RECAP 24: Prophets and Party Hard; Pens stymie Rangers 5-1

RECAP 24: Prophets and Party Hard; Pens stymie Rangers 5-1

Penguins

RECAP 24: Prophets and Party Hard; Pens stymie Rangers 5-1

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PITTSBURGH, PA – MARCH 07: Evgeni Malkin #71 celebrate his goal with Kasperi Kapanen #42 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period against the New York Rangers at PPG PAINTS Arena on March 7, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

We’ve reached the point of the season where we can safely say the Penguins aren’t a powerhouse, but they aren’t push overs either.

Sometimes they put together periods where they are firing on all cylinders, and other times they look like it’s the first day of training camp.

Their unpredictability makes for good drama, but it probably does more harm than good on the psyche of fans.

After a three-game series against Philadelphia and on the second game of a back-to-back, it was hard not to wonder if the Penguins would come out a little flat in this one.

Indeed, they came out flat, putting just six shots on target in the game’s opening frame. Three of those shots, however, found the back of the net, and it was a big enough cushion for the Pens to shut the Rangers down for the remainder of the game.

The Penguins took just three more shot attempts than the Rangers (40-37), but controlled scoring chances 21-13 and high-danger chances 12-6, per Natural Stat Trick.

The guys in black and gold did a rather solid job in the defensive zone, as they conceded just six unblocked shot attempts below the faceoff dots. They had a 2.27-1.69 advantage in expected goals, per Evolving Hockey.

LINEUP

Anthony Angello is in. Sam Lafferty is out.

Casey DeSmith in goal.

1st period

NYR GOAL – Zibanejad (3) A: Buchnevich, Trouba [1:18] 1-0 NYR

The Rangers tallied just over a minute into the game on a beautiful goal from Mika Zibanejad.

An odd-man rush sparked by a failed attempt to hold the blue line by Mike Matheson (fight me Gooey), Zibanejad came down the right wing and threw a giant leg kick to get DeSmith in the butterfly position. He then changed the angle of his blade as if he were passing, only to then roof the puck over DeSmith.

PIT GOAL – Marino (1) A: Kapanen, Rodrigues [16:13] 1-1

Yes, I am taking full credit for John Marino’s recent resurgence. In two games since the article was written, Marino had an expected goals share of 100% in one game and a goal in the other.

This goal was a great example of what Marino needs to do more of in the offensive zone. The Penguins are much more dangerous when their defense is getting involved and activating up ice.

PIT GOAL – Kapanen (6) A: McCann, Malkin [16:52] 2-1 PIT

Kasperi Kapanen gave the Pens the lead less than a minute after the Marino goal.

He has been money on breakaways all season. Maybe he’ll show a little emotion when he scores eventually.

PIT GOAL – Crosby (8) A: Dumoulin, Letang [17:14] 3-1 PIT

We got a glimpse of some vintage Sidney Crosby in this one as the captain split two Rangers d-men and whacked a wobbling puck over the glove of Alexander Georgiev and into the back of the net for a 3-1 lead.

I, again, would like to take credit for this goal as I mentioned over the weekend that he had just one goal at 5v5 this season. Make it two now, and many more on the way.

If you have requests for me to will something into existence, get in line.

2nd period

Neither team scored in the second period despite it being the most high-event period of the game. A total of 15 scoring chances and 10 high-danger chances were turned away by the goaltenders.

3rd period

PIT GOAL – Malkin (6) A: Kapanen, Pettersson [13:57] 4-1 PIT

Kapanen and Evgeni Malkin look like they are starting to click with each other and there isn’t much reason to have Kapanen anywhere near Crosby’s wing again.

It was awesome to see Malkin tally a 5v5 goal, as he too, had just one 5v5 goal coming into this one. He’s put together his best string of games of the season and I think it’s safe to say that Geno is back.

PIT GOAL – Aston-Reese A: Blueger, Tanev [16:37] 5-1 PIT

On one of the whackier goals we’ve seen this season, Zach Aston-Reese batted a puck out of the air with his hand before backhanding the puck past Keith Kinkaid, who failed to seal his post.

I’m not really sure what ZAR was trying to do there, but it worked out and that’s all that matters.

Big dub for the good guys.

FINAL: 5-1 PIT

Notes

  • His name won’t be mentioned because he didn’t register a point, but Jake Guentzel played a really strong game as he led the Penguins in shot attempts, scoring chances, high-danger chances and expected goals.
  • Jared McCann left the game and is being evaluated for an upper-body injury, per Mike Sullivan. This isn’t ideal, as the Pens are thin on top-six wingers and McCann has been playing some of his best hockey as of late. The Penguins are scoring 5.4 goals per hour at 5v5 with him on the ice this season. That is an absurd rate, and while it won’t last, he should be given credit for his performance thus far.
  • Kapanen has 16 points (6 G, 10 A) in 21 games with the Penguins and I’m not sure I have a great read on him. His 46.5% expected goals share at 5v5 suggests the Pens are handily getting outplayed when he’s on the ice, but thanks to strong finishing and goaltending, the Penguins are controlling 67.1% of the actual goals with him on the ice at 5v5.

The Pens are back in action Tuesday night for a rematch against the Rangers.

Thanks for reading! Let’s talk hockey on Twitter. Follow me @shireyirving.

All data via Evolving Hockey, Natural Stat Trick

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