The Penguins entered tonight’s game without suffering 2 straight regulation losses under Mike Sullivan since the 4 in a row that they lost in his first 4 games behind the bench. The Penguins continued the trend tonight, topping the Devils 4-3 in a shootout.
It didn’t come easy.
Just 3:33 into the game, Mike Cammalleri shot a bouncing knuckling puck on net. The puck was on the ice the entire way, but took a nasty hop right before reaching goaltender Matt Murray. Murray expected the shot to hit his pad, but rather the puck bounced over his pad and into the net.
Early in the 2nd period, the Penguins were applying pressure in the Devils’ zone. Daley threw a shot on net, and there was a scramble in front. Malkin jabbed at the puck, but it was Guentzel who got the last piece of it, putting the rebound past Devils netminder Kinkaid to tie the game at 1. It was Guentzel’s 3rd goal in as many games in the NHL.
It only took the Penguins a few more minutes to score another goal and take their first lead of the night, as Tom Kuhnhackl scored his first of the season. Kuhnhackl battled for a loose puck and found himself on a breakaway and made no mistake. Kuhnhackl made an absolute gorgeous move for a guy that isn’t in the NHL for his hands. Oleksy, who replaced Dumoulin for tonight’s game, registered his first assist for the Penguins on the goal.
The Penguins, shortly after the goal by Kuhnhackl, got another power play chance and had a huge opportunity to extend their lead to 3-1. Rather, Vernon Fiddler of the Devils scored shorthanded, as he drove in 1 on 1 with Letang and put a backhand shot on Murray that deflected off of Letang’s stick and into the net.
About halfway through the 2nd period, the Devils would receive a powerplay of their own, but they would capitalize, and Cammalleri once again one-timed a knuckling puck past Murray, who could not read the shot. He must have watched some Russ Tyler highlights from D2 Mighty Ducks.
With less than 1 minute remaining, the Penguins pulled Murray in a last ditch effort to score. With just 14 seconds remaining on the clock, a scrum ensued in front of the net, and who else but Sidney Crosby finds the puck and roofs it past Kinkaid to tie the game and send it into overtime
There was only 1 goal in the shootout, and that was by Kris Letang, who beat Kinkaid like a rented mule. Murray stopped all 3 shots, and the Penguins escaped with a win.
4-3 Pens (SO)
- Abysmal powerplay – The Penguins powerplay was 0 for 5 tonight, allowed a shorthanded goal, and still has not scored since Hornqvist was benched with a concussion. I do not believe that this is a coincidence. Hornqvist is such a valuable asset to this team, and even a more valuable asset to the powerplay. It will turn around when #72 gets back to doing his thing in front of the net, but the Penguins need to figure out how to score on the powerplay without Hornqvist.
- Captain clutch – with just 13 seconds remaining, Sidney Crosby gets himself open, picks the puck out of a crowd of people in front, and roofs it over Kinkaid. He’s the best in the world, and still leads the NHL in goals at 15.
- Line mashup – Entering the game, the Penguins put Cullen with Crosby, Rust with Malkin, reunited HBK, but Fehr at center on the 4th line, and scratched Dumoulin for Oleksy. I don’t believe these will all stay in tact, but very interesting mashup of lines deployed by Sullivan…
- The Penguins, once again, fail to lose 2 straight in regulation under Sullivan. That being said, they still need to find their consistency.
The next game is Wednesday, as the Penguins will play the Islanders in Brooklyn on NBC as part of Wednesday Night Rivalry.