R1G2 RECAP: Out of the woods; Pens strike twice in first, hang on to even series

R1G2 RECAP: Out of the woods; Pens strike twice in first, hang on to even series

Penguins

R1G2 RECAP: Out of the woods; Pens strike twice in first, hang on to even series

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PITTSBURGH, PA – MAY 18: Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust (17) celebrates his goal with center Sidney Crosby (87) and defenseman Cody Ceci (4) during the first period in Game Two of the First Round in the 2021 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs between the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins on May 18, 2021, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that there will be totally logical and rational reactions to this game, regardless of the outcome.

Of course, I’m just a silly “pretend media guy.” What do I actually know?

It’s not like this team is constructed quite differently than any of the past three, or that they’ve had incredibly bad goaltending and shooting luck over that time.

Regardless, this isn’t a game the Penguins can afford to drop.

LINEUP

Rocking the exact same look as game one.

1st period

PIT GOAL – Rust (1) Unassisted [3:22] 1-0 PIT

Much like game one, the Penguins came out buzzing. They were firing everything on goal, and just over three minutes in, one of them found the back of the net.

Islanders’ d-man Ryan Pulock uncharacteristically fumbled the puck at his own blue line, allowing Bryan Rust to grab it and skate across the blue line to the right wing.

As he entered the zone, he threw a low-danger attempt on goal from above the circles. It appeared to have slightly nicked Adam Pelech’s stick, and ultimately fooled Semyon Varlamov as it went high glove.

This one is prooobably worse than any of the goals Tristan Jarry gave up on Sunday, but they all count the same on the scoreboard.

Huge for the Pens to get on the board first, and early.

PIT GOAL – Carter (1) A: McCann, Kapanen [13:07] 2-0 PIT

10 minutes later, Jeff Carter, The Goal Scoring Machine, put the Penguins up by two.

Kasperi Kapanen got bodied as he failed to retrieve a loose puck, but it allowed Jared McCann to one-touch a backhand pass out front to Carter, who walked to the slot and slipped a shot along the ice and off the post past Varlamov.

The finish from Carter was smooth as butter, but McCann deserves every bit as much credit for the goal. He knew exactly where Carter was before the puck got to him and made a great pass once it did.

The Pens took a 2-0 lead into intermission with a 28-15 lead in shot attempts and 11-8 lead in scoring chances, though the Islanders had 7 high-danger chances to the Penguins’ 3.

2nd period

NYI GOAL – Bailey (1) A: Nelson, Mayfield [14:44] 2-1 PIT

The Islanders got on the board and cut the lead in half with the only tally of the second period.

All five of the Penguins’ skaters were a bit disoriented on this play, but Carter made a very soft defensive play on the eventual goal scorer, Josh Bailey, allowing him to dangle to the slot on his backhand.

From his backhand, Bailey ripped a shot high-glove on Jarry who was too deep in his crease to take the upper corner of the net away.

Playing too deep in his crease continues to be one of Jarry’s biggest issues, and this time it compounded with his recently shaky glove hand.

The Islanders really clamped down in the middle frame, keeping the Penguins to just 13 shot attempts and 2 high-danger chances.

3rd period

Unlike most teams heading into the third period with a one-goal lead, the Penguins actually dictated play and had the lion’s share of shot attempts and scoring chances, though they failed to convert.

As regulation neared its conclusion, Bryan Rust wanted to keep everyone’s butt cheeks as clenched as possible when he gloved the puck in the defensive zone and inexplicably threw it down ice.

Play was immediately blown dead and he was assigned a penalty in the game’s waning moments.

The Penguins’ PK was up to the challenge and bailed Rust out of the sin bin as they picked up their first postseason win in what feels like an eternity.

Series tied at one apiece.

I don’t make the rules…

FINAL: 2-1 PIT

All situations, the Penguins led in shot attempts (68-51) and scoring chances (29-23).

Evolving Hockey gives them a slight 2.28-2.11 expected goals advantage.

Notes

  • First and foremost, Tristan Jarry deserves some props for his performance tonight. The goal he surrendered was less than stellar, but he was a brick wall otherwise and showed no signs of diminished confidence. I don’t expect him to be at a .973 save percentage every game, but if he’s even so much as average, it will go a long way toward the Penguins’ success.
  • The ZAR-Blueger-Tanev line has arguably been the Pens’ best line through the first two games of the series. Tonight at 5v5, they outshot the Islanders 13-6 and controlled 70% of the expected goals. When they were out defending the lead late in the game, boy genius Pierre McGuire made the comment “there’s no analytical equation for that,” as if it were the most astute thing anyone had ever said. If he’d take more than 12 seconds to actually try and understand analytics, he’d know that those three comprise the best defensive line in the league:

  • John Marino and Marcus Pettersson continued to be the Penguins’ best shutdown pairing, as they allowed just 0.26 expected goals against in 9:25 of 5v5 ice time together. Pettersson hasn’t developed into anything flashy, and Marino’s offensive game leaves quite a bit to be desired, but there’s no denying their ability to stymie the opposition.
  • Clinical third period performance from the Penguins, despite Rust’s mental error. That’s how you close out a game in the postseason.
  • It goes without saying, but it’s a damn good thing the Penguins evened the series. Heading to Long Island down two games might as well be a death sentence. Instead we’re looking at a best of 5.

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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