There isn’t much to say to preface this one, the standings were tight, Bob Errey wanted you to know that the Blue Jackets weren’t in the playoffs yet, the Penguins needed to win. What else is there to say?
The first started out with a little bit of a feeling out phase where both teams sort of got some rushes but also didn’t push too hard to make any moves. As the period played out it started to open up and it was the Blue Jackets getting the first big scoring chances that Murray was able to come up large for. Following a few big saves by Murray the Jackets entered the zone and Werenski threw a puck calmly on net that somehow went in
The best explanation I have seen is that this tore the space-time continuum to enter the goal as the puck was on the ice and Murray’s pad was on the ice, where is Stephen Hawkins when we need him?
We clearly see the puck here and it is on the ice…
There are two explanations. 1) The puck went through the pubic hair amount of space where the pad ends and the skate blade is that you can’t even see in the above image.
Following the goal Patric Hornqvist took a “boarding” penalty on red headed bastard child Ian Cole and the Jackets had a chance to go up by two. The Penguins penalty killers were doing a good job shutting down the powerplay and eventually Tom Kuhnhackl got the motor going on a semi-breakaway that left Seth Jones with no choice but to haul him down which negated the powerplay. There was 4 on 4 hockey for 19 seconds and then the Pens got their first powerplay opportunity which they needed all of 27 seconds of before it was hotdog city
PHIL KESSEL (32) Assisted by SCHULTZ (21) & CROSBY (59) @ 10:26 PPG
Tough stance for the “Ian Cole is life” crowd as he misses both the block and the stick on puck as Kessel just ripped this without thinking twice. What a shot.
Both teams picked up the play once 5 on 5 resumed and things started to get chippy after each whistle. About 2 minutes after the Kessel goal the Jackets were getting a break and Olli Maatta took a page out of the “Kris Letang play the puck not the body” playbook as he goes for the poke check instead of getting his body on his man, resulting in a shot on goal that beat Murray.
Again, backhanders are super hard to predict and Murray jumped out to the top of his crease to challenge this shot, sometimes it takes a perfect shot and that is what this was.
Trailing again the game started to really get that playoff feel as each shift seemed to have a scoring opportunity for whichever team had the puck. There were board battles, there were posts, it was great hockey. During one possession the puck popped out to Justin Schultz at the blue line and he just casually throws it in towards Hornqvist in front of the net, we’ve seen enough of Patric Hornqvist to know how that story ends…
PATRIC HORNQVIST (28) Assisted by SCHULTZ (22) @ 15:35
This is why we love Hornqvist. This puck is about as scary as a Drumpf Twitter threat and Hornqvist turns it into a tie game. Few players take the you can’t score if you don’t shoot saying to heart as seriously as Hornqvist does, and this is what happens with that mentality. Some players would try to make a pass here, some would try to control it, Hornqvist just wants to get it to net. Beautiful.
The remainder of the period once again felt like a playoff game as both teams had their chances but neither could find the back of the net to take a lead into the locker room.
A 17 shot first period that included overcoming two one goal deficits is a pretty damn good period of hockey for a team that had 3 days off, overall this was an impressive period for the Pens.
Either their shift key doesn’t work or the Ohio education system is shit
The second period picked right up where the first left off with the intensity with both teams trading chances. 5 minutes in Oleksiak got his stick up high as he continues his minor penalty per game pace and the Jackets got to work on the powerplay. The penalty killers were looking strong through the first minute and then what appeared to be a broken play resulted in a Columbus lead as Vanek makes a ridiculous no look pass to Boone Jenner.
The pass caught everyone including Murray off guard which is evident by his positioning so deep in the net as he was preparing for the puck to go down the boards.
The Penguins attempted to counter but by the time they got their feet under them Bryan Rust was going off for tripping. The Jackets were once again presented with an opportunity to go up by 2 on the powerplay and this time the penalty killers were ready. Columbus possessed the puck in the offensive zone for nearly the entire two minutes as Letang, Oleksiak, Kuhnhackl and ZAR were on the ice for the entire penalty kill. Only one heroic last effort by ZAR finally saw the puck get cleared with 20 seconds left on the penalty but the Jackets got right back into the zone. A truly inspiring effort by the four killers during those two minutes to not only kill the penalty but to also remain disciplined as fatigue and panic crept in.
With the kill the Penguins started pressuring again which resulted in them keeping the puck in their offensive zone for over a minute at 5 on 5. For the rest of the period the Pens were throwing everything on net but Bobrovsky was standing still, not necessarily tall, but still.
At one point Evgeni Malkin saved a goal with this phenomenal backchecking effort:
What an unreal amount of effort out of Malkin there.
The Penguins would get a late powerplay and they got some looks but nothing would go in, as the period ticked down Geno took one final shot that was blocked by Ian Cole of course.
Both teams with 11 shots in the period which is more impressive for the Pens considering they were shorthanded twice
The Pens didn’t cash in on the remaining 9 seconds of the Jenner penalty but were going right back to the powerplay thanks to an Atkinson high stick, with big mistakes come big consequences. The top unit was looking good, Kessel had a great shot that Bobrov had to make a good save on. The Jackets failed to clear the puck out of the zone and the Pens continued their circling in the zone, finally the puck came to Letang and it was the matchup all of Penguins facebook was waiting for, Kris Letang VS Ian Cole, some losers picked Cole, they’re known as idiots.
LETANG (9) Assisted by MALKIN (55) & HORNQVIST (20) @ 2:58 PPG
Look at the screen by Hornqvist!!! You wanna talk about knowing how to perfectly time something? Wow. He skated right across Bobrovsky as Letang fired the puck. That isn’t trying to take anything away from this shot by Letang which is also absolutely perfect. Ian Cole on the ice for 2 Penguins power plays and they cash in on both as he misses the block, just sayinggggggggggggggg.
Following the goal the Penguins attempted to drop the hammer but Bobrovsky was able to stop Hornqvist and Crosby on separate occasions. The game eventually settled into a chess match where both teams went back to the opening feeling out phase as neither wanted to make a mistake. 8 minutes into the period the Penguins were the ones making the mistake as the Jackets come in against the top pairing, Dubois dangles with Dumoulin and gets the puck to net while Atkinson beats Letang to the rebound and the Jackets regained the lead.
You can see in the still of the gif that Letang was puck watching and completely lost track of his man, just can’t happen. Following the goal the Columbus faithful started getting noisy and this mother fucker felt like a game 7. Columbus got some chances but Murray said “no.” The Penguins met some resistance in the neutral zone and the Columbus fans started mock chanting “Murray,” before they could get the third rendition out of their skoal stained mouths the puck was on Conor Sheary’s stick as he went streaking through center ice. Sheary had a defender draped all over him as he went into the goal and Bobrovsky made the first save, and he would’ve gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for that pesky dog
CONOR SHEARY (18) Assisted by KESSEL (57) @ 12:16
What an incredible second and third effort by Sheary here to stick with this play as Jones takes a page out of Letang’s playbook and forgets about the puck. You want to talk about a player struggling all year that comes up huge when the team needs somebody to step up? What a play, I take back 3 bad things I’ve said about Sheary this year but do note that he scored this goal while once again falling.
The following 6 minutes were all Penguins as the Jackets looked completely stunned. The Pens started throwing everything on net and hit the 40 shot mark with 3 minutes left. The refs put the whistles away with both teams already having 3 powerplay chances and decided that this one would be decided at even strength. Every asshole in Columbus had their anuses clenched for the final three minutes as the Penguins just brought the full heat and a nervous energy shot through Nationwide Arena as Columbus started playing for the point instead of the win, which is noble if you’re a pussy.
With 16 seconds to go Panarin got a chance to bring the streamers from the roof but Dumoulin wasn’t having it, the puck rolled of of Panarin’s stick and right to a Jacket who fired a slapper that Murray completely smothered. With 2.9 seconds left the Pens put Crosby out to win a draw which he did and we were heading to overtime for the third time in this season series as Columbus punched their postseason ticket.
The Pens outshoot Columbus 14-8 as they overcome two more one goal deficits in the period, what an effort.
With both teams getting a point it meant that game number 82 would decide the final standings. Panarin had the first chance in the extra frame but Murray said “sit down bread man” then Malkin tried but didn’t get it on net. The Jackets attempted another chance still with Panarin on like a 4 minute shift and then the puck came to Kessel in the defensive zone. What is love? Love is sitting on your couch as your heart starts to beat faster and faster as Phil Kessel skates coast to coast to sell hotdogs to Bob’s Burgers
PHIL THE FUCKING THRILL CAN FIRE THE PILL KESSEL (33) @ 1:06
This is the shot slowed down.
Bartender: Hi what will you be having tonight?
Patron: Tears of Torts on the rocks please
“Bob can’t do the job” and the Penguins get the DEUCE
- Just like the game against Washington it took a near perfect game by the Blue Jackets just to force overtime. The main issue was the Jackets cycling in the zone where they drew Penguins players to the points and then fed forwards in the recently vacated space. Would bet my life i takes Sullivan less than one game to correct that
- Olli Maatta (with the exception of his one mess up) had a really good 200 foot game
- How big is that back check by Evgeni Malkin now?
- Murray had a weird game. He made some huge saves when the team needed him on high level scoring chances and was also beat 4 times. It almost felt like vintage Fleury, where the pad stack windmill save is no problem but the backhander from 20 feet is.
- Ian Cole on the ice for the tying powerplay goal, odd since he is the issue with the Pens penalty kill. Has there ever been a more overhyped 6th defender?
Back in October, there were plenty of questions surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins. They bid adieu to a host of veterans which had, for the prior season or two, helped bring the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals and were key contributors as they lifted the Cup twice. Marc-Andre Fleury. Chris Kunitz. Nick Bonino. Trevor Daley. Matt Cullen. Ron Hainsey. All but one of those players will be in the playoffs this year (sorry Trevor). The only additions the Penguins made in the offseason were Matt Hunwick (the heir apparent to Ian Cole’s seat in the press box), Ryan Reaves (somehow a key component of the Derick Brassard trade), and Antti Niemi (shot out of a cannon into the sun).
Pittsburgh’s record and play through December were a bridge jumper’s wet dream, as they were closer to the basement of the Metropolitan Division than they were the ceiling. Statistically speaking, they were towards the bottom of the League in pretty much everything. And yet, the Penguins kept with their peers in a tight race, and the roster evolved with the additions of Brassard, Jamie Oleksiak, Zach Aston-Reese, Dominik Simon, Riley Sheahan, Josh Jooris, and Casey DeSmith. The Penguins turned things around in January and February and, once again, the Pittsburgh Penguins are playoff bound.
The only thing standing in their way is tonight’s regular season finale against the Ottawa Senators. As much as it has been business as usual for the Penguins to be consistently successful, competitive, and in the playoffs, it is another story altogether for their Eastern Conference co-Finalists from last season. The Senators are heading into rebuild mode, as indicated by their bottom-three place in the League standings, and the apparently inevitable departure of franchise cornerstone defenseman Erik Karlsson. Karlsson, a four-time Norris finalist and two-time winner, is in the prime of his career and has one year left on his very reasonable contract ($6.5M cap hit). Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has to be hoping that either the suitors for Karlsson will bend over backwards for a new #1 defenseman, or that the Senators luck out and land the #1 pick in the NHL Entry Draft (to potentially acquire Rasmus Dahlin, who has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone defenseman) to soften the blow of Karlsson’s departure, or perhaps that landing the #1 pick might convince Karlsson that staying in Ottawa will be worth leaving money on the table.
In any event, tonight’s game is pretty meaningless for the Penguins and means even less for a Senators team which barely has pride to play for. Karlsson won’t even be in attendance, which is pretty telling. And, if their record in the Entry Draft is any indication, the Senators are more than likely to bungle it completely or have their pick be unhealthy and ineffective. (My point: Karlsson has played more games and scored more points than either Alexei Yashin or Alexandre Daigle did in their entire careers, and has scored more points than Ottawa’s only other #1 pick, Chris Phillips, who has played just under twice as many games as Karlsson.) Ottawa needs this summer to go right if their rebuild is to get off on the right foot. (Perhaps they can acquire a decent goaltender for once.) For the Senators and their fans, tonight is the beginning of the end for their current era.
For the Pittsburgh Penguins, however, tonight is just the end of the beginning. They’re headed to the playoffs to try and do what no team has done in thirty-five years: win three straight Cups.