Earlier this season, we spent a couple weeks harping on the blueprint on how to beat the Penguins. In this game, the Penguins gave us the blueprint on how they’ll be able to hang with the best teams in the NHL later this season if they get the opportunity.
It involves staying alive long enough for the PP to come up huge. It was their downfall against San Jose. Yes, they had two PP goals, but the shorty surrendered to Marleau planted the seed for the Sharks’ comeback. Meanwhile in this game, the big boys got a chance halfway through the third period to tie the fucker up, and Malkin stepped up.
Another factor to this win? The ability to roll four lines for most of the game, especially on the back end of probably the toughest back-to-back in hockey. San Jose and Anaheim aren’t easy places to play, and you can almost forget about it when the teams are playing elite hockey.
People were freaking out after the Sharks loss, but let’s reassess this California trip. The Pens, and their backup goaltender, were a fluke goal away from taking the Sharks to overtime. Then the Pens turned around and took the Ducks to overtime and won in a shootout. They were outshot 78-39 in the process, but it’s promising nonetheless.
In building towards the playoffs you need moments to draw on. We believe Bylsma finally admitting that his third line is utter trash is a huge moment.
We aren't saying it is a solution, but pairing your best six forwards together is a whole lot better than having Brandon Sutter skate with Vitale and Tanner Glass.
Benchmark moment that led to the win.
Chris Kunitz took a dumb penalty early on, and pretty much the rest of the game was played in the Pens’ zone.
They were able to kill off the Kunitz penalty, but Ducks were wide awake. It was all Ducks all the time. Then Corey Perry snuck in and put home a loose puck. Begining of a long night for Maatta and Orpik, 1-0.
You wanted the Pens to answer the goal, but there was a DO NOT ENTER sign on the Ducks’ blue line. But then out of nowhere, Engelland turned and threw one at Hiller, who didn’t even know what happened. 1-1.
Bruce Brodreau's reaction as Engelland skated past the ducks bench was great.
( thanks to Kim T. for the spot)
Stempniak-Crosby-Kunitz had a really good shift somewhere in there. It hurts to get excited over one shift, but that’s the first time in a while that the top line has been able to be active in the offensive zone.
Malkin drew a penalty, and the PP was licking its chops. Instead we saw a rough Crosby turnover and a nice backcheck by Neal to thwart a shorthanded chance.
Stempniak fell a couple more times, and then there was some 4-on-4 action when Bryan Allen tripped Joe Vitale, who got called for a dive.
Ducks pushed harder late in the first, and it led to a Neal penalty, but the Ducks couldn’t do anything. Jesus, how dominant are Perry and Getlaf down low? It’s not even fair.
Other shit that happened:
– Say what you want about Despres, but at least he clears people out from the front of the net. He has played well the last two games.
– Kyle Palmieri getting hit by Corey Perry's shot, then almost getting hit again was funny:
– Forgot Saku Koivu was still in the NHL.
Stempniak took a dumb penalty, so the Pens had to kill that off. As a result, it looked like they couldn’t get their legs under them for a large chunk of the period.
Stempniak made another appearance later when he blew a golden chance on a feed from Kunitz.
Rough couple games for Stempniak.
Meanwhile, the Ducks had their best chance when Olli Maatta turned a puck over, and the Ducks went the other way on a 3-on-1. Fleury answered with his best save of the night on Patrick Maroon. Butt-clenching moment.
At the 7:30 mark of the second, the Pens were being outshot 21-4. But the Pens were still very much in the game, and it honestly didn’t feel like that big of a shot differential.
Out of nowhere, James Neal woke up, danced a one-on-one, and rang one of the pipe.
Pens had something going with about five minutes to go. Crosby got the puck in the offensive zone which hadn't happened alot in this game. He set up shot. Then Brooks Orpik did this:
The Ducks were owning the play, but Francois Beauchemin slipped up and hooked James Neal and then yelled at the refs for a while. It was a huge PP opportunity, but the Pens couldn’t connect. Malkin had a good look but just couldn’t roof it.
1-1 going into the third period? Sold.
– Matt Niskanen was the best Penguins D-man through the first two periods. He had a few chances jumping into the play late. He’s playing a complete game right now.
The way the shots were going, it was only a matter of time. Two minutes into the third, Corey Perry embarrassed Brooks Orpik, stripping him of the puck. The puck then went to Getzlaf driving the net then back to Perry. 2-1.
Yeah, Perry got Orpik's hands on the play, but that doesn’t excuse Orpik from following Perry to the net. While we’re at it, the Maatta-Orpik pairing is trash. Burn it.
The Ducks weren’t giving the Pens much, but then the Kyle Palmieri tripped Simon Despres. And that was a big mistake. The PP smelled blood. Neal and Malkin teamed up, and Malkin didn’t miss. 2-2.
So many great things about that goal. The Pens quick transition back into the zone after Malkin misplayed a Crosby pass at the point. Crosby and Neal working the boards. Malkin finding a sweet spot in the high slot. And that screen from Kunitz. Man.
Pens almost took the lead like 10 seconds later when Sutter and Jokinen teamed up, and it was Hiller’s turn to make a huge save.
At some point before the Pens’ PP goal, Bylsma moved Pyatt to Malkin and Neal's line, and put Jokinen with Sutter. It was a simple move, but the Penguins’ lines stabilized after that.
It is so common to just say " The Penguins stars need to show up." Malkin and Crosby aren't the problem. They can't carry the team every game. Having a third line is a drum we will beat into the ground.
Every time Corey Perry was on the ice, he almost scored. Fleury had to make several big saves.
Last five minutes
Pyatt-Malkin-Neal vs. Perry-Getzlaf-Palmieri was really fun. Both lines generated all kinds of shit. Pyatt actually looked really good with Neal and Malkin at points. Until he blew a big time chance and reminded everyone he is Taylor Pyatt
Time slipped away in regulation. Pens got a point.
Complete madness. First, it was Getzlaf and Perry working. Just unreal chemistry.
Next up was Sidney Crosby. He stripped a Ducks D-man, got a step, then got two or three steps, and had a breakaway on Hiller.
Hiller wins. Crosby is saving up a breakaway goal for a big moment (not in Sochi). You can just feel it.
Next was Malkin and Neal. Then they gave way to more Getzlaf and Perry.
To the shootout we go.
— Fleury's pokecheck was pretty awesome:
– Crosby and Kunitz's moves were both sick. Kunitz with the kickstarter, Petr Sykora special.
– Teemu Selanne had to score to tie it and he did.
– Watch Bylsma and Martin after Selanne scored:
— Sutter rewards them with a goal.
— Fleury stones GetzLAUGH
— Here lies Brian Gibbons.
— Matt Niskanen is out of his mind right now.
— It will be sad when the Ducks lose in the first round.
— We are getting to the fun part of the season now. Back to back home and homes with the Flyers and Washington starting Monday: