PITTSBURGH — The Penguins rallied late in the third period to tie the game at two, but Vancouver Canucks right winger Brock Boeser ripped a shot past Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith just 40 seconds into overtime and the Penguins lost at home, 3-2 to the Vancouver Canucks.
The Pittsburgh Penguins chased the puck behind their net twice in the first period and Vancouver buried both opportunities. The Penguins battled the Canucks to a draw for the second and third period but could not generate consistent offense or finish great scoring chances and the early goals held up.
The Penguins revamped top line with Derick Brassard on the left of Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel on the right scored first. Six minutes into the game, all three forwards raced back on the forecheck. Guentzel grabbed a turnover and raced the length of the ice with Crosby. Guentzel looked off Crosby and took the shot from the left wing circle, which may have caught Vancouver goalie Anders Nilsson by surprise.
The Penguins top line was their best line, Tuesday.
Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith stumbled in the crease as the Penguins overcommitted to the puck carrier, Tim Schaller, below the goal line. Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton jumped into the slot to blast it past the fallen DeSmith.
“A couple chaotic sequences where the puck wound up in the back of the net. I kind of wish I showed a little bit more poise on the first one, at least,” said DeSmith. “We played great. Probably our best game of the season. So it definitely stings.”
The Penguins again overcommitted on the Canucks second goal. Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin was hounding Schaller, but Jack Johnson stepped into Schaller. The Penguins forwards left the back door unlocked and former Penguin center Brandon Sutter was wide open for the snapshot into the yawning cage.
“I thought we played pretty good in the second and third but we put ourselves in a bad spot coming out of the first,” said Sidney Crosby. “We probably carried the play in the second half but didn’t find a way to win.”
The Canucks retreated in the third period and were often content to chip the puck out of the zone.
“They defended really hard. Kept it really simple. They probably flipped (out of the zone) I don’t know how many pucks tonight,” said Penguins converted left winger Derick Brassard. “We’re playing some teams that are coming out of the gate pretty hard. As a team, we’re trying to take some steps every game.”
As traffic was backing up at the Squirrel Tunnel, the Penguins tied the game. With just over three minutes to go, Evgeni Malkin stole the puck in the defensive zone and snapped it ahead to Phil Kesel. Kessel and Carl Hagelin converted the two-on-one break when Kessel held the puck until he slid Nilsson out of position.
A quick pass to Hagelin in the crease and the Penguins forced overtime.
Penguins Locker Room
The Penguins locker room was a mix of optimism and frustration. Crosby snapped his towel and hat off the rack before his media scrum. DeSmith was not a happy camper, either.
Though Brassard professed optimism, largely because his line was the Penguins best. Guentzel and Crosby had three shots, each. Brassard was without a shot but the trio generated eight scoring chances and a few more which didn’t register because deflections tricked just wide of the net.
Kris Letang played over 25 minutes and Brian Dumoulin played over 22 minutes, as the Penguins juggled their second and third pairings. The Penguins are still searching for permanent pairs, especially without injured Justin Schultz.
The Penguins are in Toronto, Thursday. Toronto has so far laid waste to opposing defenses. Toronto has 33 goals in just seven games and several of their top players, including Auston Matthews, are atop the NHL scoring race. Matthews has scored multiple points in each of the seven games.