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Penguins Update: That’s More Like It – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Penguins Update: That’s More Like It

Before you think I’ve taken permanent leave of my senses, let me explain. I decided on the title of this post immediately following the first period of last night’s 5-4 overtime victory over the Rangers, when the Penguins played arguably their finest 20 minutes of the season.

I changed my mind during an ugly second period, when the Pens unraveled like a loosely wound skein of yarn. Then, when they came back to win it, thanks to a bit of last-minute Sidney Crosby magic and an Evgeni Malkin dagger in overtime, I thought… what the heck.

 

And it was great to see the Pens actually resemble their Cup champion selves of the past couple of years, if only in spurts. It means there’s hope they’ll eventually put it all together for a full 60 minutes. And, work of art or not, we did earn two points. It sure beats the alternative.

In particular, I was pleased with the play of our second line, which, like the team, had gotten off to a sluggish start this season. The HGK Line collected three of the Pens’ goals and accounted for eight points overall.

Leading the way was Malkin, who turned in a vintage performance. The big center notched the overtime winner and assisted on three other tallies for a four-point night. In typical “Geno” fashion, he stood up for himself and the team by swapping punches with Blueshirts defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk early in the third period.

Phil Kessel likewise returned to form. In the first minute of play, he raced into the New York zone and beat Henrik Lundqvist for a blocker-side goal to set the tone. “Phil the Thrill” also authored two crucial assists, setting up Patric Hornqvist and Malkin with nifty net-front feeds.

Carl Hagelin came alive as well. Flashing his world-class wheels, the speedy Swede unleashed six shots against his former team and beat Lundqvist with a top-shelf wrister to stake the Pens to an early 2-0 lead.

Unfortunately, the two-goal edge slipped away amid a sea of second-period penalties. Moments after shifty David Desharnais beat Matt Murray to the glove side to cut the Pens’ lead to one, Crosby was issued a double-minor for high-sticking. The Rangers promptly cashed in on a pair of power-play tallies by Pavel Buchnevich and Pittsburgh-native J.T. Miller.

Later in the period, Crosby and Hagelin were issued slashing minors, handing New York a 5-on-3 advantage for nearly two full minutes. But the Pens’ no-name penalty killers—still honing their craft in the wake of off-season defections by Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen—rose to the occasion. Hornqvist knotted the score with two minutes left in the period, banging the puck in from the lip of the crease in his inimitable lunch-pail style.

The Rangers countered midway through the final period on a goal by Michael Grabner. As the game clock ticked down under a minute to play in regulation, it looked like curtains for our boys. But Crosby, determined to atone for his earlier penalties, came up large when his team needed him the most, with a brilliant play to boot.

The sequence began when Hornqvist batted down a flying puck with his glove beside the Rangers’ net. Realizing play would be whistled dead if he touched the puck, Crosby coolly decoyed Shattenkirk into attempting a clear. Once the Rangers’ d-man played the puck, Sid pounced, whipping a backhander toward Lundqvist from a sharp angle. The rubber struck “King Henrik’s” pads and somehow slipped in, setting the stage for Malkin’s game winner.

Puckpourri

With an assist on Hagelin’s goal, Olli Maatta collected his seventh point of the season, matching his 2016-17 point total. Malkin, Kessel and Justin Schultz each paced the Pens with a plus three.

Murray yielded three goals during a 2:30 stretch of the second period, but regained his composure to make 28 saves on the night, 13 during the third period.

Defenseman Matt Hunwick sustained a concussion during a recent team practice and did not play. Ian Cole, who missed the past three games after losing several teeth, returned to the lineup. Wearing a Plexiglas shield to protect his mouth, the gritty defender registered three hits and a game-high five blocked shots in 17:52 of ice time.

Sully Sez

“What I love about our group is that we stick to it, we just stay with it,” said coach Mike Sullivan. “It was an ugly win, but it was a win.”

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11 Comments

  1. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    October 18, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    First off, looking at last years record in comparison to this years record at this point in the season, they are exactly the same, 4-2-1. We still won the Cup last year. Mathematically, there still is hope for a 3-peat.

    I am one of those who always espouses Sully’s assessment that you quoted; “it was an ugly win, but it was a win”. There are no style points, collecting Ws is all that matters. However, when half a teams Ws are ugly Ws, there is something troubling;

    1) Reaves only played 3 min and some change. He only played 1 shift in both the 2nd and 3rd periods. If the Pens had to play again tonight; Goodnight! Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, etc would be dragging their tails due to the lack of that 4th line.

    Speaking of Reaves, looking at his expanded +/- stats, he is on the ice for 5.91 goals against for 60 minutes (GA/60) of even strength ice time. Wow! an double Wow! Conversely, he is only on the ice for 1.48 goals for per 60 minutes of even strength ice time. I am glad he isn’t getting more ice time than he does.

    The only forward on the team who seems worse than Reaves when it comes to even strength defense is Conor Sheary; his GA/60 is 6.61. In Sheary’s defense, his GF/60 is 4.41, third on the team.

    Other random thoughts;

    Getting Cole back, I would like to think is a win. He has struggled so far this season, but I think he can get it together; look at the blocked shot totals with him back.

    I hate to see anyone hurt, but it seems to me that Ruhwedel still in the line up is another win (rather than Hunwick.

    Letang and Schultz are both struggling this year. Letang’s GA/60 (since I am looking at that is my stat du jours) is 5.19, Schultz’ is much better but still very troublesome at 4.06. If the team is to 3-peat, these guys have to pick it up; particularly Letang who is wearing an “A”. If he wants to be a team leader, then lead the team in the right direction, not the wrong direction.

    Pedan is a +3 down in WBS; just saying. Also, Corrado (although I am not fan but simply reporting and, Czuczman are also +3. Bengtsson is a -1 (Letang is a -4), but has 3 Assists in 4 games.

    Am I trying to stir something up? Well, maybe

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      October 18, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Oh in the way of stirring things up, Sprong has 6 points in his first 4 games in WBS

      • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
        October 18, 2017 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        Hey TOR,

        That’s great news. You never truly know how someone’s game translates to the pro level until they actually get there and, hopefully, start producing.

        If Sprong can solidify his game away from the puck, at least to the level of Guentzel and Sheary, it shouldn’t be too long before he’s called up.

        Rick

        PS–Speaking of kids, Derrick Pouliot’s played two games with Vancouver. He’s got an assist and 4 PIM.

      • Krundle's Gravatar Krundle
        October 19, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Aston-Reese missed Sundays game to have his wisdom teeth pulled, he also didn’t practice this week. 3 games, zero points.

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      October 18, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      Sorry for adding more before anyone responds but some more food for thought but consider this;

      Will Butcher’s agent suggested that he would have been interested to coming to Pgh; Butcher is +6 and tied for second in the league in scoring among D-men. If he had signed with Pgh would he be toiling away down in WBS like Bengtsson, Pedan, etc, rather than sitting some under-performing veterans?

      Also, how about some Kudos for Maatta, 5th in the league in scoring among D-men; 7 points in 7 games!

    • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
      October 18, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

      Hey Other Rick,

      If Reaves plays any less, he’ll be logging negative minutes … 🙁

      While I love his moxie, I’ll readily admit that I’m disappointed with his play. My initial enthusiasm for the trade was contingent on the fact that the big guy had some game in his game. After all, you don’t get 239 hits (or seven goals) as he did last season by being a total slug.

      But I’ll admit, a few shining moments against Nashville aside, he’s been an unmitigated disaster thus far in terms of blending in and keeping pace. He just doesn’t think the game well enough to compensate for his lack of skill and speed. The very definition of a poor fit.

      I’ve already expressed this a couple of times, but it’s Marty McSorley II. Given that Rutherford’s pretty quick to remedy his mistakes, I fully expect Reaves to be traded, possibly in the Jan.-Feb. time frame (if not sooner)…perhaps to his hometown Winnipeg Jets.

      After that, I’d anticipate the Pens using Tom Sestito against heavier teams, or maybe Pedan or Tinordi.

      Rick

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        October 18, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        Interesting thought Rick,

        Reaves to Winnipeg? So, if you were JR, what would you be looking for? A 3rd line C? Perrault? You may need to sweeten the pot for that. A solid D man? Poolman?

        • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
          October 18, 2017 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

          No disrespect to the big guy, but I think it would take a lot of pot sweetening to get someone substantial for Reaves.

          The only reason I mention Winnipeg as a possible trade partner is:
          a) It’s Reaves’ home town;
          b) The Jets traditionally play a heavy game, and they lost long-time enforcer Chris Thorburn this summer.

          On second thought, maybe Mario does need a good pool man … 🙂

          Rick

        • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
          October 18, 2017 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

          I just realized there actually is a (Tucker) Poolman on the Jets. I thought you were making a joke … 🙂

          Rick

          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            October 18, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

            After your idea of Winnipeg as a trade partner I took a look over their roster to see who I would look for.

      • 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
        October 19, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

        Hi Rick!

        I’m disappointed, too. After seeing Reaves skate with the Blues more than a few times in the past few seasons and how he looked in camp, it’s like I’m watching a completely different player. They either don’t know what to do with him, or he just doesn’t fit.

        Sundqvist has yet to do much in St. Louis, he’s -3 with no points, but he’s skating 14-15 minutes per game. He still hasn’t gotten his defensive game together, but I think the Blues got the better of the deal. Think they’d send him back? Yeah, neither do I.


            

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