These are the top six goals that almost were for the first part of the Penguins 2014 season. Unlike the last grouping, each of these “oh so close” moments happened in a losing effort and could have brought extra wins and points to the Penguins already amazing start to the season. So here they are:
6. Scott Harrington vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (December 23)
Trailing 4-1 late in the 2nd period Sidney Crosby gathered a deflected shot from Evgeni Malkin and circled back to the blue line to wait to for an extra attacker, Chris Kunitz, to take the ice. Crosby then centered to the puck to Kunitz who quickly passed it Scott Harrington who put a great shot on net, which was blocked by Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevski. This could have helped swing momentum and put the Penguins within two goals to start the 3rd period. Instead they were down three goals and ended up losing 4-3.
5. Evgeni Malkin vs. New York Rangers (December 8)
Down 2-1 approaching the midpoint of the 3rd period Blake Comeau and Brandon Sutter fight for the possession in the corner. The puck slips out to Sutter who centered it to Malkin who quickly put the puck on net. Henrik Lundqvist, like he has in his last half-dozen games against the Penguins, stood tall and made the save. The Rangers went up 3-1 just three minutes later, but the Penguins fought back with two goals in 24 seconds to send the game to overtime. The Penguins went on to lose in OT when Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein netted the game winner with a blast from the blue line.
4. Sidney Crosby vs. Detroit Red Wings (October 23)
Sid got this breakaway early in the 3rd period when the Penguins were already up 3-1. At the time this great save by Jimmy Howard did not appear to be a game winner, but in hindsight it was. This almost breakaway goal would have put the Penguins up 4-1 and probably would have kept Detroit from pulling their goalie with under three minutes to play in the 3rd. Detroit scored two goals in the last three minutes of the game, both after pulling their goalie, and won on a shot from Justin Abdelkader in overtime which sent Joe Louis Arena rocking.
3. Patric Hornqvist vs. Florida Panthers (December 22)
Already up 1-0 midway through the 2nd period, this power play goal, similar to Paul Martin’s shot from the first list, would have put the Penguins up 2-0 and might have kept the game from going into overtime and then a shootout, where the Penguins ended up losing 4-3.
2. Kris Letang vs. New York Islanders (November 21)
The Islanders went up 3-1 midway through the 1st period of this game and the Penguins fought hard to push the game to overtime. Then just a minute and half into the OT period Kris Letang had this amazing chance to sneak the puck just inside the post but is denied. This shot could have ended the game, but instead the Penguins ended up losing in the shootout.
1. Blake Comeau vs. Detroit Red Wings (October 23)
Just under a minute left in the game, up 3-2 and a turnover gave the Penguins the puck in the Red Wings zone with an empty net in front of three Penguins. Should be game over, but it wasn’t. Malkin forced the turnover, Dupuis picked it up and sent it over to Unfortunately, three Red Wings players were there and positioned themselves wonderfully to prevent this shot from ending the game. Twenty seconds later the Red Wings tied the game and sent it to overtime where they ended up winning with just 43 seconds left.
These are my top 14 Penguins goals that almost were for the 2014 portion of the 2014-15 season. There are a lot of lists and countdowns this time of year, but I hoped to do something a little different with this list as “oh so close” moments, which I believe are a big part of every season. I’m sure that I missed some of your moments, so feel free to share them below. Good luck to all the Pittsburgh fans trying to get around the city on Saturday night, it will certainly be a night to remember with both the Penguins and Steelers playing late games. Wishing all the readers and fans of the NHL and The Hockey Writers a very happy and safe New Year!