Just like last week, the Pens entered their Saturday night meeting with the Stars with both teams on completely different trajectories. 8 days ago, Pittsburgh was riding high on a 5-game winning streak, while Dallas had lost their previous 5. Tonight, it’s the Stars trending up on a 3-game streak, while our Penguins have dropped all 3 games since playing the Stars last weekend. It’s amazing how quickly things can change in the NHL.
This game was the first without the often-scratched $4 million dollar man, Erik Gudbranson, who was dealt to Anaheim for some P.F. Changs lettuce wraps and a couple of WBS jerseys that were stolen by Daniel Sprong and left in the Ducks’ locker room.
Some Kahun love:
The lineup: The Pens welcomed back B-Jugs and Rust, as they inch closer and closer to a healthy roster. Also, it’s great to see 2nd-year defender Juuso Riikola actually getting to play defense. Letang with Jack Johnson on the first pair….get healthy, Dumoulin.
Just like last week, the first period was super boring. Lindell took a Crosby shot to the chops after dropping down to try to block a pass. This would be a sign of things to come, as both teams would see more shots to the face than your browser history. Only thing of note on the scoresheet was an interference call on Pettersson at the end of the period. Jack Johnson paced the team with 8:25 of ice time. Glad that was over.
The second frame certainly picked up in pace, but the result was the same. No goals. One penalty on the Penguins. More players getting hit in the head with the puck. Murray still being fantastic, and now Bishop was being challenged more often, as well. Pens sucking at faceoffs, whatever. Dallas seemed to block everything, and someone lost an edge every few seconds. Murray looked like he was the size of a house and was always in position.
At the very end of the period, Yinzer ham flowers collectively puckered all across North America (and Finland, of course) as Crosby took a hard deflection off the head. Dramatization:
No Twitter stats after 40 minutes, but simple math tells me Dallas had double the shots 11-22.
The 3rd started with no Sidney Crosby on the bench, but it didn’t take long for the captain to return to the ice. This might be the first dodged bullet on the injury front of the season for the Pens, but still, what a relief.
With their leader back, the team was flying. The Pens were getting shots from everywhere and pressuring Dallas into countless turnovers in their own zone. The Stars actually would finish with 22 giveaways.
Another 2 potential head injuries occurred in this period. One, where Sid was hit in the face, again, this time with a stick blade from a reckless Star (no call). The second, when Andrej Sekera lost an edge battling with Bjugstad and went mouth first into the boards. Weird night.
About halfway through the period, Ben Bishop decided to celebrate Halloween early, and passed out some candy to a youngster dressed up as a professional hockey player. They have such the imagination at that age.
After watching the replay, I was shocked the Stars didn’t challenge the play, as Sam Lafferty appeared to kick the right leg of Bishop out as Kahun tried to send the puck to the front of the net. Only 100 seconds later, Bryan Rust gets his first of the year in his first game back….in the rustiest way possible.
With 4-ish minutes remaining, Bishop headed to the bench for the extra skater, but it was Tanev putting the nail in the coffin.
Murray was too good tonight not to earn the shutout and the Pens put the exclamation point on ending their losing streak.
- Simon played a great game. He was all over the place and as intense as I have ever seen him. If he can keep up this play, it will end up on the scoresheet.
- Pens have been awarded 2 powerplays over the past 3 games (none against Dallas), meanwhile refs have given 7 to their opponents.
- Jack Johnson looked just good enough to make me think he might be able to stop being Jack Johnson.
- Great to see Riikola’s physicality and skating ability from the blue line in his 17:35. Marino was noticeable in his 18:20, and was the only +2 skater.
- Difficult stretch of games ahead with Philly (5-3-1), Edmonton (8-2-1), and Boston (7-1-2), and the Islanders (7-3-0). I’m already in full hate-mode for Philly on Tuesday.