The Pens kicked off their California swing last night in Los Angeles with a tilt against the Kings. Following the trade deadline acquisitions and the addition of Jared McCann to the body count the team lined up with the following lines:
Sticks down, puck down, Dustin Brown down, Kings to the powerplay one minute in. The Kings controlled the puck the entire powerplay, with 40 seconds left in the man advantage a big fight for possession busted out in the corner. LA won possession and swung it back to the point, Walker Texas Ranger fired it from the blue line and Blake Lizotte got the upfront deflection to put the Kings up 1-0.
We went to 5v5 for two minutes before Michael Amadio, seriously who in the hell are these players, was hit with a hooking call sending the Pens to the powerplay. The powerplay got some good looks but nothing was going in… this would become a theme for the night.
Following the failed attempt on the man advantage, the game went to 5v5 for 8 minutes with the Penguins dominating the scoring chances. After that time of even strength play Jack Johnson was penalized for holding…
out hope that he’ll stay on the top pair and the Kings went back to the powerplay. This time, the Pens were able to kill off the threat. Nothing else happened in the final 4 minutes.
It was this type of night, folks
The Pens finished the period with 16 scoring chances for at 5v5 compared to the Kings 5 but it was the lone powerplay goal as the difference-maker after one.
If you were lucky enough to stay awake through the first period then you likely fell asleep watching the second. Five minutes in that Blake Lizotte character interfered with Bryan Rust sending the Penguins to another powerplay. They didn’t score on the advantage. They did keep up the pressure the rest of the period, but what would a west coast game be without a backup goalie stealing the show? 12 minutes in Gabriel Vilardi, again with these names, tripped Patrick Marleau and the Pens went for PP number 3. The Pens wouldn’t score on PP number 3. Sad trombone.
As the period ticked down in the final minutes the Kings would get their second of the game when Trevor Lewis scored at 19:28:
If Jack Johnson was a potato chip he’d be undressed. Good news, Dumoulin and Marino are skating. Bad news, Marino let it slip that he is out at least one more week due to a “three-week minimum protocol.”
Heading into the third period the Penguins were leading in shots, 22-14, and scoring chances, 35-15. They were all over the Kings but not yet on the scoreboard. This trend would continue. It’s not that the Penguins are playing bad hockey, quite the opposite as shown in many instances in this game. It’s just a matter of the puck not going in the net. Six minutes in the 2020 MVP finally broke the dry spell after Patric Hornqvist made some nice moves to maintain possession in the offensive zone.
BRYAN RUST (24) Assisted by Malkin (42) & Hornqvist (15) @ 6:42
This is a great play by Hornqvist, with full sticktoitiveness on display. This was Evgeni Malkin’s 900th career game, he picks up career assist 653 and point 1065 on this play. Geno now with 63 points through 48 games this season adds to his career average of 1.18 points per game.
As is the custom in close games in the NHL there were magically no third period penalties. The Penguins tried diligently but could not tie the game up. Time slowly ticked away. Jarry was pulled, no dice. At least they didn’t give up an empty netter.
- Everything is there for the team except the goals. 2nd game in a row they’ve put 35 shots on net while allowing fewer than 25.
- The Pens finished with 51 scoring chances for at even strength to the Kings 30.
- Sheary had some really good pop on the first line
- Patrick Marleau is going to do some big things
- The first line finished with 13:48 5v5 minutes, the 2nd line with 14:21, the Marleau-Blueger-Tanev line with 8:57 and the 4th with 5:37
- The third line with Marleau added had 9 scoring chances for and only 3 against
- The tide will turn eventually, coupled with Dumoulin and Marino coming back, this team is going to go on a tear in March