Game Summary 6: Penguins’ bullets are melting

Six games later, the common denominator between the Penguins and the Rangers is that Pittsburgh pushes, pushes and advances, but returns it (and more) at times due to poor goalkeeping. The “two steps forward, three steps back” routine for the Pens continued on Friday when they dropped Game 6 to New York.

Minus Sidney Crosby (and Tristan Gary… and Brian Dumoulin… and Rickard Raquel) the Penguins bravely faced their arduous ascent, backed by a raucous crowd on their turf at the PPG Paints Arena.

The pens finally got to the board at 14:12 in the game, when Igor Shesterkin couldn’t smash the point of Marcus Peterson with a glove. The bouncing ball bounced off the spot and Kasperi Kapanen hit the net and stayed loose in front of Jeff Carter to enter the backhand to allow Pittsburgh to score first.

The pens held their position and only took a 1:36 bonus after Carter’s goal with a second goal. Jake Guentzel collected a puck and moved on wheels, saw Brian Rost wide open and fired a nice pass for him. Rust quickly hit the net to defeat Shesterkin and drive the fans into a frenzy to score 2-0 in the first period.

But no clue was safe for pens throughout the long streak, and it only took 1:16 early in the second period for Mika Zibanijad to erase everything in his reclusive life.

One of the turning points in the game came when Ryan Lindgren threw Evan Rodriguez off the boards from behind. Of course, no penalty was awarded but Rodriguez got up and fired a retaliatory shot at Lindgren, which was whistled. Just five seconds later, the Rangers climbed onto the scoreboard and lived a life when Zibanjd won his tackle from Teddy Pleuger, sinking into the hole and taking a shot. Louis Domingue was blocked by Kris Letang and couldn’t see him.

With the momentum, Zibanegad reminded the audience of the lack of quality in the Pittsburgh net with a long shot that fell into the net to tie the match 2-2.

The Pens attack had the chance to play the extended 5v3 power and the timeout used to power up the best players, but they didn’t even come close to scoring.

New York will use that to move forward. With Mike Matheson in the penalty area for a slight, vexed two-way call, the pens went to the change but Chesterkin made a pass from none other than Zibanijad. His powerful shot hit Domingu’s gauntlet and he sat on a platter for Chris Kreider to smash from the front. It’s hard to blame Domingu for this, although in a perfect world this disc would probably not come out of his gauntlet for a chance to bounce back.

With pens on the ropes, who was there but Evgeny Malkin to send the team’s lifeblood late in the second half? Jacob Troba attempted a cross-cross pass on the ice in the area read by Malkin and stabbed forward. From there, Gino outpaced Candre Miller and quickly fired a low-glove shot past fellow countryman Shesterkin to lift the pens into a tie.

As the teams battled in the third inning for the green goal, it was New York that found it. Kreider shoots from the outside, and well, Domingue does his best. The ball hit him high, and he thinks he kept it in front of him, but in fact it was firmly propped up and over him and fluttered into the net with 1:28 remaining.

Andrew Cobb hits an empty netter in the last seconds to make Game 7 on Sunday and set the final score at 5-3.

some ideas

  • It’s hard to be too tough, in a very real way, the Penguins fight a battle with one hand tied behind their back with a third goalkeeper, and now neither Crosby, nor Dumoulin and Raquel are in their last five games. They have a lot of guts and they are *** out there *** but sometimes that’s not enough.
  • If it isn’t completely clear now, there’s no safe shot with Louis Domingue. Yes, his gaze has outgrown him and he struggles to stay above water. Sometimes it can get in the way and give pens a chance. But he can’t and won’t keep them above the level for the full 60 minutes, minus a total avalanche of goals in the other direction. This isn’t meant to be rude or rude, it’s just a fact at this point.
  • There he was, and there was some disagreement about the referees needing to make that call on Rodriguez, which swayed the match. But Mike Sullivan wasn’t staring too hard at the referees when Rodriguez came out of the penalty area and returned the sledge of shame back to his seat, and it was all on Rodriguez. Pens must be free from defects. At that moment, whether it was a weak call or not, Rodriguez was not. She gave life to the lifeless Rangers.
  • Was PPG Paints the strongest performer after this Malkin goal since Chris Kunitz’s 2OT Game 7 goal against Ottawa in 2017? The argument can be made. This was a great play by Jane to tease forward hacking, powering up the planes and then the anticipation that was created until it was over. It’s a shame that the Pens lost this game for many reasons, but most importantly giving Pittsburgh a chance in third place would have existed in the franchise lore of the era.
  • Jacob Troupa was on the ice in scoring the three pens tonight, and he looked especially bad on more than one goal. If that’s not a small wink and a nod from the “hockey gods” as punishment for avoiding punishment for hurting Crosby with a lob, I don’t know what is.
  • Biggest Missed Chance: 1:07 in a 5v3 game? Or Rust skates to pass Malkin from the right of the front in the third? Either way, they’re both going to sting at a time like this.

Blowing multiple targets in game 5 and 6 leads to real stings for the pens, especially since they are in many ways the bears of play and being the better team overall. But their vulnerabilities from injury are very real, and they tend to show up. It’s hard to get past wallpaper for a full 60 minutes, try what pens might do. But on Sunday they will have another chance to try again.