RECAP 41: Conquering Hades; Pens survive late push, beat Devils 6-4

RECAP 41: Conquering Hades; Pens survive late push, beat Devils 6-4

Penguins

RECAP 41: Conquering Hades; Pens survive late push, beat Devils 6-4

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NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – APRIL 09: Casey DeSmith #1 of the Pittsburgh Penguins stops a shot in the second period against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on April 09, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The postseason is right around the corner as the Penguins are tasked for a weekend series with the Devils.

Having shipped Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to the Islanders, as well as waiving Nikita Gusev, the Devils are embracing their youth to finish out the season.

Both teams come into this one on the second leg of a back to back. Time to dig deep.

LINEUP

No changes other than the man between the pipes.

1st period

NJD GOAL – Wood (12) A: Bratt, Zacha [3:01] 1-0 NJD

Freaking Miles Wood. Seems like he scores against the Penguins every other game.

After battling Kris Letang and slipping past him, Wood stood on the doorstep as the puck found its way to his feet and he buried it immediately.

PIT PP GOAL – McCann (11) A: Crosby, Rust [10:00] 1-1

Jared McCann continued his incredible stretch of play with a power-play marker to tie the game.

Crosby fired it from the point and McCann was there to roof the juicy rebound. Good guys on the board.

PIT GOAL – Dumoulin (2) A: Ceci, Lafferty [19:13] 2-1 PIT

Hockey is random and often nonsensical.

Look no further than Brian Dumoulin scoring his second goal in a 41-game span!

It was an incredibly low-danger attempt from Dumoulin but it hit a Devils’ defender up high and changed direction, giving Mackenzie Blackwood little chance at making the save.

Pens head into intermission with a lead, but not before a little frustration from the captain:

Don’t worry. They made up as they were heading to the locker room.

2nd period

NJD GOAL – Hughes (9) A: Kuokkanen, Sharangovich [5:39] 2-2

The Devils brought a relentless attack into the Penguins’ zone and were eventually rewarded with a goal.

As the puck worked to the slot, four Penguins converged on the puck, breaking down their coverage entirely.

This opened up a passing lane to a wide-open Jack Hughes and he wired it home.

Tied up.

Both goaltenders made a couple of excellent saves throughout the game, but none of them topped this save of the year candidate from DeSmith:

PIT GOAL – Sceviour (3) A: Letang, Jankowski [17:38] 3-2 PIT

Mark Jankowski and Colton Sceviour are doing their best to make sure they don’t end up as trade casualties before Monday’s trade deadline.

Late in the period, Sceviour batted a floating puck out of the air and past Blackwood to give the Penguins another lead heading into intermission.

3rd period

PIT GOAL – Rust (15) A: McCann, Crosby [4:06] 4-2 PIT

CLAP. BOMB.

Rusty Razor on the power-play and the Pens are up by two.

PIT GOAL – Crosby (16) A: Guentzel, Marino [10:02] 5-2 PIT

Crosby put the Penguins up by three on a beautiful passing play halfway through the third.

Marino made a strong play at the blue line to hold the puck in the zone, and Guentzel made an awesome pass to find Crosby, who had slipped beneath the Devils’ coverage.

The goal doesn’t happen without Rust getting the puck out of danger and up ice right before the sequence.

NJD GOAL – Boqvist (2) Unassisted [11:43] 5-3 PIT

This was a really phenomenal rush from Jesper Boqvist to gain the offensive zone, and even though the Penguins were able to submit him to the corner for a sharp angle shot, he was able to bank the puck off Letang and past DeSmith.

NJD GOAL – Wood (13) Unassisted [18:27] 5-4 PIT

The Devils Brian Dumoulin made things interesting when he inexplicably threw the puck toward the goal as it ended up ricocheting off of DeSmith and into the back of the net.

After the goal DeSmith was shown tapping his mask with his glove as he looked toward the Penguins’ bench. I presume he was signaling for Dumo to use his head.

PIT EN GOAL – Rust (16) A: Guentzel, Letang [19:35] 6-4 PIT

Rust crushed the Devils’ hopes of tying the game after racing to a loose puck and burying it. Guentzel made a great area pass for Rust to get to it.

That’s two in a row for the Pens and a 7-2-1 record in their last 10.

FInal: 6-4 PIT

The Penguins dominated the first period, but the Devils didn’t back down and made things interesting the entire way.

Shot attempts were 55-47 in favor of New Jersey, but the Penguins had the ever so slight expected goals advantage (3.29-3.22), per Evolving Hockey.

Notes

  • John Marino has been playing some of his finest hockey of the season as of late. Not only was his keep in at the blue line a huge component of Crosby’s goal, but he paced the Penguins with a 66.7% shot attempt share and 78.9% expected goals share at 5v5.
  • DeSmith allowed another four goals tonight but it was a really solid performance, even excluding his incredible save in the first period. I hadn’t much considered it until tonight, but is he giving Tristan Jarry a run for the starting job? It’s starting to look that way.
  • The Guentzel-Crosby-Rust line scored tonight, but they really haven’t been great for a couple of weeks now. Despite leading all four lines with 13:30 time on ice at 5v5, they generated just 0.27 expected goals, which was tied with the Jankowski line that played four and half fewer minutes than them.
  • Sam Lafferty cannot buy a goal. I’ve been hard on him, and I don’t believe he’s deserving of a lineup spot as guys return from injury, but the guy had five scoring chances, two of which were high-danger chances, and he still couldn’t find the back of the net. It makes no sense. Even guys that have no business being in the league find twine every once in a while. 30 games without a goal this season.
  • Crosby didn’t play his best game by any stretch of the imagination, but his three point performance gives him 47 on the season, good for sixth-best league-wide. Not bad for a fella turning 34 later this year.

Rematch Sunday in New Jersey. Puck drop at 7. LGP.

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

All data via Natural Stat Trick and Evolving Hockey

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