Even Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan gushed just a little after the Penguins 3-0 shutout of the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday Night at PPG. Sullivan couldn’t hold back his admiration for his walked wounded troop, which played about as well as they could be expected to play. With three new line combinations because of a new injury to Patric Hornqvist and three new defensive pairings, the Penguins didn’t exactly have a lot of pre-existing chemistry.
And so they kept it simple.
And when they didn’t, or when the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis pushed, Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry was equal and better. He made 28 saves in the shutout win. We’ll break down Jarry’s sparkling moments in the Report Card section, but he is also part of the analysis. When the Penguins game went sideways in the second period, Jarry’s elevated. There was even an attempted “Jarry!” chant, though it didn’t get far.
“They have some big bodies, it was just making sure I can get my body in front of the puck as much as I can,” Jarry said.
Teddy Blueger scored just 39 seconds into the game, which was undoubtedly the removal of an emotional burden after the Penguins were thumped in two straight last weekend. Stefan Noesen made it back to the NHL this week and promptly scored a goal. (Watch his locker room chat here). Noesen also played on the power play.
“He’s really good at the net front. He had a Patric Hornqvist type goal (Wednesday),” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “When you go to the net, he has good size, good hands.”
The Penguins didn’t take their foot off the gas and decidedly outplayed St. Louis in the third. Alex Galchenyuk sealed the deal with a breakaway goal a few minutes into the period.
After the rowdy atmosphere the night before Thanksgiving, the Wednesday 8 p.m. start time was apparently past a lot of Pittsburgh Penguins ticket holder’s bedtime. The place emptied beginning early in the third period, and the arena never reached a fever pitch.
The players, on the other hand, most certainly did find the intensity, and they let it show after each goal, too. This Penguins team isn’t supposed to win too many games without the cumbersome list of injured players, including Sidney Crosby. Even Jack Johnson was a scratch Wednesday due to illness.
As a result, the defensive pairings were, um, unusual with the scraps of the healthy defense. The team was forced to gamble with the third pairing of Juuso Riikola and Zach Trotman. And like most things Wednesday night, the gamble paid off.