Not many goalies own Sidney Crosby, but Jaro Halak has some real estate in Crosby's head.
Games like this are a measuring stick, and the Pens didn't measure up. But that is also a bit misleading. The Pens had essentially three new faces in the lineup for this one (Neal, Bennett, D'Agostini), not to mention the absence of Martin and Scuderi, so maybe everyone was just a little off. But while the Pens were hardly run out of the building in this tight 2-1 battle, as you're reading this, the Pens' offense is still trying to enter the Blues' zone. Just suffocating defense. St. Louis shut down Sidney Crosby yet again.
The Pens also mustered only 20 shots on goal, which is the second-lowest total for a Bylsma-coached squad:
This week has been a bit concerning. Against two heavyweights, the Pens' offense all but disappeared. The Flyers are coming to town on Wednesday, so who knows what that's gonna bring.
Joe Vitale started the game because he’s from St. Louis. We had dreams of the Pens being scored on so we could complain about it, but instead Dan Reaves and Deryk Engelland dropped the mitts. No clue who won the fight; didn’t watch it.
Should be noted Paul Martin was a surprise scratch before the game, so Engelland moved to defense.
The Blues weren’t giving the Pens any room to cycle, and that was gonna be a game-long theme. The Pens' defense was returning the favor, though. The highlight of the first 10 minutes of the game was Letang’s hip check on Oshie.
Biggest moment of the first.
The monotony was snapped when Crosby raced for a loose puck and found himself on a breakaway against his old nemesis Jaro Halak. Big save. Crosby was caught up in the web David Backes laid last night. Really his last good chance.
Pens had to kill a Geno penalty into the second.
A couple minutes in, Alex Steen pressured Niskanen into a turnover. Eventually Lapierre found a streaking Reaves, who redirected one past MAF somehow. 1-0.
Beau Bennett almost wiped that goal away right after, but he hit the post.
Then the Pens went to work on a PP and cashed in. Malkin found Jokinen in front for an easy lay-up. 1-1.
Next thing you know, the Pens were going on a kill. Engelland got called for high sticking. Underrated kill right there.
Pens had a power play at the end of the second. Nada.
Whoever got the next goal was gonna be in the driver's seat. The Blues got that break when a Kevin Shattenkirk shot snuck its way past Fleury.
After that, the Penguins had a ton of trouble just simply trying to gain the Blues' zone, only registering 5 shots in the third.
More concerning than that was Kris Letang's play. No one is picking on Kris Letang, but in this kind of game where mistakes can be magnified, Letang's blunders stuck out like sore thumbs. At some point you'd think these mistakes wouldn't happen. In the third, he was just really bad. With the Pens trailing, he got uber-aggressive. He was trying to push, which is fine, but that isn't going to work against teams like the Blues. Show some patience for God's sake. Here is just a sample of Kris Letang's period:
This shift with about 5 minutes left was a disaster. He and Olli Maatta didn't appear to be on the same page coming through the zone. Letang wanted to just go. When the puck did get in, watch this terrible pinch:
Why the pinch there? There are 5 minutes left. No need to completely panic. Thankfully the Blues didn't score on the two-on-one, so the Pens were still in business.
This may be the play that defines Kris Letang sometimes. Just so reckless. It is a 2-1 game. What is he doing?
This was one of many for Letang.
Coming out of a timeout, the Pens had a set play. Letang just air-mailed this:
All of these plays are even more concerning when seeing that Letang played 29 minutes.