, physically. I mean, we were dropping like flies.

      It got to the point where I thought Sullivan might have to keep Sid and Geno off the ice to protect them. Shouldn’t come to that, but the reality is sometimes it does.

      Anyway, I couldn’t be more pleased with our collective heart and resilience. I just hope Schultz and Maatta are okay. Not to jinx him, but the violent side-to-side head movement on the Schultz hit was a textbook setup for a concussion.


      PS—Regarding Malkin … is he Agent double-naught-seven-one in Jethro Bodine-speak?

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        February 17, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

        Well Rick, if it was agent double naught 71, then was that one of Ellie’s biscuits Jethro served up, in the guise of a fry cook, to Sid to bury in the back of the net?

        Sorry, maybe I am getting carried away with this. I’ll stop.

        I hear you about physical teams and it won’t get any easier tonight. I have to wonder if JR will try and up the ante at the dead line and pick up one or two bigger D men to bolster the roster, particularly if either or both Schultz or Maatta will be out for any protracted period.

        It is a shame that Allen and Hutton have stepped up their game, so as much as I liked Jim’s proposal of MAF, Maatta, and Pouliot for Shattenkirk, Bortuzzo, and Allen isn’t even a wild dream anymore

        I missed both the hit on Schultz and Maatta. Listening to Steigy during the game it sounded like he though Byfigulien’s hit should have been a boarding call. I don’t really listen too much to his opinion, so what did you think, was it a cheap shot or was it unfurtunate but clean?

        I did think that the Refs blew the Malkin incident. Malkin did look like his skates were up a little but that call should have been an even up call not a Jet power play.

        • Jim's Gravatar Jim
          February 17, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

          Hey Coach,
          Maatta could be gone 6 weeks, according to the article below and another site said it could be even longer. They are checking Schultz as well. How long does Letang hold up if he has to play in a physical series like last night and for 28 minutes plus a game ?
          His 3 assists were huge last night for us.
          Except for the heroics mentioned above, the over sized Jets plastered us all night. Would you like to play these guys in a best of seven? The Jets were not even considered to make the playoffs at the start of the season.
          I am praying and holding my breath every time we have to play the ” BIG ” teams. Yes the boys came back last night and it was a great win…but at what cost moving forward ?
          Tonight we play Columbus and you can bet they watched video tape today and they will continue to play very physical with us tonight? Letang will have a target on his back…..
          Hope I am wrong, but your singing to the choir…We need size !

          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            February 17, 2017 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

            Hey Jim,

            I just saw an article about that. The article also included my musings about maybe JR starting to look a little harder for some bigger D men.

            According to the article I read the Pens recalled both Oleksy and Gaunce, so I would suspect that Schultz will be some time as well.

        • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
          February 17, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

          Hey Other Rick,

          Speaking of Ellie’s cookin’, I remember a “Beverly Hillbillies” episode where she was boiling rocks for her garden and Jethro mistook them for grits.

          As he was eating them, he gazed at the camera with that sheepish expression of his and said, “These rock grits sets a might heavy on a feller’s stomach.”

          I thought I’d never stop laughing … 🙂


          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            February 17, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

            Well, Okay, Just One More,

            Here is hoping for agent double naught 71 to do some cypherin’ tonight, or more to the point, gizzintas. Here is hopin’ Ellie’s biscuts gizzinta the Jackets net 5 or 6 times for double naught 71 and the boys or at least 1 more time than it gizzinta the Pens net.

            • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
              February 17, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

              I’m going waaaaaay off on a tangent.

              Do you remember the episode where Jethro was a double-naught spy and he taped a transistor radio to his boot heel and made his hat bullet-proof by iron-plating it?

              The radio would start playing when he walked. And he’d be in a hurry and throw on his hat without thinking and knock himself out … 🙂

              Okay, I’ll stop now … 🙂


            • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
              February 17, 2017 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

              Yep I remember that one. He talked Drysdale into letting him have an office with a oneway mirror that was intalled the wrong way so he was making a fool of himself trying to see the people on the otherside of the mirror while they were watching him.


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