Gameday #5 Recap: @ Ottawa Senators, Pens Win

Pens coming off two bad losses to Toronto and Winnepeg.

First Period

First thing I noticed was how hungry on the puck Malkin was. Looked good early. MAF with a few big rebounds. Juicy.

Ottawa’s boards are super bouncy. Strange… Pen’s D looks much more alert early, but no shots and no sustained pressure through 5 minutes.

Spezza hooks Malkin, PP for the Pens. Killed. PP looked a little messy, but give credit to the Sens PK.

Errey and Steigy are gushing over Sarge. Cool. Neither team really generating much.

Stupid chance for the Sens, Fleury on his back makes the save. Not sure how the puck didn’t go in.

Crosby sets up a beautiful chance for Kennedy – days to shoot. TK fans on it. Followed up by a great chance for Duper slapshot. Saved by Craig Anderson.

Malkin intercepts a stretch pass by Zach Schmidt. Center drive by the Big Dawg, sets up a goal by James Neal. 1-0 Pens.

The Real Deal (4).

“The Real Deal has made it one-nothing.” -Paul Steigerwald. With that assist, Malkin moves alongside Rick Kehoe as the #7 all-time assist leader in Pens history.

Silfverberg goes off for a slashing penalty. Sens PK looks good, Pens not getting many chances. Niskanen and Martin with good point shots, but no rebounds by Anderson. Killed. Great chance for Crosby from Sutter, but Anderson makes a sprawling save.

Malkin takes a dumb penalty, Pens go on the PK. Fleury makes a big save off a huge tee-off from Sarge. Pens blocking a good deal of shots. Sarge walks in on Fleury, but Felury denied. Killed.

Malkin gets knocked down by Gonchar. PP for the Pens. Peter Kondra almost beats Fleury short handed, but Letang backchecks and Fleury helps his case.

not the actual chance, but Condra seemed to have one of those games against the Pens.

Second Period

Pens pick up with over a minute on the PP. Still nothing doing on the PP, the entry into the zone is a mess, trying to pass into the zone instead of just carrying it, just isn’t working.

Don’t have a lot of detailed notes on the second period but early on Niskanen went into the boards awkwardly. He didn’t return, no word on the nature of the injury but that could be a huge blow if he’ll be missing some time. Who would the Pens actually turn to, Bortuzzo or Despres?

Overall the Pens were determined to not let the long change get to them in the second period. Throughout the whole game forwards would swoop all the way back to the defense to either get the outlet pass or enable the d-man to carry it himself. Made a huge difference and kept the pressure out of the Pens zone.

At one point Geno tried to pass from one side of the Ottawa blueline to the other, unfortunately for him the man on the other blueline was Sid and he was leaving the ice. Neal (seemingly) avoided touching the puck (thus avoiding a too much man penalty), but then Milan Michalek (who is WWWWAAAAYYYYYYY better than his brother) got his stick on it. Chipped it up to Spezza at center ice. Pens didn’t have enough men back. Spezza was stoned by Fleury but a juicy rebound and Colin Greening made it 1-1.

This is another goal that can simply be chalked up to mental mistakes.

Pens fourth line was on fire today, they barely let the puck leave Ottawa’s zone.

A little bit of back and forth, Ottawa with some chances late in the period, but no dice. Period ends in a draw 1-1.

Third Period

Game still definitely up for grabs at this point. Everyone is kind of feeling a little sick from Winnipeg two nights ago. Lucky for the Pens, the Ottawa fans don’t show up to games and can’t turn games around for them.

So Niskanen didn’t come back in the third period. For me, this is a huge deal because the dude has been, shockingly aside from Paul Martin, the Pen’s most consisten D man. Take a look at some of these other TOI stats from last night:

Martin, Orpik, Letang all with playing basically half the game. Sheesh.

Martin, Orpik, Letang all with playing basically half the game. Sheesh.

Martin: 31 minutes. Orpik: 28 minutes. Letang 29 minutes. That’s a whole lot of minutes that these guys shouldn’t be playing. I mean 31 minutes for Paul Martin?!? He spent almost 3 minutes of that on the PK. Thank goodness there was some discipline for the Pens during this game. Otherwise, Martin would be shouldering a ton of that. I don’t mean to leave out 44 and 58, but come on. Martin posted 31 minutes.

Anyway, early on in the third the Pens get a PP chance and fail to convert. Again. Honestly, the tempo of their power play does not favor them. They’re hitting the line with no speed and everyone within the same part of the neutral zone. I’m honestly surprised that the only short handed goal they’ve given up is to Rick Nash. Their power play looks bad because instead of playing to its strength (highly talented and very fast forwards) they’re trying to slow it down and play too pretty. Cross ice passes at the blue line aren’t working. No-look drop passes aren’t working. Get back to where they’ve found succes: put pressure on the keeper by getting pucks to the net and someone (or some-two) in front of him.

Back and forth all period. Kinda tense. Don’t want Toronto/Winnepeg all over again.

Overtime

Pens want it. A few chances, but nothing spectacular. You almost want it just to go to a shootout.

So naturally it does. No commentary from Errey about water tonight. Strange on account of there being a shootout and all…

Shootout

Sucks dude.

Milan Michalek up first for the Sens. Tries five-hole on Fleury. No dice.

Neal’s up. Same exact move on Anderson. Goal.

Spezza beats Fleury glove side with a great shot inside the post.

Crosby makes it look easy with a nasty backhand.

Kyle Torris tries to go six-hole, slides in past MAF for the goal.

Malkin pulls Anderson off his mark and puts one in 5 hole.

Full SO here.

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts/Notes

– Niskanen hopefully isn’t out for too long. Bylsma: “Matt Niskanen: lower body injury. To be re-evaluated tomorrow [today] in Pittsburgh.” He’s a huge part of the Pens “success” of their blue line corps so far (and I use success very lightly there). Maybe we see Bortuzzo against New York on Wednesday.

– Powerplay has to be better. 0 for 5 tonight. Give some credit to the Sens PK, but come on guys. On paper you have one of the most lethal power plays in the league. Do something with it.

– Engylland with an incredible backcheck at the end of the game to prevent a goal. Errey made the comment the other night that despite being an ‘enforcer’ type, Engylland is move valuable to the Pens on the ice than in the box. That play showed why.

– Big Dawg finally contributing. Maybe this is the start of good things to come.

– No Dustin Jeffrey, again.

– Give credit to the Pen’s wingers for shutting down Karlsson. He was mostly silent all night.

– Whatever. Islanders at CEC tomorrow.

 

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