PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins appear to be heading their head coach Mike Sullivan’s advice (and demands). The Penguins pushed the puck low, battled and played defensively responsible against the Ottawa Senators. Even with lineup chaos, the Penguins managed to control the puck, avoid boneheaded giveaways and handily beat Ottawa 5-3.
The lineup chaos may have helped the Penguins which struggles against bad teams like Ottawa. Newly acquired Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann were snarled in Pittsburgh traffic inbound from the airport (Welcome to Pittsburgh, boys. The Greentree hill sucks. Always). After the game, Bjugstad said they needed a police escort to make it on time.
They arrived only minutes before game time.
“We put our gear on and ran out there. (We) basically made it for the anthem,” said McCann. “I’ve had dreams every once in a while where I’m late for a game and that’s kind of what it felt like.”
Given the Penguins 1-7-1 record against last-place teams, the craziness surrounding the situation lightened the mood but also focused the Penguins. Players in the locker room were chuckling about the situation.
In terms of tactical analysis, Ottawa was not tough to play against. The afforded the Penguins more space and time than the Penguins had any right to expect. The Penguins were able to get pressure off the edges and dominate the walls for good stretches.
The Penguins youth was suddenly on display as Teddy Blueger was wall to wall including a goal and Jake Guentzel marked a pair, as well. Casey DeSmith made a few sparkling saves and the Penguins were able to cruise.
Some nights, the X’s and O’s analysis are quite easy. The Penguins were able to exit the zone without heavy pressure, maintained good puck support to move through center ice and played down low in the offensive zone.
They fell asleep in the third period or perhaps Ottawa lulled them with a soft game. With several minutes remaining, Ottawa closed to within 4-3 but Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby quickly ended the threat.
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