A dominant 38-save showing by Marc-Andre Fleury and a decent (if untested) Pekka Rinne kept the score tied at the end of regulation. A Phil Kessel goal in the 3-on-3 overtime gave Pens fans reason to celebrate earning the extra point.
Here’s that game winner:
i might’ve saved this as philthethrill.gif pic.twitter.com/nqqXG5v75K
— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 25, 2015
New Lines, Similar Results
Last night’s game began with new line combinations, with Kessel getting a shot on Evgeni Malkin’s wing.
Does this revive the #WingerForSid campaign?
If Kessel clicks with Malkin over the next couple games, that duo would act as a de facto number one line; as good as any in the league. You could give Sidney Crosby the leftovers, and he’d have enough talent to work with. It’s not all about Crosby (though a sizable portion of everything the Pens do IS about Crosby), so it was nice to see head coach Mike Johnston shake things up and swap superstars. If he hadn’t, the calls for this job would probably have grown ever louder – though nothing short of scoring more goals will end those calls.
Chris Kunitz found himself demoted to the 3rd line, a move that many fans have been waiting for. Taking his place was Pascal Dupuis, returning to Crosby’s side after an extended absence.
While the moves were refreshing, they did not provide an immediate impact. Chemistry often takes time, so perhaps we’ll know more after a couple games.
Presented Without Comment:
— Drew (@kingling43) October 25, 2015
Fleury vs Neal
Both Fleury and Rinne pitched a shutout in the first period, and both made some nice saves during in the 2nd period. With 8:33 left in the 3rd, Fleury was under seige and former Pens winger James Neal scored his first goal ever against his former team. Pens color commentator Bob Errey seemed perplexed that the Pens didn’t challenge the goal, as Fleury had seemingly been interfered with. No review was made.
Neal got his goal, but Fleury was still stellar.
Power Play Problems
A five minute major power play early in the game resulted in absolutely nothing for the Pens. After missing out the game before on a 5-3 power play and eventually a 6-3 power play, this is a very serious slump with a multiple man advantage.
Last night the Pens were 0-3 with the man advantage.
It kinda reminds me of something…
Blazzing Saddles (1974)
Up: Chris Kunitz
May seem odd to have someone demoted from the 1st to 3rd line listed as trending up, but this is truly to his benefit. Kunitz is still a quality player, though not against the top talent of the other team. The less Kunitz sees the other team’s top defensive paring, the better.
Last night, he was rewarded with a goal for his penalty killing, as Malkin jumped out of the box and fed him for the score.
Down: Mike Johnston
It’s simple: Unless the team starts scoring more goals, Johnston should remain on the hot seat. Bring gifted Kessel to pair with Pittsburgh’s core superstars, it’s understandable that the current offensive output is unacceptable. If the slump doesn’t end, and soon, we may be seeing “Special Assistant To the Head Coach” Jacques Martin step into the role.
Lee is a contributor here at The Hockey Writers as well as at Pens Initiative. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, he worked an internship at VH1 Radio in NYC and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Penn State – New Kensington campus student newspaper, The Nittany Pride. You can visit Lee’s website here: leecjsobotka.com.