Wow, would you look at that. The Penguins might actually not be a bad hockey team!
They showed up for damn near 60 minutes, made minimal mistakes, were able to escape their own zone, and turned in a great performance, blowing the doors off a pretty decent Dallas Stars team to the tune of 5-1.
This was, perhaps, the most complete game the Penguins have put together all year. It’s refreshing, too.
In the first 40 minutes, the game was one. They held Dallas to just 10 shots over the first 2 periods, but what’s more is that the Pens, at 5v5, dominated the Stars in shot attempts (38-16), scoring chances (17-7), and high danger scoring chances (12-3). Dallas shifted the shares back a little in their favor when it was already 5-0, but adjusting for score and venue effects, the Penguins owned a 64.5% share of shot attempts, 58.39% share of scoring chances, and 67.9% share of high danger chances.
That level of domination would make Irene Adler moist.
What’s more, with this win, the Pens officially make it so that this November doesn’t end up being the worst November in franchise history.
It’s a start!
The Return of the Great White Sid, back with Guentzel and Hornqvist on the top line, bumping Brassers back to his 3C hole and bumping Spraniel Dong from the lineup, gave HCMS his top 3 centers in the lineup and healthy for the first time in nearly a month. Grant got 4C duties as Sheahan shifted to 4LW, while the Letang-Johnson experiment finally came to an end. JJ73 stayed in the lineup, but was moved further down and sheltered, paired with OhSexyBack, reuniting the Fiinniish Fuunnboys (it’s a working title). DeSmith, despite surrendering 5 goals against Buffalo, got the start over my big, mad adult son.
PIT – 1st Pd./3:58 – Guentzel; A: Crosby, Oleksiak – 1-0
On Monday night against Buffalo, the Pens came out swinging for the fences. Last night, they did that exact same thing and got similar results, namely because Sidney Crosby is a war criminal when he’s on the ice. In the first period, dude put the team on his back doe.
First, it was him dancing through the neutral zone as Letang picked the puck off in the neutral zone to get a reset with Dumo. Crosby got himself into the zone, got support from his troops and got a timely pinch down the wall from Oleksiak after Khudobin kicked Letang’s shot to the corner. Cue 87 picking it up, swinging out and drawing the attention of every Dallas Star on the ice, allowing Sid to hit a wide open Bake on the faceoff dot for a one-timer through Qdoba’s wickets.
PIT – 1st Pd./6:06 – PPG – Malkin; A: Letang, Phil! – 2-0
About 90 seconds after the goal, Radulov found himself in the box for hooking Letang as 58 went back to retrieve the puck behind his own net. Can’t take penalties there and certainly can’t take penalties against this Penguins team. Even as bad as they’ve been lately, the PP is gonna burn you and burn them is exactly what they did.
Despite a Gene Bomb getting blocked off, they kept their foot on the accelerator to collect the grenade and move it back to The Tang at the point to get reorganized. He played catch with 81 and 71 on the left wing wall, pulling the Stars PK apart enough for Gene to cradle and glide, waiting for the shooting lane to open up.
Not sure what “Should I snipe?” is in Russian, but you’re goddamn right you should, G.
PIT – 1st Pd./10:04 – Crosby; A: Guentzel, Hornqvist – 3-0
Four minutes later, with Crosby back on the ice, it was 3-0.
“Dawg, gotta do this shit. Put da team on my back doe. My leg broke, I dont know how the fuck I’m skating right now doe. I do this shit…for Pittsburgh. Oh shit, DARREN SHARPER! One of the most hardest hittin d-men in the league. BUT, I put the team on my back doe. Fuck it, cross the plane. Goal time. Sid Crosby.” – Sidney Crosby
Cleaned up zone and exit with Hornqvist and Guentzel. Then it’s all 87. Hold his dick, Esa Lindell
PIT – 2nd Pd./3:20 – Hornqvist; A: Maatta, Crosby – 4-0
Stars started to come alive after the Crosby goal, but couldn’t find the back of the net on either side of the first intermission.
They didn’t have too many quality looks, but when they did, DeSmith was up to the task. Early in the second frame, on just their 4th shot of the game, Seguin got a little lucky in the puck bouncing over Dumoulin to storm in on a breakaway. He didn’t have much room with which to work, but he did have enough to try to beat DeSmith with a little shimmy and shake before going to the backhand.
The Pens went down the other way, got an offensive zone faceoff and went to work with Rust-Crosby-Hornqvist doing the damn thing. Vintage grimy work down low from Crosby that turned into highlight reel hand-eye/agility shit to put Hintz jock into orbit and find Maatta on the far side sneaking in from the point. Khudobin made the save, but Hornqvist was there to bang home the rebound.
Hold. His. Dick.
PIT – 2nd Pd./8:52 – Pearson; A: Grant – 5-0
About a minute or so after Horny’s goal, Riikola got himself damn near murdered by a really late, bad hit from Brett Ritchie. Riikola would leave the game for a bit, but came back late in the period and played regular shifts in the 3rd. Scary shit, watching his head pinball off the glass the way that it did.
A few minutes later, Khudobin’s night would come to an abrupt end. Once again, DeSmith was called to action on one of the few shots he actually faced on the night (through 2 periods, he saw just 10 shots), robbing Radek Faksa on the doorstep with a big toe save.
Dallas kept the pressure on the Pens in their zone, but when they tried to work it from low to high, a misplaced pass allowed the Pens to get out of their own end of the ice. Derek Grant saw an opportunity to put their D under, stepping up and chasing the puck down in the neutral zone. His pokecheck took an admittedly fortuitous bounce, ending up right on the stick of a streaking Tanner Pearson.
He made no mistake.
Credit where it’s due on the save, but elevating the puck enough to get it over the pad from that tight is only done with regularity by Sidney Crosby. Mattias Janmark is not Sidney Crosby.
But man, can Pearson shoot the puck. Two goals in as many games for the newest ‘Guin.
DAL – 3rd Pd./7:55 – Hintz; A: N/A – 5-1
With the Pens coasting and really not giving DeSmith much to do, Dallas would find a way to break his shutout bid on just their 14th shot of the game. Oddly enough, it started with a offensive zone faceoff that Crosby won a little too cleanly.
Letang and Dumoulin went back to retrieve it, but Letang being on his off-side made that a little bit of a difficult task with Janmark bearing down on him. As 58 tried to quickly and blindly throw it back north, he found only Janmark’s leg. Letang was still able to sweep it away, but only as far as Radulov jumping in late.
Radulov took it to the wall, looked like he put himself in too difficult of a position to do anything, but spun and threw a backhand feed towards the slot where Roope Hintz (a real name!!!) was lurking, beating DeSmith with a backhander.
Anyway, that’d be the end of it. The Pens would see it out without any other mishaps, despite taking a late penalty. DJ…spin ittttt
- Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way quickly here regarding the hot-hand fallacy, the focusing effect, recency and outcome bias with respect to Casey DeSmith/Matt Murray so we can talk about how good Sidney Crosby is. DeSmith played well last night, make no mistake. The two saves that immediately turned into Pens goals were important saves. But his workload wasn’t very heavy. He ended up facing just 18 shots in total against a team that averages just over 29 per game and faced 5 high danger shots (giving up one goal), 5 mid-danger, 8 low danger, 2 on the rush and 1 rebound shot. The Stars two best players combined for a total of 3 shots on goal and the Stars had an expected goals for at 5v5 of a putrid 1.81. All this is to say that the Penguins were so good defensively that they set their goalie up for success, something they’ve not done this year with enough regularity.
- So how good is Sidney Crosby? You could really tell that he had something to prove after having to watch this team lifelessly make it through hockey games while he was sidelined with his injury. This was your prototypical #Leadership game from 87. Set the tone early and dominated the game at every stage with his 1G-2A effort and on the ice for 80% of the Pens goals. At 5v5, he was on the ice for a 75% share of shot attempts (15 for, just 5 against), as well as 10 scoring chances for and 4 against and 7 high danger chances for an just 3 against. He had a joint team high 3 shots on goal (all at 5v5, tied with Hornqvist, Letang, and ZAR) on 5 attempts, while also generating 4 scoring chances (all high danger) individually.
- Speaking of Hornqvist, he followed his captain’s lead. Big boy performance from that big swinging dick. Mic him up every fucking game.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving, gang. Pens are back at it in Boston on Black Friday in the first of a back-to-back. Go Pens.