Tampa Bay is not very good. The Pens are. What a difference Kris Letang made coming back into the lineup though. Totally different dynamic to this team with him healthy. Going to be scary when you insert your other top defenseman, a 40 goal scorer, and oh yeah, the best damn player in the world back into this lineup. Exciting times to be a Pens fan.
Credit to our friend @dannysedd, who was at the game last night while on vacation.
Lineup: Letang returned to be paired with Orpik. Engo got the nod over Despres and Bortuzzo. DJ and Vitale the forward scratches. Sid, Neal, Martin are among the injured. Vokoun in the cage vs. the
short VERY TALL Ben Bishop.
Took like 30 seconds into the broadcast for Errey and Steigerwald to make mention of Ben Bishop being 9 feet tall.
About a minute in or so, Thompson missed a chance at the wide open net. Nate Thompson sucks.
A little under 4 minutes in, the Pens would get on the board first. Pens lost the draw in their own zone, but Dupuis chipped the puck out. Morrow hassled the shit out of the Bolts d-man and drove the net with the puck. It was saved initially, but went off Jokinen’s skate and in. 1-0
Juicy J has 2 goals, 1 assist, and a shootout winner in 3 games since being traded to the Pens at this point. Wooooo. What an acquisition, especially because Shero managed to get Carolina to keep some of his salary.
Pens went on the powerplay about 20 seconds later as Labrie hooked up Jokinen. Letang was on the left point. Malkin cranked one about a minute in from the half wall. It came to Kunitz in the Ryan Whitney Spot, but he couldn’t bury it. The top unit got off the ice and the 2nd unit scored? TK made a nice move to get into the zone and fired a shot. Dupuis buried the rebound over the shoulder of 12 feet tall Ben Bishop. 2-0
Dupuis the last 2 games? Or all season for that matter? Get real, bro.
Bolts coach Coop Cooper called a timeout after that.
Somewhere in there, Steigerwald and Errey informed us that Sid joined the team in Florida, whatever that means. Probably just for some team function.
With about 7 minutes left, a shot came in on Vokoun up high. He went to catch the rebound and Labrie and his stupid last name smacked Koun’s glove with his stick. Puck dropped down to the ice and a scrum ensued the crease. The puck looked frozen, but the ref wasn’t in the normal position to blow it dead. Finally Vokoun found a way to cover it without any harm.
Adams and Malkin each had chances on either side of the 5 minute remaining mark, but both were denied. With 4:22 left, Pens would go to the penalty kill as Malkin went to the box for kind of slew-footing Malone as they battled in front of Bishop. Ryan Malone is a chode. Bolts wasted only 22 seconds of the PP before scoring. Stamkos found Purcell from Stamkos Street across the box at the top of the circle and he found a way to put the puck on goal. Not an easy one-timer to make. 2-1.
Not much really happened the last 4 minutes of the period. After 20 minutes, the Pens had an edge of 13-8 in shots. Letang led the Pens with 8:05 of ice time. Glass led the Pens with 3 hits in 3:15 of TOI.
Potash interviewed Dupuis during the intermission. Duper didn’t do the “thanks Daaaaaaaaaaaan,” but instead chirped Potash for his five-head and tried to rub his head. This isn’t really relevant.
A minute into the period, the Pens would head to the powerplay. Ryan Malone was being terrible again and missed with a stick lift and caught Iggy in the throat. Disco sent out their second unit for the first 20 seconds of the PP. TK was on the point for some weird reason. Whatever. The top unit came out. Malkin went across the ice to Iggy. Iggy deferred to Letang at the point. Letang found him nicely on Stamkos Street. Bing, bang, boom. Iginla all day. Credited to Kunitz though. 3-1.
Letang moved just 3 points back from Subban among D scoring, but Subban is now 5 points up after the Habs dismantled Buffalo last night. Who cares. Hashtag Letang for Norris.
With 15:47 left, Bennett would head to the box for hooking Stamkos. Not sure if that gets called against anyone that’s not a rookie. Stamkos had a chance, but Vokoun made the save. Bolts got their second unit out there. A couple quick passes led to the puck coming to Connelly getting a one-timer at hashmarks. 3-2
Pens PK looked great during the winning streak, but has been balls since the streak ended.
Malkin got ran from behind into the boards right after the goal by Allison Labrie. No call. Nisky went to the box for roughing for whatever reason. Didn’t really matter. Pens killed it off.
With 7:36 left, Pens would head back to the PP as St. Louis hooked up Letang. Powerplay was shit though aside from some sick little move Letang made in the high slot. Bolts killed it.
Brenden Morrow got shoved into Bishop at some point after the kill. Bishop tried getting into Morrow’s face, but we’re pretty sure Morrow would rip his heart out and eat it at center ice.
With about 90 seconds left, St. Louis came racing into the Pens zone. Orpik made a great play on him and got the puck up to Kunitz. Kunitz, Iggy, and Malkin weaved with each other, dishing the puck back and forth. It freed up Malkin for a one-timer in the high slot from Kuni, but Bishop made a huge kick save.
Period ended with shots at 27-15 in favor of the Pens through 40 minutes (14-7 in the 2nd). Letang was still leading all skaters with 16:26 TOI. Glass led with 4 hits. Both teams were 2/3 on the PP too.
Engo and Gudas would start the period in the box for roughing at the end of the period. 4 on 4 hockey to start the 3rd. Sutter, Kunitz, Orpik, Letang vs. Stamkos, St. Louis, Carle, Salo to start.
Just 84 seconds into the period, Tampa turned the puck over to Geno. He came racing in and scored from a weird angle far post. Boooom. 4-2.
No idea how he was able so sneak that one in. Who cares. Hopefully 71 is getting back on track right as 87 seems to be on the brink (ish) of returning.
A few minutes later, Gudas ran Cooke, then started punching him and ramming him and shit. Cooke just took it like a champ. Malkin came in to defend him and then Engo came flying in to get in Gudas’ mouth. Malkin went to the box for cross-checking. Engo went for roughing and Gudas got 4 for roughing.
No clue if Gudas ever played an NHL game prior to this. Never heard of the loser. Don’t care to know anymore about him. His name sounds like cheese.
Right after the penalties were called, Murray wristed a shot that was going way wide of the cage. Jokinen somehow deflected that bastard in passed Bishop. Unreal deflection. 5-2.
Wowowowowowow. What a pass by Dupuis to Murray too. Man.
Puck dropped after that and so did the mitts. Murray and Crombeen. Crombeen tried running him and Murray laid the boom on him.
Not a bad scrap. Murray is an animal. #MurrayFlowSauce.
Orpik did something after that and got a roughing penalty. Malone and Stamkos got penalties too. Pens went to the PP, but had 3 defensemen in the box. Bolts got a shorthanded chance at the start of the kill, but Kunitz made a great defensive play. A little later, Letang made some sick move to get the puck to TK on the half wall where Malkin normally is. TK’s shot was harmless. Tampa killed it.
With over 7 minutes to go, Letang rocked Killorn and St. Louis at once and went the other way and almost buried one. Would’ve been an unbelievable goal. It’s an embarrassment that there is no video of it.
Gudas got a 10 minute misconduct somewhere after that for being a dickhead.
Pens got a PP a minute later as Aulie interfered with TK for whatever reason. Then, 57 seconds into the penalty, Nate Thompson slashed Letang’s stick and broke it. Time for some 5 on 3 for 1:03. Disco threw Glass out there to try to get him one. Iggy found Jussi across the ice. He shot one and Glass was there to bury the rebound. FINALLY. 6-2.
We really wanted Glass to succeed when a lot of people were getting down on him. Excellent. First powerplay goal of his career.
Pens still had a minute or so of powerplay time to work with. They rang one off the pipe in there, but the Bolts killed it off.
Tampa got a powerplay to close out the game as Engo went for roughing Connolly. A shot was deflected in front and went off the post and Purcell tapped it in with about 18 seconds left. 6-3.
1) Jussi Jokinen holy shit. Two goals and an assist in this one to add to his goal, assist, and shootout winner in 3 games as a Penguin. adsklfghjakjsdfhajksdfh
2) Kris Letang holy shit. Absolute beast. Comes back after missing 6 games and doesn’t even seem to miss a beat. Turned the powerplay back into something frightening again too. He played 23:31 (only Nisky at 24:17 had more), registered 2 hits, 3 shots, and an assist. Totally different team on the back end with him in the lineup. He welcomes them to the new age and makes them step out of the shadows and into the sun. Give him all the money forever. Give him all the money for longer than forever if he stabs Pete Wentz with a trident.
3) Pascal Dupuis holy shit. A goal and 2 assists. Twenty goals on the season (one behind Kunitz) in 41 games. Get real. Almost feels like his production has increased without Crosby, if that’s possible? He’s stepped up big time the last few games.
4) Glass (6), Orpik (5), Cooke (4) led the team in hits. Strangely, the Bolts had 26 hits to the Pens 24, for what it’s worth.
5) Negative Sauce: We know it’s Tampa Bay’s gross powerplay, but going 1/4 on the penalty kill is unacceptable. PK hasn’t been good as of late. Who knows. The PK was unreal to start the season, then went cold, then heated up again during the big winning streak, and now is cold again. That being said, the trend may dictate that it heats back up for the playoffs? Again, who knows.
6) Very quiet game for Vokoun. The Lightning only had 19 shots. Nothing he could really do on the 3 goals, but he really wasn’t forced to make any huge saves. Some quality ones, yes, but not huge. That’s not at all a bad thing. Just happy this game didn’t turn into a trap game. Very easy to just shut it down and go through the motions in a game against the 13th place team after already clinching a top 2 seed, but the Pens didn’t do that. Probably speaks volumes of this team’s character. Can’t roll into the playoffs playing complacent hockey.
Pens travel to Sunrise to take on the 15th place Panthers on Saturday night at 7:30. That one might be harder to get up for (phrasing boom) than this one because at least the Bolts have some real players. Oh well. Go Pens.