The Pens were in Detroit last night to wrap up a weird end of the week back-to-back in this span of 6 games in 8 days. The team arrived at 2 am following their battle in Boston the night before. Can you imagine getting into Detroit at 2 AM for a business meeting that you had a negative interest in attending? That was the motivation the Pens had for this game. No changes in the lineup except for a goaltender swap.
The Penguins did not score in the first minute of play, which they did in the last game, and several others because Errey and Mears would remind us the rest of the game. Little Caesars Arena was about as dead as that pizza chain for the first 6 minutes until Frans Nielsen took a slashing penalty. The Penguins had a great chance to get up early but that bum Sidney Crosby took a penalty 5 seconds into the powerplay to even things up. Following the expiration of the 4v4, and the 5-second powerplay for Detroit, we went back to some sleep worthy hockey. At 11:14 Darren helm tripped up Marino and the Pens powerplay got a full two minutes, but nothing was happening.
Based on the stats sites that I use the remaining 8 minutes were probably played.
17 scoring chances for the Pens to 12 for the Redwings at 5v5. Murray was sharp while the rest of the team took a nap.
After such a thrilling first period I was debating between doing the dishes or going to sleep. I ended up, begrudgingly, doing neither and remained on the couch watching this game. Just about two minutes in ZAR was called for holding Justin Abdelkader. The Pens penalty killers were doing an alright job, but eventually, the puck came to, checks notes, Filip Zadina, who fooled everyone by shooting low.
The Redwings had some good movement to pull the Pens out of position just enough to allow Smith to get in front of Murray. That positioning mixed with a defender taking a slapshot that stayed on the ice was a perfect combination for Murray having no chance but a prayer. Here was the view prior to the shot, I don’t know about you but I would’ve saved this.
The game went back into its lull until Marcus Pettersson was called for tripping at 9:35. The Penguins were able to kill that one off and the remaining 8 minutes, like those in the first period, were possibly played but I can’t recall them.
The Penguins PR team decided the period wasn’t worth summarizing, and that is fair. At 5v5 the Pens had 18 chances for to just 9 against.
If the thought of turning this thing off and enjoying your Friday night didn’t cross through your head at this point then you are lying. Three minutes into the third Darren Helm tripped up Crosby and the Pens got the break they needed. The Penguins powerplay was a puck possession beast in this game, and during this opportunity, they used three lightning-quick passes to find Bryan Rust, excuse me, 20 goal scorer Bryan Rust, open.
BRYAN RUST (20) Assisted by Malkin (33) & Letang (20) @ 3:36 PPG
If Evgeni Malkin took it on himself to carry the team while Crosby was absent, Bryan Rust made a similar promise to himself as soon as Guentzel was injured. That’s not to say Rust wasn’t already having a career year, but man is he killing it. This initial pass from Letang is so crisp and so good, and Malkin said “hold Beer” as he one ups him with a laser to Rust. Gotta love it.
The Pens were forced to kill off a Pettersson penalty five minutes later which they did with relative ease. The remaining half of the period the Penguins tilted the ice but Howard decided tonight would be the night he remembered how to goalie. The dude hasn’t won a game since October, but you wouldn’t know it from this game. On the other end, Murray was quietly standing tall to keep the game tied.
Time clicked down and the worst possible thing anybody visiting Detroit could ever want to happen happened, more time in Detroit.
Sullivan started the 3v3 with Malkin-Rust-Marino. John Marino gets the opening nod in OT. That line wouldn’t get anything done so Crosby-McCann-Letang went to work. McCann had a few great looks but was deadset on passing the puck to Sid instead of shooting. Eventually, Luke Glendening took about the dumbest penalty you could take in overtime and the Pens would get a 4v3 powerplay. Sullivan wasted no time loading up with Crosby, Malkin, Rust and Letang. The Penguins wasted no time passing the puck around like a blunt at Coachella. Malkin gets the biscuit, fakes a slapshot while looking for Sid’s blade, connection made, bingo baby.
SIDNEY CROSBY (8) Assisted by Malkin (34) & Rust (22) @ 1:33 PPG
If this connection doesn’t make you smile why in the hell are you reading this? Malkin to Crosby, we are so lucky to have witnessed this era. As my high school coach always said, good teams find a way to win.
- I couldn’t care less about the lack of effort from the Pens. Have you ever had to go to a business meeting you didn’t want to? That’s what this game was for them, except worse because it was in Detroit.
- Matt Murray was strong, putting up a .966 save percentage and giving Sullivan something to think about heading into tomorrows game with the Bruins
- This stretch of games before the break is just brutal for the Pens. Arrived at 2 am in Detroit for this game. They will fly home this morning for an optional skate before having to play at noon tomorrow. Woof.
- With the overtime goal Crosby now has 23 points in 20 games. Malkin has 49 points in 35 games while Letang has 30 points in 40 games. This core trio continues putting up the points to carry this team.
- The Pens take on Boston at noon tomorrow.