A happy return for the penguins, who are bringing Teddy Blueger back from the IR for his first game in almost a month to bring Mark Jankowski to a healthy scratching area.
Just 2:35 in and on her first layer hits the fourth line of pins. Nice chip from Marcus Pettersson out of the zone and finally Teddy Blueger gets a shot, the rebound bounces behind the net where Colton Sceviour corrects him and quickly jumps out and jams him past Mackenzie Blackwood to make it 1-0.
Only a few minutes later, the fourth line meets again with a win by Blueger in the offensive zone. Mike Matheson takes the puck off point and Sceviour is there to score his second goal of the game, his fifth goal of the season and extend Pittsburgh’s lead to 2-0 before the first TV timeout.
Late in the first round, the devils keep themselves within striking distance by getting on the board. Sami Vatanen runs down the right side and throws a puck forward. Miles Wood hits the net and is strong enough on his racket to evade Scevour’s defensive efforts and achieve the goal. 2-1 pens.
The first shots are 10-5 pens that played well and scored a few flash goals from Sceviour to set the game early on.
New Jersey comes out stronger in the first round, scoring the first eight shots of the period. Tristan Jarry is strong at keeping everything out. Sam Lafferty takes the game’s first penalty for hooking, but the pins kill the penalty.
With the 40-second deadline expiring, the dangerous Pittsburgh Top Line strikes to extend the lead. Bryan Rust finds a place in the zone and takes a shot. 3-1.
But wait, the Devils are challenging goalkeeper interference. Jake Guentzel is parked on top of the fold but outside, but Sidney Crosby fought ahead of Ty Smith. There was a frenzy but it didn’t really look like the pins prevented the goalkeeper from playing his position in the blue suit and after a review the referees agree. It’s a good goal and NJ is pitting for the first time because he failed the challenge.
Shots in the second are 14-6 New Jersey, but they fail on goal, then they give up a backbreaker of a goal late … and then you take a penalty that makes one last attempt to reverse the goal.
When it comes to power play with fresh, clean ice, the power play of the pens takes a while, but they are finally making money. Blackwood robs Crosby with a great save, but the puck stays free. Jared McCann grabs the loose puck behind the net and hits Rust in the front. Rust makes a nifty pass for Jake Guentzel, who has an easy tip, and he makes no mistake. 4-1 pens.
PK Subban brings the puck past Cody Ceci into the net and makes contact or at least throws Jarry out of his element while the puck trickles over the line. After a long review, the referees determine that this is also a good goal, and that makes it 4-2 with 12:30 in the game.
The pens decide not to challenge any further. Seems smart because hey the umpires only spent 5 minutes looking at it. Chances are, they won’t change their minds over time.
At 6:30 on the left, the Devils get their second power play of the game when Blueger accidentally clears the puck over the glass, but the pens kill him.
At 3:15 the Devils drag their goalkeeper while losing two points and try to score another 6v5 goal like they did against the Pens on Friday. It is in vain, however, when Sidney Crosby retrieves a puck that was thrown in and hits Güntzel for an ENG. 5-2 pens.
- On the road trip with six games, Güntzel recorded at least one point in each game and achieved 5G + 5A in this distance. At the moment he is almost like a silent assassin who only quietly and consistently does his business in such a clinical way.
- It was also a two point night for Rust (1G + 1A). Rust scored five points (3G + 2A) in the two games against the Devils this weekend. Be it with constant strength or power play, the Pens Top Line is currently playing at a frighteningly good level.
- Sceviour has scored up to five points (3G + 2A) in the last six games with his two goals tonight. Not bad for a man who is likely to be on the 14th or 15th striker on the depth map if the team is ever completely healthy. And could also show that Pittsburgh doesn’t need to bring in another fourth line body just to have an extra body. The players they have be it Sceviour, Radim Zohorna and the returning Blueger are fine.
- I can’t blame the devils for challenging the target. There was no outright ambush of their goalkeeper, but there was enough chaos that officials might see a reason to turn it around. Never know what to do. If you have reversed it, it is 2: 1 again and goes into the third. Instead, they confirmed the goal call and the pens benefited from the power play given for the failed challenge to make it 4-1 at the start of the third game.
- Five of the Pen’s six defenders registered assists (only John Marino was expelled from the board) as the defense’s offensive continues to a significant extent. Great play from Pettersson to start the first goal of the game, great job from Matheson to get the puck into the net for the second goal. Such defense-in-depth contributions are very important to the aggressive way the pens play.
- The Devils lost Pavel Zacha to an injury early in the second half, leading Jack Hughes to a double postponement. Hard defeat in the game for a team looking for a comeback.
- Pittsburgh Power Play stays hot and goes 1/1 as the embattled PK find a way to go 2/2 which has been a huge impact on this game. Reverse some of these results on special teams and the game could go the other way. Instead, this is how you win games in order to prevail against both special forces.
Now the pens have three precious game-free days to regroup and heal some of the minor bumps and bruises that come with playing on a shortened schedule. And they can return home, if only for a game. With the close of trading approaching, there will be no shortage of drama and excitement on the ice in the near future as the season turns into the stretch run.