Evaluation: Penguins deal with the satan deal and transfer to first place for not less than a second
The penguins use the same line-up as in the previous game, with Casey DeSmith jumping into the net for the first day of a back-to-back situation.
Pittsburgh scores the first goal of the game. Some poor Will Butcher defenders turn around and Jeff Carter basically just takes Jason Zucker ‘s puck and gets that great shot away. Carter can still properly tear the puck apart. 1-0 pens.
Kasperi Kapanen draws a penalty and the Pittsburgh Power Play quickly pays off. Kris Letang throws a shot from the spot that ends up as a loose puck. Jared McCann’s eyes light up as he plunges into the net, which is apparently a goal he has scored many times lately. 2-0 pens.
Shots in the first are 15-14 in favor of Pittsburgh. DeSmith and Mackenzie Blackwood’s return from injury for the Devils were each good to score just two goals in the first frame.
Pittsburgh again strikes from an offensive zone. Sidney Crosby wins the puck back to Cody Ceci, Ceci shoots and the puck is deflected twice – first by Güntzel and then by Bryan Rust and on the net. Counts for Rust’s 20th of the season. 20! 3-0 pens.
The Devils get on the board, Jack Hughes has been dangerous the entire game, and cashes in after leading a 3v2 onslaught and eventually finding the rebound in front of the net and whipping the puck past DeSmith. 3-1 Pittsburgh.
Kapanen collides with his teammate and falls face first on the ice. Very scary, Kapanen was able to get off the ice on his own and would return to the game in the third period.
The Devils climb back left at 9:02 to play a nice game. Defender Ryan Murray makes a really nice hard cross-ice pass after NJ wins a puck fight behind the net. Miles Wood was all alone and able to take a hard low shot. Mike Matheson exacerbated the problem by being wiped out in front of the network and adding to the traffic situation. Suddenly it’s a 3-2 game.
Jason Zucker stepped forward and wiped out a devil in New Zealand. It looked clean enough, but the big kind of open ice you don’t see too often in the NHL these days. Nick Merkley won’t let that happen and challenges Zucker to a short-lived little fistfight.
Who knew that sugar was in it?
New Jersey use a 52 second time out as the goalkeeper is pulled and pushes for a draw at the last minute. It almost works and Nico Hischier has one last chance from the front right, which goes very far. Crosby shoots in a Summer Beater ENG with a 0.1 second lead for his 20th goal of the season to bring a little cherry to the top. 4-2
- Güntzel recorded two main assistants today without scoring a single hit. The puck hardly looked at the McCann power play goal, and then Güntzel also got a point shot on the Rust goal. Pretty crazy day.
- The pegs may have dodged a bullet when Kapanen returned. He fell on the ice in a very vulnerable and vicious way and went down with his head and face first. For a man who just got back on Thursday (with a lower body injury), the last thing the team would like to see lose him again.
- Pittsburgh’s dominance in today’s target group has shaped the game significantly. Two of the goals came directly from Crosby, who won faceoffs, and several other shots and chances were generated there. The pens were above winning 70% of the faceoffs at the start of the game and looked like the stronger, more experienced team from the first few drops.
- The difference in competent goalkeeping for New Jersey compared to the previous games was astounding. Blackwood is one of the best young goalkeepers in the league as his career began. He was unavailable for the first two games of the season due to injury and the pens had no problem scoring almost at will at the start of games and then rolling to victory. That wasn’t the case today.
- Kris Letang celebrated his 34th birthday with a nice relaxing afternoon ice skate. Syke, who played 26:15, had an assist, three shots on goal and another very solid performance.
- The Pens close the chapter of their games against the Devils this season, ending 6-1-1 against NJ this year. It will work!
- The difficulty level increases from here, with Pittsburgh getting the next four games with two apiece against Boston and Washington.