before the match
Big changes for the Penguins, who welcome back Jeff Petrie and Tristan Garry from injured reserve and back to the lineup. Petrie’s return shuffles the pairs and prompts Ty Smith to become a scratcher. Up front, an injury from the last game ruled out Kasperi Kapanen and gave Danton Heinen another chance to play.
But in the warm-ups, Brian Rast does not wear a helmet and pucks into the forehead area. Pittsburgh only has 12 healthy forwards, so Rust remains on the lineup, despite not being prepared to play the starting lineup. He’s patched up and ready to go on the second shift.
Here’s Ottawa’s lineup, they brought in PO Joseph’s brother Mathieu tonight and made the move to stay with Cam Talbot back in the net.
The first period
A fairly uneventful game until Brook McGinn rocked Eric Branstrom with a slam dunk behind the net. Sticking with his leg partner Travis Hamonic, he hits a slick but clean freak Flexball and steps in after fighting for misconduct and a two-minute minor.
In the ensuing power play, Pens makes the Senators pay. Jeff Petrie emerges and takes over PP1, his point shot directed by Jake Guentzel up front. Talbot stops it but as a result the rebound taps Rickard Rakell to head the ball into the net. 1-0 Pittsburgh takes the lead.
The next turnaround is Jason Zucker doing Jason Zucker stuff, skating like his hair is on fire, getting into the lead, creating chaos, flipping the puck and quickly coming out from behind the net for a backhand into the past Talbot. 2-0 pens score twice in 43 seconds.
First shots 14-12 in favor of the Penguins.
Austin Watson punches Mark Friedman right in the face after the whistle (he tends to have that kind of effect on people) and Pens is back for a second power play.
Ottawa gets its first power play as the game nears the half, and the Penguins kill it.
Bryan Rust gets his legs under him and skates the disc all the way. Guentzel finds a way to slip behind the Ottawa defense and Rust feeds him a nice pass. Guentzel takes it from there. 3-0 pens.
Ottawa won’t go far, after a rush of pens can’t score, Sens takes it the other way. Tim Statzl shoots to the net, Jarry catches it, but everyone is out of control as Crosby and Marcus Peterson slide into the crease. Brady Tkachuk has time to level the ball and throw it into the center of humanity with the Pittsburgh players and goaltender in the crease. Peterson hit and in, Ottawa gets on the board 3-1.
Shots per second, 18-14 in favor of the Penguins.
Marcus Peterson has to get up with a stick and hook Tkachuk to deny him a scoring opportunity in the first minute of the third, and the Senators get a power play as a result. Pittsburgh is killing it.
In a hurry, Crosby feeds Guentzel and goes to the net. Guentzel was going to return the favor, but an Ottawa player steals Crosby’s goal by turning it into his own net by accident. Guentzel’s second game is credited for helping the Pens reach 4-1.
Joseph’s boys end up clashing, PO sticks up and mows his brother but somehow both brothers end up in the penalty area for accidental minor penalties when Mateo blames it on his younger brother. Some things never change, eh?
The Sens also catches a nasty break when there is a quick whistle from the referee who loses track of an uncovered puck before Brady Tkachuk deposits it into the net. This keeps Friedman busy so he and Tkachuk have a lot going on.
That’s the end of the highlights, Pens skated away with a win.
- In a game after Mike Sullivan justifiably vented about the referee (in part, calling Tennessee pens nine penalty kicks “ridiculous”), Pittsburgh was called only for a shootout that resulted in three solid games in Ottawa, all those hits that couldn’t quite Big” can’t be avoided. Could it be different op kits? Pen cleaning game? Yes and yes, but it’s also the epitome of System Play 101. Few are better at playing the “game within the game” than Sullivan, who also got a quick whistle to bust Tkachuk’s goal in the third period and Mateo Joseph took a secondary penalty as nothing more than a punch in the face. (Some of this could be pretty much the baseline NHL player calls, no doubt.)
- This was Jeff Petrie’s first game in over a month where there were obvious, natural rust issues to get back to a high level of play – but it was really nice to see a seasoned professional defenseman from the NHL’s top four again. Whether it was small plays like effortlessly eliminating a 3v2 rush, or launching pucks onto the ice to break with possession, he missed it.
- Same with my neighbor. Calm, sharp, he looked like he hadn’t missed a moment after missing 18 days through injury. And without attacking other goalkeepers, there is a different level than Gary. One does not have to hold their breath on every shot as if they could end up in the back of the net. 46 saves, welcome back to the Tractor! No more leaving!
- And what else can you say about Jason Zucker at this point? He’s playing hard, he’s whooping and whooping for McGinn as he comes out of the box. Just so much heart and passion that he pours into the team during matches. The goals keep coming (he’s now hit seven goals in his last 11 games) and everything is going his way.
- Jake Guentzel isn’t late, but he might as well be working on it. Guentzel made an attempt to clear Ottawa right off the jaw in the second period, but thankfully it wasn’t any worse for the wear. And Brian Rust took that ball to the head in the warm-ups and made an ugly cross-check during the game, smashing into a fantastic area on Guentzel’s goal. Those two players are the key players Pittsburgh could use to get a little bit further. It’s great to see some signs of life, even if they pay a painful price for doing so.
- Two fights in the same game? Wonderful. A sneaky one, maybe something said to schedule the house and house series to turn up the heat a bit. By the end of the night’s games, these two teams were getting tired of each other.
- No more thoughts on the game tonight, though I always write more than intended in an effort to give the best coverage possible. This has always been our way. Unfortunately, as you may have seen, it’s all But six NHL blogs on our network will be closed soon. Through our great community, we’ve built PensBurgh into the network’s No. 2 hockey blog, which I always thought would carry us if we ever hit hard times, but that illusion has been shattered since the powers that be pulled from the No. 1 hockey website (and No. 3, 4, and many more). Other top-performing and/or great-content blogs, or even older blogs that have been around since SBN’s inception in the late 2000s). The remaining hockey blogs to live on (PensBurgh included) seem to have been chosen at random with no apparent rhyme or reason, but for how long or what the future holds we’re still pretty unsure. Who’s to say what the next decision might be from a high-level or long-term potential for a company area that just snapped a 26/34 blog and laid off a very dedicated and strong employee/leader at Steph Driver. Then again, I guess I could be hit by a bus tomorrow, so who knows. But I know that no matter what, it was fun and in a way I think and I hope this community really sticks around on one platform or another for a long time to come, because of the amount of interest, the bond formed and the sharing and the strong sense of community that is built by millions of readers a year to hundreds of people who fill out the Game Threads and Comments section for my talented and extremely dedicated staff who continually provide a level of timely, insightful news and commentary about the Penguins that I would have proudly pitted against anyone at any time (if I say so myself). Something this strong, I can promise, won’t be broken by budget decisions from a corporate entity, it’s been gaining a lot of strength and momentum. So save or follow My personal Twitter In the event that the lights go out unexpectedly (and that would be unexpected for us now). We seem to hope that this will remain our home with business as usual as it can be for at least the rest of the season. Anyway, we’ll do our best and see what happens going forward, thanks for indulging. I honestly don’t like talking about back-office stuff and things that are unrelated to the focus we have, but given the gravity of the news that came out today, I also felt a responsibility to share what I knew, as well as what’s left up in the air or at least not shared with me now. You earned it by being so loyal and helping us get here, so if we haven’t said it enough, thanks for that.
The next game, however, will be on Sunday afternoon against the Devils. A very important game for Penguins.