The Pittsburgh Penguins had the puck but had nowhere to go. The San Jose Sharks were content to swim around the tank like a cautious predator only willing to strike without risk. San Jose was gifted an overtime power play when Kris Letang tripped Logan Couture and Brent Burns slapped a shot through traffic and past Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry for the extra point, and San Jose beat the Penguins 3-2 in OT at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins searched for their sea legs in the first 20 minutes against San Jose and new head coach Bob Boughner, who is apt to advocate a patient defensive game. The tactical adjustments in the first period alone filled nearly a full notebook page (look for those in the PHN analysis and report card).
The deciding factor was the Penguins adjustment period in the first period when they gave up three odd-man rushes. San Jose capitalized.
For most of the first 40 minutes, San Jose took away the middle of the ice. The Penguins rushed down the wings and possessed the puck deep only to find they were staring at four and sometimes five white jerseys. If you’re not good at math, one staring at five would make Gen. George Custer attack, but those odds otherwise blanket a hockey attack.
“There wasn’t too much ice. They were playing a simple game,” Bryan Rust said. “There wasn’t a whole lot going on out there. I think we did a pretty good job tonight. It just sucks they got a power play in overtime.
However, in the past, the Pittsburgh Penguins would get anxious. They would press. They would get impatient and lose. Just ask the New York Islanders who laughed last April when asked if they thought they could just wait out the Penguins (spoiler: The answer was yes).
If you want a silver lining to Thursday night, it’s in the answer of Mike Sullivan who responded to that very question from PHN.