From about 9:25pm EST Friday night until 5:00pm EST this evening, we all held our breath awaiting the sum of all fears: Kris Letang out indefinitely with a knee injury.
5:01pm, we could exhale.
“It could have been a lot worse. We’ll take each day as it comes and we believe we have capable people that we can put in the lineup. We have enough to win.” – HCMS
Dunno if I agree with you there, Sully, but you haven’t strayed us too far, so let’s ride.
Murr back in the cage, Riikola in with Letang out.
Four Cups between these two goalies.
If there was one thing that was evident from the get-go it’s that the Kings are very slow. Just over two minutes in, trying to beat a Kings defender, Derek Grant would go full lumberjack and head off for slashing. The Pens made quick work of this PK, barely letting LA cross the offensive blueline.
No better way to get your newly healthy goaltender into the game than to take not one, but two penalties, Maatta would can-opener Iaffalo and take a seat for tripping.
A repeat performance would ensue. A couple big saves by Murr at one end then a 3-on-2 with Rust, Cullen and Johnson, ended with a chance by Rust then Cullen walking into the slot uncontested. The old-timer made no mistake, beating Quick stick side.
Second shorthanded goal in as many nights for the Pens PK unit.
LA, to their credit, didn’t lie down after the Cullen shorthanded goal. They would come back with a couple of good chances, but Money was up to the task.
However, when you’re in last, when it rains – it pours. A too many men on the ice penalty with 9:58 to go in the opening frame opened the door for the Pens. Despite both units establishing heavy zone time, Quick would shut the door.
Ideally, if you don’t score on the power play, you want to build some momentum and that’s what the Pens did. Just over a minute later, The Bryan Rust Redemption Tour fulfilled it’s LA tour date. A great break out from Guentzel, the defense and a silky smooth pass from 87 gave Rust his fourth goal in three games.
When you’re feeling it, you’re feeling it.
The Kings would keep on pressing. Despite 15 saves, Murr would get beat by a solid shot by Toffoli on the 16th.
But wait, it was Andy Saucier’s time to shine. An offsides challenge would bring this sumbitch back. 2-0 Pens it remained.
With 1:20 to go in the period, former LA captain Dustin Brown would get called for a “high stick.” Not a good call, but you make your own breaks.
We’d end the first 2-0 Pens.
The PK was obviously solid and Murr with a quiet 15 saves three of which were of the high-danger variety.
Pens opened the second period with 40 seconds of a power play, it was pretty uneventful.
The Kings would get one back. Iafallo dropped the puck to Kopitar who found Muzzin sneaking in back door and Muzzin made no mistake with a yawning cage. Great passing play by the Kings, not much anyone could do on this one.
With 11:31 to go, Tanner Pearson would make Drew Doughty nothing but a tackling dummy. Battling for a loose puck, Pearson would shrug off Doughty, out wait Quick and put it top shelf where momma keeps the good liquor.
Maybe he can negotiate getting this erased from his highlight reel without an agent.
LA, as they had been doing all night, refused to go away. An ugly lost puck battle by Geno lead to Matt Luff (who is apparently a real person) would walk to the slot and beat Murr. A bad look for all involved.
Johnson, once again, took himself out of the play to chase a hit. Obviously Geno needs to play that puck off the wall better, but being *that* far out of the play as a defenseman is, in a word, bad!
Sidney Crosby is in damn beast mode. Tried to find a GIF of Sid’s almost goal where he walked half the Kings roster and damn near beat Quick to the short side in tight, but no luck. Good lord, when 87’s going, there’s no better.
After 40 minutes, the Pens held a 3-2 lead.
Much better job by the Pens limiting shots overall as the Kings only put nine on the net to the Pens 13, with only two being high-danger, one being a goal.
Fifteen seconds in, Matt Murray, through a screen, made a stellar glove save on Doughty. Just a little hot take humor for ya!
The Kings came on strong and again (!!) Murray would deny Doughty with a glove save.
With the Kings controlling a lot of the play in the third, they would draw a penalty with just under ten minutes to go. Garrett Wilson was rung up for hooking and it was gut check time.
What started as a great PK, came crashing down as the Kings second unit would tie this one at three on a seeing-eye shot from Iafallo.
Murr should have that, if we’re being honest, but cross-crease one-timers are high-percentage shots for a reason.
Somehow, against a slow team like LA, the game opened up in the final five minutes…and with that, the whistles were put away, because as we’ve learned, when you don’t want to affect the outcome of a game, you completely take yourself out of it!
No goals, to OT we went.
Pens started the OT with Sid, Guentzel and Dumo. Murr would get tested early on a breakaway from Toffoli and came up money. Another chance by Muzzin was denied by Murray.
LA controlled the first two and a half minutes until Sid, Rust and…Johnson(????) decided to take over, drawing a penalty with Leipsic slashing Sid. 4-on-3 advantage to end OT.
And then…Phil. Goddamned. Kessel ended it.
- Holy shit, I got to recap an OT win!
- 38 saves for Murr in his return.
- That said, Pens gotta stop giving up 30+ shots/game. Doesn’t matter who is in net, that ain’t a winning strategy.
- Full marks to LA. When you’re having the kind of season they are, it’s easy to lay down and call it quits when the Pens keep coming, but they stuck with it.
- Geno…need more from ya, man. A primary assist on the OT winner, but overall, the 5v5 production has to come back.
- Unreal three game stretch for Bryan Rust. Getting him back to form is nothing but a positive for the Pens.
- Pettersson led the Pens in CF% with 53.57, Austin Wagner and Nikita Scherbak led LA with identical 66.67.
Johnny Whitehall and the Ducks come to town Monday.