"We Fell Asleep"; 'Hawks Ground Pens 2-1 | Pittsburgh Hockey Now
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“We Fell Asleep”; ‘Hawks Ground Pens 2-1



By Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

After two straight wins and at least a point in three straight games, the Pittsburgh Penguins offense returned to their season funk in a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, Saturday at the PPG Paints Arena.

The Blackhawks not only outshot the Penguins 38-36, they had a clear advantage in both offensive zone time and scoring chances. In the first period alone, Penguins goalie Matt Murray stoned a pair of Blackhawks breakaways and got a pair of assists from the iron to his left.

Midway through the first period, Chicago defenseman Gustav Forsling finally lit the lamp, with power-play goal.

The Penguins killed off a Kris Letang Delay-of-Game minor, but moments later Murray was whistled for tripping. After a wild sequence which saw Murray make a pair of dandy saves on Artem Anisimov, and Riley Sheahan sliding across the crease to make a save, the Murray wall buckled.

From the top of the left circle, Forsling (2) was able to sneak a wrist shot through Murray’s five-hole. 1-0.

The Chicago pressure continued in the second period. Just a couple minutes into the period, Brandon Saad pinged another shot off the post, the third of the game. And, the Penguins needed another kick save by a skater (Matt Hunwick) to keep Chicago at bay.

The Penguins offense showed its first signs of life in the third period, with a shorthanded marker.

Penguins third line center Riley Sheahan was pinned to the boards in the Blackhawks zone, but outmuscled his competition for the puck and sent a strong backhand pass across the ice to defenseman Matt Hunwick.

Hunwick floated a backhand through Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford’s five-hole. 1-1.

The Penguins momentum was short-lived, however. Just 21 seconds later, Chicago retook the lead when Artem Anisimov beat Olli Maatta to a loose puck off the end boards, quickly turned it to his forehand and stuffed it in. 2-1.

“I’ve got to do a better job of getting body position,” said Maatta. “It’s just a mistake I made.”

Maatta didn’t shy away from criticism, Saturday. Not only did he bluntly assess his role on the game-winning goal, he also spanked his team’s lapses.

“We fell asleep a couple times. That can’t happen against this good of a team,” lamented Maatta.

RedBeard's Pittsburgh

The Penguins thought they tied the game, with under 10 minutes remaining. Jake Guentzel buried a chance from the slot, but…Maatta’s night got a little worse. Just before Guentzel’s shot, Maatta skated past Crawford–his right skate hit Crawford’s skates, which threw Crawford off balance.

The Blackhawks challenged. After a review, the goal was waived off. While the home crowd wasn’t happy, it was easily the correct call.

The Penguins applied heavy pressure in the final minutes, but could not tie the game. It wasn’t a 10-1 blowout, as the Blackhawks dealt the Penguins in the first week of the season, but it was a loss with only one goal scored nonetheless.

Kris Letang’s struggles also continued. He took three minor penalties, two left his team shorthanded (one of the minors was coincidental minors for roughing with Richard Panik). Letang’s third penalty led to Anisimov’s goal.

The Penguins penalty kill again yielded multiple results. The Blackhawks scored both goals on the power play and had five chances.

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan’s intensity came bubbling through, immediately in the postgame presser. He used the word “Urgency” no less than six times as he spoke quickly and forcefully about the PK.

The Penguins are killing only 77.3% of power plays, fifth worst in the NHL.

The Blackhawks have beaten the Penguins eight straight times. (Credit Chicago-Sun Times beat writer Mark Lazerus for the stat).

Pressbox Nachos Returns!!

–Evgeni Malkin collided with Crawford midway through the second period. Crawford sought to cover the puck to the left of the crease as Malkin chased the loose puck. The resulting collision caused Crawford to head to the concussion protocol and Malkin earned a minor for goalie interference.

Crawford spent only a minute or two in the locker room. :52 of hockey to be exact. I’m not sure how much a doctor or trainer can determine in one minute. The NHL may want to discuss a bit more of an examination, eh?

Matt Murray said as a goaltender “you’d like to see that called,” but Murray also said his understanding of the rule is that a goalie cannot come that far from the net to cover the puck. Murray seemed a little surprised it was legal.

Judgement call.

UPDATE **However, after pouring over message boards and the NHL rulebook, it appears a goalie has leeway from the goalline to the defensive circles, if he is under pressure. One example given, if a goalie comes out to challenge a shooter and holds onto the puck–that is legal.

Crawford wasn’t far enough from the net to warrant a penalty, in fact, he wasn’t far out of the crease.

–Olli Maatta has been the Penguins best defenseman this year. By a mile. However, a team counting on Maatta to be their best will be in trouble.

Letang must.find.his.game. If he can’t up his play in the short term, staying out of the box is an imperative. After a step forward against Ottawa, Saturday was a Neil Armstrong sized leap backward.

-It is with some sense of irony that I watch Matt Murray play brilliantly but suffer from a lack of support and defensive zone coverage. Murray is getting the hung-out-to-dry treatment which was largely reserved for his predecessor last season.

Murray is holding the fort, despite a 2.81 GAA and .909 save percentage. …Don’t always believe the numbers… Murray has been Four-Star.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.



  1. Tiny

    November 19, 2017 at 2:27 am

    To be honest, I never have a problem with Maatta and he should be that hard on himself,he comes to play every night , he had a mistake that he will learn from plus grow on it, I always loved him and he is young great defenseman who works hard and he is gonna have mistakes.. He gonna be just fine. He has been great. I think he have been effective through the two last years especially in the playoffs with season as well . He growing through his solid great defense after his injuries years ago. .. Next .. In all reality I think the Pens organization has been very blind with Letang..,Yes he had a injury from last year so yes it probably would talk him about at least 10. Games to get swing of things.. From the jumpstart Letang should have been playing 12-15 a games on 2 D pairing..then gradually move up to top.. when the injury happened with Hunwick , Shultz and Cole..He is god awful.. It shows every night.. It been 22 games.. How far the coaching staff are not gonna addressed him?? He is the big issue on the defense.. Last night at the game it showed more with him.. 3 Stupid penalties in a game unacceptable..Especially in the last couple of games.. He is a liability.. No excuses for him.. He doesn’t show leadership, no poised, no lead by example, no communication, tantrums like he always has.. Bad Ill advised passes, no aggressive D for him.. He doesn’t deserve ‘A’ it’s so much more for him..He is injury waiting to happen again in the next couple of weeks..Pens needs to seriously over the next week play him at 12-15 a game.. bench him for like two to three.. eventually talk about him removing NMC to Trade him.. 7 mill is wasted for D man who is injury prone.. Next .. Penguins have to be more aggressive to stop giving scoring chances to teams leave MM out to dry when he is spectacular.. Defense needs to be more in breakouts, forechecks, support, creating odd man rushes, staying out of the D coverage zone.. Forwards happen to communicate with D as well the D too.. its great to make passes but if you can’t get through the goalie the Pens needs to shoot more to the net.. better support among forwards and defense.. Next.. Once again Sidney is having trouble with touches because of defense not giving him breakouts.. touches on the PP.. Shultz should be permanent q.b.. Defense not doing great defense when they are with him(Letang) .. Sidney happens to shot more for himself if he can..He needs more stability with linemate.. right now he too busy playing Defense for his defenseman like Letang because they are consistently cannot stop the turnovers in the zone near MM and all parts of the ice.. I have faith Sid will breakout but Letang and the defense is the big issues since day 1.. it needs to be addressed.. I feel bad Sidney because he come to play every night .. the team needs to be better as unit.. support on all parts of ice needs to happen with forechecks, defense, better breakouts and PP led by Sidney and Malkin plus Shultz..3and 4 lines needs to be more consistent and finds ways to score more beyond 0-1 goal a game..I hope it gets better with all these games I’m going too.. I understand they are human but Letang needs to be addressed then later on ship out from long term better future from 7mill dollars 5 years..I’cant wait to see Rowney as the 4 line center with Reaves again to see if they get problem 12 mins a game because Rowney is difference maker who plays every game on all parts of the ice.. I can’t wait til he come back.. Letang needs to be bump to 2or 3 parings for 5-10 games..I hope it gets better.. Right now I’m disappointed to point I watch last year games over and over..

    • Tiny

      November 19, 2017 at 2:40 am

      The defense happens to start being aggressive not passive..more aggressive forechecks.. create turnovers on teams not from them..activate on defense to help create offense for the forwards.. stay composed on penalties..get the penalties even tho refs miss so much against them..stop leaving MM out to dry due to can’t keep the puck out of the zone near him.. better communication.. bottom six needs like.. I don’t know.. consistently try to score..top line needs better support (defense)on offense for Sidney and Jake plus Rust..So Sid can do his magic.. Letang is the the blame.. I wish he be traded like tomorrow ..
      d Paring Needs to be
      Shultz Cole
      Letang Dumo
      Maatta -Hunwick
      Shultz Cole
      Maatta Hunwick
      Letang Dumo

  2. TeliaTuli

    November 19, 2017 at 10:01 am

    What i don’t quite understand is Sully and the staffs reluctance to use Archibald. He’s everything the new look Pens under JR/Sully exemplifies. Speed, tenacity, not afraid to mix things up.
    On top of that he can PK and is a shorthanded threat.
    Someone on the staff loves Kuhnackl a whole lot and he just doesn’t bring much to the table.
    Barely anything, really.

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