In honor of the new Mortal Kombat movie being released on HBO this week, today’s recap will be themed accordingly. I’m saving it for the hangover on Sunday, so if anybody tweets me spoilers in the next 24 hours, I will hunt you down and punch your head clean off your body a’ la Johnny Cage.
With just 9 games remaining and a playoff spot all but locked up, the Penguins are officially in “health is paramount ” mode. I promise you…it doesn’t matter who wins the division.
Today was the final frame of a 3-game set vs. the Devils, and also the final time we had to watch this matchup all season. Feels like an act of mercy for fans on both sides.
In fairness, the last two were fun. The Penguins disappointed me by holding on for a wild 7-6 victory on Tuesday. Woulda been hilarious if they lost. One can only imagine the stern talking-to they would have received from Donkey Kong on Subscription Sports.
They followed up that performance with Thursday’s 5-1 beatdown, a massacre the likes of which we haven’t seen since Goro destroyed that poor karate dude.
Let’s see if they could Finish Them on Saturday afternoon.
Jay Caufield continues to grow out his mullet as a sign of respect for Letang’s birthday. Letang…sounds like Liu Kang….? Makes you think.
The Penguins had their legs and eventually struck first when Jeff Frickin’ Carter decided to basically do it all himself. After a great rush through the neutral zone, he dumped it to Zucker on the entry who tried to do something and lost the puck. Luckily, it found Carter’s stick on the forehand.
PIT GOAL – Carter (10) A: Zucker [9:41] 1-0 PIT
— NHL (@NHL) April 24, 2021
Jeff Carter’s black and white mouth guard and big smile reminds me of Baraka. Highly underrated character.
Kapanen then stickhandled around the entire Devils team, so they just decided to trip him and give the Pens a power play. What a player – thanks GMJR. It took McCann like 2 seconds to cash in.
PIT GOAL (PP) – McCann (13) A: Guentzel, Letang [12:50] 2-0 PIT
JARED MCCANN, POWER-PLAY AFICIONADO. pic.twitter.com/NEFk3Qzv53
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 24, 2021
Pens piled it on for the balance of the period. At one point, it seemed like they were in the Devil’s zone for an entire 5 minutes. They took a penalty at the end, but killed it off. Pittsburgh would go to intermission up 2-0 thanks to Jeff Carter being sweet, and Blackwood coughing up rebounds that were juicier than Jade’s boobs.
Rust took his second holding penalty of the game about 5 minutes in. The Pens killed it, with Ted Blueger nearly scoring yet another gorgeous shorthanded goal. He is quickly transforming from “solid depth guy” to an irreplaceable piece in the lineup. Cap hit is $750K. Get real.
GMJR signing Cody Ceci fired a bullet in the direction of the net which ping-ponged off Guentzel and Rust and into the net. Magnificent.
PIT GOAL – Rust (20) A: Guentzel, Ceci [7:30] 3-0 PIT
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) April 24, 2021
The 3-goal lead lasted about as long as Johnny Cage did in the second movie (Annihilation). On the next shift, another goofy bounce in front found Jack Hughes’ pizza face for a goal that even blindfolded Kenshi could have tapped in.
NJD GOAL – Hughes (11) A: Sharangovich, Butcher [8:45] 3-1 PIT
Hughes with the finisher
🍏: Butcher pic.twitter.com/5pHTd0kwtK
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) April 24, 2021
The most exciting thing to happen over the final 10 minutes was Kapanen returning to the bench with some stiches after falling on his face in the 1st. Pens would look to put the game on ice in the third like Sub Zero.
In the first 6 minutes, Hughes and Bastian both had great chances on TheSmith and tried to go 5-hole, but he smashed the wickets closed like the hammer of Shau Khan.
Crosby found himself on a 2-1 with Guentzel, but passed right into the defensemen’s stick, leading to a chance the other way. Big shot on TheSmith’s glove hand, but he saw the puck and said….
With about 9 minutes left, fucking Miles Wood continued to be a major pain in the Penguins’ ass. He’s got 15 on the season, and 13 of them are against the Penguins (don’t fact check me).
NJD GOAL – Wood (15) A: Murray [10:58] 3-2 PIT
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) April 24, 2021
With about 5 minutes remaining, Zucker laid the smack down via clean hit on Zudenic, so someone named Nick Merkley decided to fight him. They hugged for a while and both went to the box.
I’ll be honest, the last few minutes were a nightmare. Pens appeared to be way too content to sit on the lead. With 6 seconds remaining and the goalie pulled, Nico Hischier should have tied up the game but shot it wide. WTF.
The Penguins’ Lord Raiden (Crosby) iced it with basically no time left.
All-time bad beat for Devils (+1.5) backers 🤮
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) April 24, 2021
Ballgame with the Pens in first place.
- I talked to Geoff and Danny the other night about whether I should publish this take and risk a mush. Fuck it. The Penguins appear to have something here. Their forward group is maybe the deepest in the league, IMO. Dare I say very 2016-ish. We know about the big boys, but back then, it was depth guys like Rust, Sheary, Kuhnackl, Hagelin, Cullen, and Simon chipping in. Now, it’s Blueger, ZAR, E-Rod, Tanev and Scevs. Perhaps more even more importantly, they have 6+ defenseman who can be relied upon. The difference that makes cannot be overstated. Thanks GMJR.
- Now, we know that shit goes out the window in the playoffs, just like analytics. It’s all about goaltending and capitalizing on timely opportunities (see: Pens 2017). So who the fuck knows. But just saying….IF they get healthy enough to bench Jankowski (lol), they will be without a glaring weakness. Look out.
- If this proves to be a mush, curse my family on Twitter @GooeyHockey
- Kap seems fine, but say your prayers that he didn’t get sent back too early like every other injured player who finishes the game then is out for a month.
- Bruins in town tomorrow afternoon, who lost to Buffalo yesterday 6-4. Just prepare yourself for a letdown game. It’ll be OK.
Good win. Go rip Saturday’s guts out. MORTAL KOMBATTTTTT!