Not every game can be a pretty, well-executed hustle around the ice. Some nights, it looks and feels like skating in the mud. Monday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t have their usual energy and puck pressure. They tried to generate momentum and play downhill but instead scrambled and chased the puck. But the Penguins have a relentless attitude. Alex Galchenyuk finally broke through, Jared McCann converted a turnover into a goal, then Tristan Jarry made a few sparkling saves in overtime before Jake Guentzel scored the winner.
The Penguins beat the Calgary Flames 3-2 in OT Monday night at PPG Paints Arena. And a few players may have had their breakthrough game despite the overall effort.
The Penguins were on the wrong side of it more often than they have been, but they didn’t let it go, either. Their execution was often like a trickling puck just out of their reach. From the breakout, which never found crisp consistency to the defensive zone coverage, the Penguins fell short of proper. Or even good.
However, they did grind through it.
“As I group, it wasn’t our best. As a group, it didn’t seem we had a lot of jump. I give our players a lot of credit. There’s going to be nights over the course of an 82-game schedule where you’re going to have those nights where it’s a little bit of a struggle,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. “I thought we found a way to stay in the game, to defend hard, and to be hard to play against.”
Sullivan also praised Calgary, but it helped that Calgary is still struggling, too. A better team may have buried the Penguins after a flat-line first period. The Penguins struggled with some of the same aspects the fumbled in practice on Sunday, too.