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The Penguins wrapped up their final road trip in the opening month of the season last night with a game at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. The Penguins had recently played the Stars just over a week ago on Friday the 18th, a 4-2 win for Pittsburgh. The Stars went on to win their next three games while the Penguins dropped each of their next three following that matchup. Despite playing with half a lineup and games being slightly out of reach fans were starting to get antsy at the thought of a four-game losing skid in October. The first beacon of light broke through the haze on Friday when Jim Rutherford whipped out that bottle of whiteout we are all too familiar with by now, and sent Erik Gudbranson to Anaheim for capspace. This would’ve made any weekend better but then the news came that Nick Bjugstad and Bryan Rust were game-time
decisions. When it came time to list the opening lineup the Penguins actually started to look like a hockey team.
Bjugstad back in the lineup after missing 8 games while Rust gets his first game of the season. The return from injuries coupled with the Gudbranson trade meant Sullivan finally got to use Jusso Riikola as a defender for the first time this year. Thanks to the solid play by John Marino Sullivan decided it would be best to play Riikola beside Marino instead of Johnson.
The first was a weird flex for those that use the eye test, the Penguins seemed to be pushing play a lot but it was the Stars who dominated the period statistically. Marcus Pettersson interfered with Andrew Cogliano’s attempt at remaining relevant late in the period, marking the only event of the period that would appear on the scoresheet.
Also, this happened and it hurts to watch
Sids face following the incident was all of us
Often times one of the biggest complaints from the Anti-Murray crowd is they “wish Murray would steal the Pens a game once in a while,” you may now reference this first period when arguing with such folk.
The second period was a lot like the first, with the only difference being Kris Letang taking a tripping penalty halfway into the frame. Nick Bjugstad was making his presence felt but Bishop was playing well
Not to be outdone Matt Murray kept putting together a scrapbook of memories
At one point the Stars had a glorious look at goal but it was Dominik Simon flying in to save the day…
The real question is did Simon make a good defensive play or does Justin Dowling not deserve to be on Sids line for missing the open net?
With less than a minute to play in the period that already saw a Star take a Crosby snapshot to face Crosby himself too one high and left the game.
A zoomed-in look shows the puck likely hit near around the ear hole in the helmet, conveniently where the jaw joint is and protection is not.
The Johnson-Letang pairing continuously got torched but that is normal. By the end of the game Letang finished with a sub 50% Corsi at 5v5 while Johnson hobbled around his career average of 39%.
Sid would sit out the first few shifts as Pittsburgh went on Amazon to buy more sage. Crosby would eventually return to the game and all would be well. The Penguins continued attacking the Stars from behind the net and with 7 minutes gone in the third they finally broke through
DOMINIK KAHUN Assisted by Lafferty (3) @ 7:29
It’s tough not to be high on Sam Lafferty right now. Kahun attempts a centering pass to Lafferty but it never gets through, Bishop gets in the Halloween spirit and acts like a mummy, and Kahun buries the trash. For Kahun it marks his first goal as a Penguin. For Bishop, it marks the start of a rough 120 seconds as he quickly found himself attempting to handle the puck against the tenacious Bryan Rust. Rust wins a battle behind the boards, does a wrap around, loses control at the end, which in Bryan Rust world is how it works.
BRYAN RUST Assisted by Marino and Hornqvist (4) @ 9:07
Bryan Rust is the king of the sloppy goal. Congratulations to John Marino for notching his first career NHL point on the play.
This tweet serves as a reminder that Craig Adams played for the Penguins as recently as 2015, feels like decades ago.
For the most part, the Penguins have been very disciplined in the early part of the season, especially in the third period. I’m sure this was a focus of Sullivan’s during the offseason, and I’m sure having Malkin off the ice may be helping a bit. Regardless, with the two-goal lead Dallas started pressuring a bit but the Pens refused to take a dumb penalty and Murray refused to cave. The Stars would pull Bishop with over three minutes left and we popped open another Black and Tanev.
BRANDON TANEV (3) Assisted by Guentzel (6) & Blueger (3) @ 18:46
Teddy Blueger with three assists on the year already, tough to say if he will beat Matt Cullen’s 13 as the 4C last year. The Penguins shut it down for the remaining minute fourteen effectively ending their three-game skid.
- Matt Murray with the shutout, through 9 games played this year he now has his save percentage up to .918, which is right around his career average of .917
- Kris Letang cannot wait for Brian Dumoulin to return
- In his first game as a defender, Riikola was on the ice for 14 scoring chances for and only 4 against. He finished the game with a 5v5 CF% of 70.73 while defensive partner John Marino finished with a 68.57
- A makeshift line of Kahun-McCann-Lafferty were on the ice together for 7:13 of 5v5 play, and in that time they had 6 shots for and 2 against, a CF% of 71.43
- The line of Rust-Bjugstad-Hornqvist couldn’t get going, as they were the only 5v5 line that had more chances against than for finishing the game with a Corsi For of 13 and Corsi Against of 20