<![CDATA[The Penguins game against the Lightning was a pretty standard one on the schedule. Mark Streit played against his former team. Ron Hainsey played a home game inside of PPG Paints for the first time. Conor Sheary finally returned from his mystery injury. Evgeni Malkin played his 700th NHL game. Kris Letang was still hurt. And the starter was in the crease, that's Matt Murray for those of you not paying attention in the back.
Before we talk about the game itself we should take a look at the Penguins line-up. Since this was the first time Streit played and Sheary was back so things looked a little different:
In the first period, the game reminded me a lot of the Penguins series against the Bolts last spring: speed, finesse, and injuries. Both teams are playing without key players. Still, the game was fun. The Bolts came prepared, putting up a 5-2 edge in shots at one point but the Penguins got it together and when Ian Cole took a penalty late in the period the Penguins got two shots on the penalty kill to Tampa’s one on the powerplay. At the end of the period, the score was a set of goose eggs and the shots were tied at nine.
The second period was similar until the Root Sports announcers started to talk about a random Lightning player. Adam Erne had played in a full seven NHL games without a point. Why this is what they decided was worth focusing on we may never know. But as we have pretty much come to expect with them, the kid scored almost immediately afterward when Chad Ruhwedel went into the corner and made us all scratch our heads with how he handled Paquette. Perhaps even more confusing though was Cole committing to go behind the net and join the same puck battle super ineffectively, leaving no one to help Murray out. Hot turnover straight out of the oven onto Erne’s stick and into the net. 0-1 Bolts.
About a minute later the Penguins got their first powerplay since before half the defense joined the team, though. Crosby wins a faceoff, Schultz makes the play at the point, Kessel with the beauty of a pass, and Malkin with a wonderful goal. At least we think so. No one saw it because the camera angle was a mess.
Before the second ended, the Penguins would go up on another Malkin goal on another unreal pass by noted Stanley Cup Champion Philip J. Kessel. End 2, 2-1 good guys.
The third started with the Bolts on a powerplay because Tom Khunhackl caught some guy named Dotchin with a high stick. The Penguins had been playing with fire since the Bolts have a pretty good powerplay and this time they got burned. Drouin to Kucherov, 2-2.
The tie didn’t last too long though because Sidney Crosby decided to be Sidney Crosby on a delayed penalty. He found a streaking Mark Streit who was probably heard saying “whoa so this is what winning feels like” after the game somewhere and the Penguins took the lead for good.
Most of the rest of the third was the Lightning pressing and the Penguins fending them off. Then at 15:40 the Pens got another PP and they made it count. Crosby to Schultz in the slot bada-bing bada-boom 4-2.
The goal was Schultz’s 10th. Then, Tom Khunhackl and Nick Bonino paired up for the eventual ENG and everyone was happy. Buffalo is in town Sunday for an afternoon game, let’s see if the Penguins decide to show up for this one.
– Streit fit right in and Hainsey’s been looking better and better every game. Imagine what it’ll be like when they don’t have to be top-4 guys.
– Schultz hit the 40 point plateau for the first time in his career tonight. Also scored his 10th goal. His season total is 41 points. Kevin Shattenkirk’s is 42 – jus’ sayin’.
– Both Dumoulin and Cole left the Penguins bench for stretches in tonight’s game. It’ll be worth keeping an eye out to see if either end up injured long-term.
– Pouliot didn’t play. Ruhwedel got the chance over him. But with that costly play for a goal against I’m curious to see if we get 51 back in the line-up sooner rather than later.
– Casual reminder, Matt Murray is the starter: