RECAP 44: Pens hold on for 3-2 victory in NHL's first ever joint Pride Game

RECAP 44: Pens hold on for 3-2 victory in NHL's first ever joint Pride Game

Penguins

RECAP 44: Pens hold on for 3-2 victory in NHL's first ever joint Pride Game

By

BUFFALO, NY – APRIL 17: Jared McCann #19 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his first period goal against Dustin Tokarski #31 of the Buffalo Sabres during an NHL game on April 17, 2021 at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Today’s game was the NHL’s first ever joint Pride Game as the Penguins and Sabres teamed up to celebrate LGBTQ+ communities.

Awesome job by both teams for putting this together and giving a voice and support to their fans that are part of underrepresented communities.

LINEUP

Radim Zohorna in, Sam Lafferty out.

Tristan Jarry between the pipes. He has just one regulation loss in his last 13 starts.

Zohorna came into this one with 2 goals and 2 assists in his first 6 NHL games. The Penguins have controlled 57.3% of the shot attempts and 56.2% of the expected goals with him on the ice at 5v5.

1st period

PIT GOAL – McCann (12) A: Matheson [10:30] 1-0 PIT 

Halfway through the opening frame, Jared McCann broke the ice and scored his 12th of the season from below the goal line.

Big brain move here. I love when players look to bank the puck off the goalie from crazy angles. This is the kind of goal you’d expect from Sidney Crosby or Jake Guentzel.

Great to see McCann get on the board at 5v5, as that’s just his third point with both teams at full strength since he returned from injury on March 20.

Clinical first period from the Penguins. Even though it was against the Sabres, it was one of the most structured and poised periods they’ve played all season.

The Penguins led in shot attempts (26-8), and scoring chances (9-3) as they took a 1-0 lead to the dressing room.

The McCann-Carter-Zucker line scored a goal, took 6 shot attempts, had 3 scoring chances and didn’t concede a shot attempt against.

2nd period

PIT GOAL – Rodrigues (6) A: Blueger [5:57] 2-0 PIT

The Penguins expanded their lead on a beautiful goal from Evan Rodrigues.

After a strong forecheck on Dylan Cozens, Teddy Blueger took the puck and made a sweet dish to Rodrigues, who walked to the slot and sniped it home.

Blueger is an underrated playmaker, especially from below the goal line.

BUF GOAL – Thompson (6) Unassisted [6:41] 2-1 PIT

Less than a minute later, the Sabres got on the board and cut the lead in half.

Tage Thompson. Again. Seems like he scores all of his goals against the Penguins.

It was a broken play, as McCann had just blocked a shot and fallen toward the corner. Thompson corralled the puck and got to the slot before ripping the puck between two sets of legs on its way to the back of the net.

PIT PP GOAL – Rust (17) A: Crosby, Guentzel [12:15] 3-1 PIT

Bryan Rust restored the two goal lead on the power-play as he redirected a beautiful pass from the captain.

Crosby makes these passes look so easy. He presented himself as a threat to shoot the entire time, but he never intended to do so.

Tokarski was battling to keep the Sabres in the game, but he had no chance on this one.

3rd period

BUF PP GOAL – Mittelstadt (8) A: Ristolainen, Reinhart [11:44] 3-2 PIT

Buffalo made things interesting late in the game when they cut the Penguins’ lead to one on the back of Casey Mittelstadt’s power-play tally.

Not a great showing from the Penguins’ penalty kill. Jeff Carter needs to collapse lower in this situation.

The Sabres continued to make a strong push as regulation concluded, but weren’t able to convert on any of their chances.

Pens are back in the win column.

FINAL: 3-2 PIT

The Penguins opened with one of their best periods of the season, so it was to be expected the Sabres would push hard for the remainder of the game.

All situations, the Penguins led in shot attempts 66-53, but the Sabres ended up with a tiny advantage in scoring chances (23-22).

Evolving Hockey gives the Pens a 2.52-1.85 expected goals advantage.

Notes

  • My knee-jerk reaction to the Jeff Carter acquisition was that the move wouldn’t do much for the Penguins, but it has given them a ton of versatility with their lineup. His line with McCann and Zucker has been great in their first two games together. Today, they scored a goal, took 13 shot attempts, conceded just 4 shot attempts against, and controlled 79.5% of the expected goals.
  • Tristan Jarry was absolutely phenomenal in this one. He made a number of remarkable saves and seems to be out of whatever mini funk he was in not so long ago.
  • Hard to put a lot of stock into a game against the Sabres put the Penguins are getting me overly excited about their potential if they’re ever able to get healthy.

Both teams are back at it tomorrow afternoon in Buffalo. Puck drop at 3 PM EST. LGP.

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

All data via Natural Stat Trick and Evolving Hockey

More Sports

13hr

    1. Anthony Smith: I’m not sure if another title shot is in Lionheart’s future, but that makes three wins in a (…)

More Penguins