The Pittsburgh Penguins remained undefeated at home and against the Western Conference with their 4-3 shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday afternoon. Both sides went back and forth exchanging the lead throughout the game, and it took a nineteen-year old getting his first career NHL goal and a shootout for the Penguins to come away with the two points in the standings.
Afternoon games have a tendency to be slow, sloppy, and kind of weird. All three of those describe the first period. The scoring started when Alexander Edler put a puck on net from about center ice that hit the chest of Marc-Andre Fleury. No big deal, right? Well, after the puck hit the chest of Fleury, it hit the ice and had just the right type of spin to find its way across the goal line, giving the Canucks a 1-0 lead. About two minutes later, Pittsburgh responded when Sidney Crosby followed a Pascal Dupuis shot and flicked the rebound past Roberto Luongo to tie the game at one and extend his points streak to eight games. The first period ended with the score tied at one, and the Canucks leading in shots, 15-5.
The second period was a mirror opposite of the first, goal wise. The Penguins lit the lamp first on the power play thanks to a too many men on the ice call against Vancouver. At 7:56, Evgeni Malkin held the puck behind the Vancouver net while Kunitz got into position in front of Luongo. Malkin immediately found Kunitz who ripped the puck into the back of the net to give Pittsburgh the 2-1 lead. Like the Penguins did in the first period, the Canucks would answer minutes later when Dale Weise led a rush into the Penguins zone along with Brad Richardson and Kevin Bieksa. The three played catch with one another with the puck going from Weise to Bieksa, back to Weise, who then found Richardson sitting by himself on Fleury’s glove side to tie the game back up at two. The period once again ended in a tie with the Canucks dominating the game in shots, 28-13.
The first half of the third period was a bore so let’s skip ahead to the good stuff. At 12:50, Zack Kassian chose a good time to score his first goal of the season when he tipped a David Booth shot behind Fleury to put Vancouver ahead, 3-2. In the spirit of a college football Saturday, Olli Maatta would say “Not so fast, my friend,” when he scored, not only his first goal of the season, but his first goal in the NHL to tie the game at three. Both Kassian’s and Maatta’s goals came twenty-two seconds apart. Both Luongo and Fleury would deny all comers for the remainder of the period, and we would head to overtime.
The overtime settled nothing, so the game was decided in a shootout. In a puzzling move, at least to this writer, John Tortorella sent out Mike Santorelli, Alexander Edler, and Ryan Kesler to take the attempts for the Canucks. Fleury, who usually rises to the occasion when it comes to shootouts, stopped all three skaters. The Penguins went with Jussi Jokinen, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin as their shooters. Jokinen and Crosby were denied, but Malkin faked out Luongo and slid the puck under his glove to give the Penguins the victory.
-Sidney Crosby has at least one point in every game this season.
-In general, it was a rather sloppy game from both teams. The ice was not in the best condition.
-Why Tortorella didn’t use either Sedin in the shootout is questionable.
-Dan Bylsma said that a decision has not yet been made regarding Olli Maatta going back to juniors or staying in Pittsburgh.
-The Penguins signed Matia Marcantuoni to a three-year, entry-level contract.
1. C Sidney Crosby (1G, 2A)
2. C Evgeni Malkin (1A, game-deciding goal in the shootout)
3. D Kevin Bieksa (3A)