The Pittsburgh Penguins used another fast start as Evgeni Malkin scored just 27 seconds into the game and scored again later in the first period. The Penguins were able to control most of the game as they outskated Ottawa and won loose pucks. Though the injury bug which has chewed on the Penguins all season again took a bite when Jack Guentzel left the game midway through the third period after scoring the fifth Penguins goal.
The Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2 at PPG Paints Arena on Monday.
Earlier Monday, Guentzel was named the Penguins lone All-Star, though defenseman Kris Letang is a candidate for the fan-voted “Last Man In” selection. In the middle of the third period, Guentzel raced past all defenders and tapped a loose rebound into an open net. However, he tangled with Ottawa defenseman Thomas Chabot and crashed face-first into the boards.
Guentzel was in immediate pain and slowly skated off the ice and directly to the Penguins dressing room
The Penguins smothered Ottawa in the first period. If the 15-4 shot clock or the 12-2 edge in scoring chances doesn’t tell the story, then the 2-0 lead should. The Penguins were seemingly on every loose puck. Malkin had a goal and tied Jake Guentzel with three shots on goal.
Just 27 seconds into the game, Guentzel sprung Malkin and Bryan Rust on a two-on-one. Malkin (10) kept the puck and ripped it past young Ottawa goalie Marcus Hogberg.
“(Malkin) was terrific. That line has been great all season when they play together,” Patric Hornqvist said. “They’ve been our best line. It’s fun to watch and they’re a big part of our success.”
The Penguins New Year party continued throughout the first period. Dominik Simon continued breaking from his cocoon, too. He snapped a 24-game goalless streak last Friday in Nashville. Midway through the first period, Simon and Joseph Blandisi worked a give-and-go at the Ottawa blue line. At full speed, Simon (4) roofed a backhand over Hogberg.
The teams traded goals in the second period, but each Ottawa score was quickly followed by a Penguins response.
Ottawa was able to get Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry to scramble. Early in the second period, Ottawa missed the net on a shot but Jarry chased it beyond the posts and set off a hectic few moments, before Ottawa forward Nick Paul (5) buried a wide-open chance from the left-wing circle. Jarry didn’t see the cross-ice pass and Paul snapped it into the yawning cage.
Only 90 seconds later, the Penguins big guns fired again. The Penguins worked the cycle game to hem Ottawa into the defensive zone for two shifts before Bryan Rust slid a pass across the slot to Malkin (11) who didn’t miss.
Later in the second period, Ottawa again pulled within one, before the Penguins quickly responded. Defenseman Chad Ruhwedel made an ill-advised pinch at the offensive blue line which set up an Ottawa two-on-one. Jarry made the initial save on Connor Brown but the rebound kicked directly to Paul (6), who again snapped it into an open net.
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman John Marino set up the Penguins answer. The rookie defenseman pinched along the right-wing wall and used a spin-o-rama move to push deeper into the zone. He spotted Patric Hornqvist with a pass on the far post and the Penguins again led by two, 4-2.
“Yeah, I just kind of reacted,” Marino laughed. “I was lucky to be able to get it to (Hornqvist) and he made a great play.”
It yet another sign the Penguins may be changing their No. 1 goalie, the Penguins returned to Jarry on Monday despite Matt Murray’s 44 save win on Saturday night. Jarry stopped 24 of 26 for his 13th win overall and 12th win in 17 starts. Hogberg slipped to 1-2-2.
Jarry deflected any talk of his individual play.
“I think the team is playing a great team game,” Jarry said. “We’re getting pucks deep and we’re getting pucks in the net at key times and I think that’s helping us a lot.”
Malkin also had enough of Ottawa pest Brady Tkachuk. Late in the game, Tkachuk quickly hopped back on the ice to dig at Malkin, which touched off a handful of penalties and an angry Malkin. Malkin and Ottawa’s JG Pageau received minor penalties. Penguins winger Bryan Rust, Ottawa defenseman Mark Borowiecki, and Tkachuk received 10-minute misconduct penalties.
The Pittsburgh Penguins won their eighth straight over Ottawa and have points in 19 of their last 22 games against the Canadian capital city.