For the second straight year, the Penguins had to open up the Stanley Cup Playoffs without their starting netminder manning the crease.
The Pens, already understaffed without the likes of Kris Letang, Carl Hagelin, and Chris Kunitz, were dealt another blow during warmups as Murray overextended himself and aggravated something.
Even if people from Ohio could read or write, they wouldn’t have been able to script better news to open up a playoff series. But they don’t have good brains.
Yet, for the Penguins, it was just another day that ends in “y.” And even if the wheels do end up coming off, after last night’s performance, it’ll be v hard not to be proud of this team’s resiliency.
In the opening couple of minutes, the Penguins looked exactly as they were supposed to. The Forever Line really set the tone on their first two shifts with some dominating play. Phil had some chance about 7 minutes in that would’ve brought the house down had he buried it.
Then there was the first commercial break and it gave the Jackets a chance to regroup. Regroup they did and they came back out swinging, taking over the first period, outshooting the Pens 16-3. At times, the Pens probably would’ve been better off staying in the locker room. Between all of the turnovers, the crossed signals, running into one another, it was diarrhea hockey from the home squad.
If you were to personify the two teams in the first 20 minutes, the Jackets were like, Matthew McConaughey.
The Pens? Sloth from The fucking Goonies.
But after killing off a late Maatta hooking penalty and getting to the intermission scoreless, the game changed.
Instead of trying to continue to play the Jackets shitty bruising style of play, the Pens #GotToTheirGame of speed and skill and on just the second shift of the period, scored the first goal of the season. Daley was able to beat the Jackets with a stretch pass to Malkin, but the play Phil made with his skate to get the biscuit to Rust was next level shit, giving Rusty permission to snipe. 1-0
Just over 100 seconds later, the Pens would get their first PP of the series as Calvert tripped up Phil just inside the blueline. Adding Malkin back into the mix, the powerplay was buzzing. Bob stood tall, making some saves, but right off a faceoff after one of them, Malkin and Schultz wasted no time working it around to The Thrill to wait everyone out and wire a nasty shot home. Didn’t even bother to ask if he should snipe. Phil Kessel answers to no one. 2-0
Phil damn near made it 3-0 a few minutes later, cherry picking the shit out of the Jackets to get in on a breakaway off a Geno feed. Bob made an obscene save to give his team some hope.
The Pens continued to pile on the pressure, notching chance after chance. Grendel and Sheary had some nice effort turned aside on an odd-man rush, but the score would remain 2-0 until 3:35 remaining.
Maatta missed his making on the stretch pass, but Bonino jumped off the bench to negate the icing and drop it off to Hornqvist before driving to the net and banging home the loose puck. 3-0
On either side of the intermission, David Savard gave the Pens two powerplays in an effort to let the really put the game away. They didn’t and, as you can imagine, had to deal with another PK of their own midway through the period.
Unfortunately, shortly after the kill, Columbus would ruin Fleury’s shutout bid. Can’t complain too much about Fleury’s decision playing the puck. Tough break on Crosby overskating it, too. But Sheary putting the puck right into Anderson was the final nail for Calvert to get the Jackets on the board. 3-1
CBJ would burn their timeout with 2:24 left to get organized and get Bob out for the extra skater. But Fleury was having none of their shit.
- Unreal game from Crosby defensively. Saved maybe about 3 goals himself, yet still managed to be on the positive side of the shot attempts. Selke material, homie.
- Cannot even imagine what was going through Fleury’s head after having to basically prepare to back up Murray, only to get thrown in at the 11th hour. What a game he had, particularly the first period. This game ends wildly different without his first period showing.
- Little bit of rust for Maatta and Daley to shake off in the first, and it showed, but they came along in the last 40 minutes. Both were 51%+ possession guys.
- Kessel just shows up in the playoffs. Retroactively give him the Conn Smyth.
- Speaking of showing up in the playoffs, yet another year where Rust and Bonino come up with some big goals.
Game 2 Friday night. Let’s go.