The poor Detroit Red Wings. The NHL’s historically bad team faced NHL-leading Boston Bruins on the road on Saturday afternoon. Sunday, Detroit ran into a motivated Patric Hornqvist whose hat trick and manufactured net-front chaos powered the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-1 win over Detroit on Sunday afternoon at PPG Paints Arena.
Goalie Matt Murray snapped a two-game losing streak. He stopped 27 of 28 shots, but the story was Hornqvist.
Nearly eight minutes into the game, Hornqvist crashed the Detroit net and confusion followed. Sam Lafferty slipped the puck through the mass of bodies in the crease and Detroit declined to challenge. Official scorers later gave Hornqvist credit for the goal which likely touched him as he laid in the crease and scrapped for the puck.
“The first one was kind of lucky, but the other two were nice goals,” Hornqvist conceded. “Sometimes you just get lucky out there. You keep shooting and find the back of the net.”
As Hornqvist was speaking, official scorers changed the goal back to Lafferty (6) and removed Hornqvist’s assist. In the process, negated countless headlines and special stories. Hornqvist felt the puck hit his leg on the way into the net.
Later in the first period, the Penguins fourth line with Hornqvist again pinned Detroit in the offensive zone but drew a penalty instead of a goal. On the resulting power play, Kris Letang’s (14) point blast made it through the dual-screen by Hornqvist and Bryan Rust, who had to leap to avoid the shot. Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard never saw the shot.
Early in the second period, the Penguins fourth line did the damage again. Andrew Agozzino kept the puck in the zone and chipped the puck forward. Hornqvist (13) pounced on the bouncing puck. His turning, swinging wrist shot from the left-wing circle surprised Howard who didn’t have time to flinch.
The Penguins Sidney Crosby and defenseman Marcus Pettersson executed a perfect give-and-go at the top of the zone, midway through the second period. Crosby (11) found a passing lane in the slot and one-timed Pettersson’s backhand pass over Howard’s shoulder.
Howard was pulled for Jonathan Bernier.
Brandon Tanev helped Hornqvist complete the hat trick midway through the second period. Off a defensive zone faceoff, Tanev raced the length of the ice ahead of all but one Detroit defender. Tanev chipped the puck to Hornqvist who was alone in the slot. A moment later, Hornqvist scored his
15th 14th goal of the season and the ice was littered with free hats. It was Hornqvist’s fourth career hat trick, and his third four-point night (3g, 1a).
The goal also gave fans another food giveaway. In order, fans on Sunday won a free Big Mac, a free Arby’s slider, and a free meatball from Emporio. Monday is a holiday and thus a cheat day. Have at it.
In the second period, Tanev also became the fourth Pittsburgh Penguins forward to have 200 hits and double-digit goals, though the Hits stat was not kept until 2005-06. Tanev is on pace for 300 hits. Chris Kunitz, Hornqvist, and Matt Cooke are the others.
The Penguins have won five of their last six home games and have points in all six (5-0-1). The Penguins swept the season series against Detroit, and have scored four or more goals in eight of the last 10 home games against Detroit.
“I think we’re getting back to the game which has brought us success for most of the year,” head coach Mike Sullivan.
Things didn’t start well. The first few minutes of the game featured more turnovers than shots until five minutes into the first period when Detroit channeled their inner 2008 squad.
Valteri Fillipula (5) finished tic-tac-toe, three pass sequence, all of which occurred on the rush and within 25 feet of the Penguins net.
Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese left the game in the second period with a lower body injury. Head coach Mike Sullivan couldn’t provide details, but an update is expected on Tuesday.
The Pittsburgh Penguins buckled down and scored the next five goals, including three by Hornqvist. The win pulled the Penguins to within one point of the Metro Division-leading Washington Capitals. The Penguins also have one game in hand.