RECAP 47: This time you're staying down; Pens spank Devils 5-1

RECAP 47: This time you're staying down; Pens spank Devils 5-1

Penguins

RECAP 47: This time you're staying down; Pens spank Devils 5-1

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PITTSBURGH, PA – APRIL 22: Pittsburgh Penguins center Teddy Blueger (53) celebrates after scoring a shorthanded goal during the second period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New Jersey Devils on April 22, 2021, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

According to Hockey Viz’s points projections, the top four teams in the East division will all finish within 0.9 points of each other.

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It’s gonna be tight butt cheeks until the very last day of the regular season.

Every point is huge (depending on how much you think seeding matters), and the Penguins are looking to take another two from an inferior Devils team after a monumental collapse in the third period of Tuesday’s game.

LINEUP

Prior to puck drop, Kasperi Kapanen was activated from injured reserve. He was subsequently placed on the fourth line in place of Sam Lafferty.

Mike Sullivan alluded to easing Kapanen back into game action with limited minutes. While that might be true, I’m thinking it’s also because he wants to keep the rest of his lines in tact even as Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Tanev return from injury.

With games in consecutive days over the weekend, Sullivan gave netminder Tristan Jarry the nod in goal despite his six-goal meltdown Tuesday night.

Congrats to Jason Zucker, who dressed for his 500th career NHL game.

1st period

PIT GOAL – Crosby (19) A: Rust, Letang [0:41] 1-0 PIT

The puck dropped and Sidney Crosby was flying around like a bat outta hell (lol).

He gave the Penguins the lead less than a minute in as he lasered a snap shot above Aaron Dell to the top of the net.

Crosby went on to finish the period with 5 shot attempts, 3 shots on goal, 5 scoring chances and 4 high-danger chances.

Talk about leading by example after the way your team ended the last game.

NJD GOAL – Tennyson (1) A: Murray, Boqvist [12:34] 1-1

The Devils knotted the score on a Matt Tennyson slapper from the boards near the point.

The Penguins were late to cover him, but such a shot typically doesn’t pose much of a threat. However, Jarry was screened and failed to get a good look at the puck as it sailed past him.

PIT GOAL – Ceci (4) A: Dumoulin, Kapanen [17:46] 2-1 PIT

CODY CECI SIMPLY CANNOT STOP PUTTING POINTS ON THE BOARD.

After catching a pass that handcuffed him at the point, he let a slapper of his own rip and it found its way to the back of the net to restore the Penguins’ lead.

Since March 27th, Ceci leads all NHL defensemen with 10 points at 5v5 (though six of them are secondary assists).

2nd period

PIT GOAL – Rust (19) A: Guentzel, Crosby [12:03] 3-1 PIT

Bryan Rust put the Penguins up by two when he buried a feed from Jake Guentzel off the rush.

Awesome pass from Guentzel, but show some love to Rust for that finish. That takes a special kind of finesse.

PIT GOAL – Kapanen (8) A: Blueger, Aston-Reese [12:28] 4-1 PIT

The Penguins started to pile it on as Kapanen got on the board with a goal for his second point in his first game back from injury.

He was absolutely flying all night, especially on this goal.

Great job to just swiftly slip the puck five hole as he would have been in an awkward shooting position had he held on any longer.

PIT SH GOAL – Blueger (7) A: Letang, Marino [15:59] 5-1 PIT

Teddy Blueger really is a hell of a player.

He got in on the fun with a goal of his own on the penalty kill as he rushed the puck down the ice on a 2-on-1 before ripping a wicked shot to the back of the net.

Coming into tonight’s game, he ranked third on the Penguins with 1.2 wins above replacement (WAR) this season.

3rd period

The Penguins made sure not to get too close to the dreaded six-goal lead and didn’t score for the remainder of the game.

They put up almost no offense to speak of in the final frame, but the Devils generated just one high danger chance and failed to convert on it.

No disastrous third period this time.

FINAL: 5-1 PIT

The Penguins trailed in shot attempts (53-47) and scoring chances (27-23) but it doesn’t matter when you can’t stop putting pucks in the net.

Evolving Hockey gives the Devils a 2.82-1.62 expected goals advantage.

Not many quality looks in and around the front of the net for the Penguins, but they continue to be carried by their high-end finishing talent.

Notes

  • It was a great return for Kasperi Kapanen. He was apparent nearly every time he was on the ice, scored a goal, and made a couple of plays that led to chances.
  • This Penguins team is DEEP. When Evgeni Malkin and Brandon Tanev return I have a tough time seeing any team other than Vegas or Colorado matching up with the Penguins. Will the Pens be able to stay healthy?
  • Awesome rebound game from Tristan Jarry as well. The Devils hit a couple posts, and there were a few times I thought he was a bit off his angle, but the end result speaks for itself.

The Pens will look for the three-game sweep of the Devils Saturday afternoon. Puck drop at 12:30 EST. LGP.

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

All data via Evolving Hockey, Natural Stat Trick

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