The Pittsburgh Penguins will take no points away from this game. And other than a seven minute stretch in the second period, they played well enough to earn a different result. But hockey games are 60 minutes, and if you take your foot off the gas in the NHL, you’re gonna end up behind the 8-ball, and that’s what happened to the Pens tonight.
After a scoreless first, the Pens' nightmare seven minutes began in the middle of the second period. The first goal was a mix of bad luck and opportunistic opponents: Pascal Dupuis blocked a shot, but somehow the puck bounced to a Duck anyway, eventually ended up on Bobby Ryan’s stick and he buried it by Marc-Andre Fleury.
Less than five minutes later, the superb line of Ryan, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf worked a cycle to perfection, and Getzlaf was in perfect position to put Anaheim up 2-0. Two minutes later Saku Koivu scored again off a nifty play to put Anaheim up 3-0.
The Pens would battle back on two Sidney Crosby goals. And they continued clawing and working to get the equalizer, but it just wasn’t to be tonight.
Some other thoughts from tonight:
-Sidney Crosby only got two shots on net, but he obviously made them both count, with two goals. Plus he went 64% on a game high 23 faceoffs. Not a bad night’s work for the best player in hockey.
-No skater tonight played more than Kris Letang’s 26:20 of ice-time. He also had two assists, skated very well and was a +1. Letang’s maturation to a top tier defenseman has been flawless and almost seamless this year.
-Marc-Andre Fleury gets his detractors no matter what he does. Though “the Flower” gave up three goals, it can hardly be his fault, as his team seemingly stopped skating and forgot how to control the puck for that seven-minute stretch in the second period. Fleury had more than a few awesome stops to hold his team in the game, which is all you can ask for from a goalie.
-The Pens won the shot battle 32-19 tonight, and every skater except Maxime Talbot, Mike Rupp and Deryk Engelland contributed to that. On most nights that would be enough to win. Tonight was not most nights, though.
-The Finnish Flash Teemu Selanne played like a young man tonight, with seven total shot attempts and one assist, and finished as a +1. He showed bursts of energy and speed that was surprising and was definitely one of the most dangerous players on either sides out there.
-The curious case of Mike Comrie continues. Though he had spotty ice-time (only 10:02 total) he got a couple great scoring chances, including a centering pass that had Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller totally out of position. Unfortunately Comrie’s shot went directly into Hiller and his scoring drought continues.
-Rookie sensation Mark Letestu is now mired in a seven-game scoreless streak. He’s not playing poorly, but the team is searching for someone to contribute some production and right now it’s not working.
-Travel-wise, it’s tough to beat Pascal Dupuis’ recent days. Fly with the team from Pittsburgh to Dallas on Tuesday. Get a call that his wife is going into labor, so he hurries back to PA just in time for the birth on Wednesday. Then Duper catches a cross-country flight to Anaheim to meet up with his team Thursday. Still, PD9 got five shots on goal tonight, including a couple of prime feeds from Crosby. Dupuis played an inspired game, but like the team, he just couldn’t capitalize.
So on one hand the Penguins frustration continues. They didn’t play poorly tonight, overall, but they didn’t get the W. And now their overall record slips to 6-7-1, with a disappointing 13 points in 14 games played. Results should get better if they keep pushing through. And they won’t have much time to dwell on it, as they go to Phoenix for a game Saturday night against the scrappy Coyotes.