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Following their overtime defeat in Brooklyn Thursday night the Penguins were back in action Friday for a dance with the Devils in the Paint Can. The Devils are awful. The Penguins are injured. The Devils acquired PK Subban and Wayne Simmonds in the offseason, both have been invisible. The Penguins entered this 23rd game of the season with over a full season’s worth of man-games lost to injury. Fortunately, nobody was injured during the game in Brooklyn and with exception of the goaltender swap the Pens went with the same lineup:
Since calling Trotman up from the A this week Sullivan has opted to start him in both games while Riikola remains on his needs improvement list.
Despite their injuries, there have been several bright spots for the Penguins in this young season and one was on display in the first period of this game. Though the team did have a stretch of games where they took the first period off, for the most part, the team has been ready to play in the first period of back-to-backs. This one was no different, and the Devils were holding on for life immediately. If you recall, the last time these two played the Penguins put up around 98 shots on Mackenzie Blackwood who turned into Marty Brodeur.
About seven minutes into Penguin domination Dominik Simon makes a little dip pass 10 feet down the boards to the other Dom. Dom to Dom who turned it into a rom-com as he made Blackwood look like comiccon
DOMINIK KAHUN (6) Assisted by Simon (9) @ 7:51
Kahun with the hands to dance around Mueller
and just bury this bad boy. This was Kahun’s 104th career game, his 19th career goal, and you have to think that there is plenty more where this came from. This view really shows how great that move around Mueller was:
Keep in mind that this is a fraction of the speed that the actual play happened.
The rest of the period was a game against the 2000 era Devils but without the skill. The Penguins would not be allowed to decline a powerplay opportunity at the 11-minute mark. The Devils would get a chance of their own when Ruhwedel was called for interfering with Miles of Wood at 18:50, the Pens would kill off what was left on the clock and the period would end 1-0.
The Pens started the second period with 40 seconds of penalty left to kill, and they managed to kill 31 seconds of it before Taylor Hall caught Tristan Jarry stealing a page out of Murray’s playbook and performing the stanky leg.
The two types of goals I won’t ever complain about are powerplay goals and 3 on 3 OT goals.
With the game tied, we played 5v5 for two minutes before Miles Wood hooked John Marino. The Pens powerplay didn’t have time to look like its mediocre self before Damon Severson took a cheap shot to the legs of Jake Guentzel. Patric Hornqvist took exception and dropped the gloves with Severson, earning an additional 2-minutes for roughing and negating the powerplay. Crazy enough this was the first 5-minute fighting penalty of Hornqvist’s career.
Six minutes in Jared McCann tripped up someone and the Devils powerplay went back to work but the Pens PK was ready this time. After the kill we finally got to a prolonged stretch of 5v5 and the chances started coming for the Penguins. Eventually, Evgeni Malkin was carrying the puck through the neutral zone and made a sweet pass to spring Jake Guentzel into the zone all alone and Jake the Snake first did the Shake and then the Bake
JAKE GUENTZEL (11) Assisted by Malkin (10) & Rust (5) @ 12:27
Now, usually, Jake Guentzel can’t score unless Sidney Crosby is on the ice so this is a bit of an anomaly but man, what a player. This was Guentzel’s 89th career goal in his 227th game as he remains on pace to score his first 100 in fewer than 250 games.
The rest of the period was the Penguins taking a bunch of shots and the Devils wishing they were wearing Prada. Mackenzie Blackwood was able to hold the fort for the rest of the period and we would end the way we began, with the Pens up one.
One area the Pens have “struggled” with is getting an insurance goal in third periods. It’s not really a struggle, because goals aren’t that easy to come by in the NHL despite what you might read in Facebook comments. Tonight was a different story, however. Less than two minutes in the Penguins were hungry, and it was that damn man named McCann with some jam
JARED McCANN (8) Assisted by Galchenyuk (7) & Tanev (7) @ 2:05
McCann, who is only 23, is playing in his 5th season in the NHL. In his rookie year, he notched 9 goals for Vancouver which he did again two years later in Florida. Last season he scored 8 in 46 games for Florida before lighting himself on fire in Pittsburgh where he finished the season with 11 goals in 32 games. This goal gives him 8 in 21 games for the Pens this year.
Vancouver: 69 nice games played, 9 goals scored
Florida: 143 games played, 18 goals scored
Pittsburgh: 53 games played, 19 goals scored
What a pick up for Jimmy Ruth. Before I could even get excited looking up those stats on hockey-reference.com John Marino was getting to work making us all wonder what in the hell Edmonton was thinking to let this guy go for a 6th round pick
JOHN MARINO (2) Assisted by ZAR (3) & Lafferty (5) @ 2:30
I don’t have enough words to describe John Marino’s first 21 NHL games. We’ve seen this before in Olli Maatta as a rookie, hence my hesitation. We’ve also seen this before in Brian Dumoulin as a rookie, hence my pensboner. For now, I am just going to continue enjoying what this man is doing, because it is tremendous.
The goal would chase Blackwood to the backwoods and the Devils put Louis Domingue into his first NHL game ever. He saved all five shots that came his way. Jarry did the same, and the Penguins closed the door on a shitty team that should just stay in the cesspool that is New Jersey.
- Tristan Jarry was excellent again, I’m not sure why he isn’t playing more. It is definitely time to give Murray rest and start a rotation where Jarry plays every 43rd or 4th game in my opinion
- This team is playing some great systemic hockey and it’s all because Mike Sullivan finally got players he can use. The system didn’t change, Jim Rutherford just delivered with guys like Kahun and Tanev.
- Alex Galchenyuk has seen his TOI decrease to under 12 minutes through the course of the season. No doubt he is holding the stick a little tighter than he should be, but he also isn’t making you say “at least he’s trying.” Galchenyuk has 6 shots in his last 5 games, and other than his swing and miss on McCann’s goal I don’t remember him in this one.
- Despite the injuries, and most of the media saying it will be tough for the Pens to keep winning, the Penguins have clawed their way into third in the Metro.