PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel had a breakaway in overtime. The Penguins had a plethora of high danger chances throughout the game which became missed shots or Roberto Luongo saves. Not Guetnzel’s breakaway. The Penguins, which have lost two of their last four games in overtime, won the fifth and earned that valuable extra point, 3-2 Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena.
Three minutes into overtime, Guentzel (32, 33) barreled in on Luongo, deked to the backhand and sent 18,000 fans home happy.
“It was a great play by Sid to lead me there,” smiled Guentzel. “Coming at that speed, you’re just trying to get it on net. I must have got (Luongo) on the fake and got it on my backhand, so it was nice.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins have suffocated their last four opponents and have points in five straight. Finishing the job has been a problem.
The Penguins controlled the puck and offensive pressure throughout the first period but they failed to get significant shots on net. Instead, Florida had the only goal. After Evgeni Malkin took a careless tripping penalty on the second shift of the game, Henrik Borgstrom’s (8) shot was deflected by Penguins defenseman Erik Gudbranson into the Penguins net.
It was the only goal for Florida which otherwise lacked scoring chances.
Sidney Crosby continued his torrid push against opponents. Crosby created a turnover with a hard forecheck just seconds into the second period. After Jared McCann couldn’t play the loose puck in the slot, Jake Guentzel (32) sniped a wrister over Florida goalie Roberto Luongo.
Then in the middle of the second period, Phil Kessel’s slump and Crosby’s dominance collided. On the power play, Kessel was inexplicably left alone near the net. Kessel couldn’t finish–he hasn’t scored since Jan. 30–but Crosby (30) cleaned the rebound.
A defensive miscue and soft goaltending burned the Penguins late in the second period. While Brian Dumoulin and temporary defensive partner Zach Trotman crossed streams and left Pittsburgh native Vince Trocheck open on the left wall. Penguins goalie Matt Murray left a sliver of daylight between his pad and the post. Trocheck (7) didn’t miss.
The teams traded chances in the third period. Former Florida forward Nick Bjugstad had one of his best games in a Penguins sweater. With linemates Patric Hornqvist and Dominik Simon, the trio had nearly 75 percent of the shot attempts and two-thirds of the scoring chances. Bjugstad himself was denied several times as he barged to the net from the right wing wall.
The Penguins also dominated the high-danger scoring chance stat. The Panthers were held to just a pair of great high danger chances in the first two periods.
Murray was the Penguins best penalty killer as he made a few sparkling saves on Florida power plays in the second and third period. Overall, Murray stopped 32 of 34 shots.
The game was Penguins forward Matt Cullen’s 1500th career game. To honor the man they affectionately call, “Dad,” the Penguins wore Cullen sweaters in warmups and Sidney Crosby pushed Cullen to take the opening faceoff. The game also featured Sidney Crosby’s 1200th point and Crosby’s fifth straight multi-point game.
“It was pretty overwhelming honestly. It was way more than I would ever deserve or expect,” Cullen said.