RECAP 32: Lone Crosby goal not enough, Pens drop another in OT loss to Devils

RECAP 32: Lone Crosby goal not enough, Pens drop another in OT loss to Devils

Penguins

RECAP 32: Lone Crosby goal not enough, Pens drop another in OT loss to Devils

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PITTSBURGH, PA – MARCH 21: Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his first period goal against the New Jersey Devils at PPG PAINTS Arena on March 21, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

As goes every game this season, a big two points were on the line for the Penguins as they looked to take the rubber match of their three-game series with the Devils.

They didn’t leave the game empty-handed, but a mediocre performance from a mediocre lineup left them with a disappointing result. They should consider themselves lucky they made it out with a point.

LINEUP

Brandon Tanev was scratched again as he deals with an undisclosed injury. Here’s to hoping it isn’t anything serious as he’d been one of the Penguins’ best skaters in recent games before the injury.

No changes for the skaters.

Tristan Jarry back between the pipes.

1st period

PIT GOAL – Crosby (12) A: Guentzel, Rust [3:37] 1-0 PIT

The Penguins spent the majority of the game’s opening minutes fending off a hell storm from the Devils as they fired the puck every chance they got, but thanks to a masterful zone entry, some beautiful passing and an elite finish, they scored the game’s opening goal.

Dumoulin’s center lane drive opened up the forwards on the outside and they took care of the rest.

Crosby was cheesing before the puck even went in the net.

We are not worthy.

The Pens took the lead into intermission but shot attempts (21-15) and scoring chances (14-8) sat in favor of the Devils.

Overall sloppy period.

2nd period

NJD GOAL – Vatanen (2) A: Kuokkanen, Zajac [4:48] 1-1

Sami Vatanen evened the score on a blast from the point. He had a ton of time to wind up and let ‘er rip as the Pens’ forwards left him unmarked.

The Crosby line had a rough go in the d-zone in this game. Lots of puck chasing and blown coverage. Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin weren’t exactly flawless, either.

The rest of the period was a bit of a snoozer, but the Devils once again controlled play and had the Pens on their heels.

Add another 15 scoring chances for the Devils and 8 for the Pens.

It’s not hard to see why the Penguins will be in serious trouble if they don’t get some players back from injury in the coming weeks.

3rd period

Mark Jankowski missed the net by a mile on a two-on-one halfway through the period as both teams looked to break the deadlock. I am absolutely sick of him.

The Penguins didn’t give the Devils anything in the third. They made a push in the final minutes of regulation, but didn’t create anything substantial and the game was sent to OT.

Third period shot attempts were 19-9 for the Pens. Scoring chances were 9-0 in their favor as well.

Overtime

NJD GOAL – Bratt (2) A: Zacha, Smith [2:50] 2-1 NJD

A little over halfway through OT the Devils claimed victory on a beautiful wraparound from Jesper Bratt.

FINAL (OT): 2-1 NJD

All situations, shot attempts were 56-53 for the Devils, but shots on goal were 36-35 in favor of the Penguins.

The Devils had the edge in scoring chances (31-27) and expected goals (2.61-2.15) as well.

Notes

  • The Guentzel-Crosby-Rust trio continued to be the Penguins’ main source of offense, but they gave a lot of it back defensively. They conceded 23 shot attempts against and controlled just over 30% of the expected goals. They’ve been stingy in their own zone this season so it was a rare occurrence to see them outplayed for an entire game.
  • It’s no coincidence the fourth line started showing signs of life once Jankowski and Sam Lafferty were moved up the lineup due to injuries. Obviously the fourth line didn’t light the world on fire, but it was nice to see something. They created a number of scoring chances, including a Fredrick Gaudreau shot that kissed the elbow of the post. It’s abundantly clear he has more to offer than both Jankowski and Lafferty. I suspect he’ll fall out of favor as the team gets healthier, but the coaching staff would be wise to give him a longer look.
  • Jarry turned in yet another stout performance. Him and Casey DeSmith have been huge factors in keeping the Penguins afloat.
  • Jason Zucker skated on his own again and it looks like he might be back sooner than I initially thought. It doesn’t mean he’ll be back in the next week or two, but the Penguins’ broadcast showed a video of him on the ice and he was moving around a lot better than I would’ve expected at this stage of his recovery.
  • Thank god we don’t have to see the Devils again for a couple of weeks.

The Pens are off until Wednesday (8 PM start, you’ve been warned) when they host the Sabres for a back-to-back at the Paint Bucket. LGP.

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

All data via Natural Stat Trick, Evolving Hockey

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