Team Black with more of the Pittsburgh Penguins stars trailed Team Gold 2-0 into the third period. Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry had a shutout for Team Gold, but Black set up camp in the offensive zone for most of the third period. Black scored five straight goals, including the empty netter for a 5-2 win in the Penguins final scrimmage before they depart for the NHL bubble city Toronto on Sunday.
The pace was noticeably quicker in the fourth and final intra-squad scrimmage. The last three scrimmages had a few standout performances. On Saturday, the full team showed the speed and energy which catapulted it to one of the best records in the NHL through the first five months of the season despite a nearly oppressive spate of injuries.
Evgeni Malkin dished a couple of stick whacks to rushers.
Brandon Tanev held his ground and shouldered Jared McCann.
Jared McCann didn’t like it and dropped the gloves. Tanev dropped mitts first, but the pair hugged it out after the period.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby didn’t play, but he skated on the side rink in the morning. Crosby practiced on Friday, and there doesn’t sound like there is much worry about Crosby’s availability when the games matter. Regardless, the Penguins were flying on Saturday, and head coach Mike Sullivan even began to mix and match the lines through the second period.
Top prospect Sam Poulin even got a little look beside Malkin and Bryan Rust on the Penguins second line. P-O Joseph also began to emerge, though it may be too late for the 20-year-old defenseman to make the 31-player roster.
Malkin was excellent on Saturday, too. He is clearly ready for the great Stanley Cup chase.
Team Black Goal Scorers: Hornqvist (2), Rust, Marleau (GWG), McCann (EN)
Team Gold: Tanev. Angello.
Pittsburgh Penguins Grades
* Tristan Jarry gets a passing grade for Saturday. What was an A+ shutout dropped to something closer to a B as Team Black scored four straight goals in the third period, and Jarry got the loss.
Jarry robbed half of Black, including Jason Zucker and Phil Varone, in the final minutes. However, Patrick Marleau whipped a top-shelf wrister over Jarry for the game-winner.
Let’s be blunt — for Jarry to force his way into the net, he needs to be the best; that doesn’t mean better than Matt Murray. It means much better. Jarry was better than Murray until the final minutes, and those situations are what make the biggest impressions.
Jarry was brilliant for most of the game and didn’t give up a cheap goal. Take it for what it’s worth.
*Sam Poulin looked bigger and stronger than his first scrimmage, just a few days ago. Perhaps Jarry will have a word with Poulin, who blistered Jarry’s mask and shoulder blades with a few high shots.
The bigger story of that sentence is that Poulin was getting to open ice and firing good, hard shots.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan even doled out a shift or two with Malkin and Bryan Rust. Poulin didn’t shy away from that opportunity, either.
*Matt Murray was average. He was much better on Thursday night, and he was solid on Saturday. However, on one of the two Team Gold shots and a few more scoring chances, Murray was too deep in his net, which gave shooters a bit of daylight. Anthony Angello scored on Murray, but it was a bit of a softie.
If this line is half as good against Montreal as it was in training camp, Montreal doesn’t have a chance. Fast, aggressive, and Marleau looks like he is 25-years-old again (we should all be so lucky).
Marleau’s goal was a beauty. From the right-wing circle, he quickly pivoted to shooting position and snapped it into the small space between Jarry’s shoulder and the crossbar.
*Brandon Tanev was his bedeviling, speedy, sandpaper self. He drove a teammate (McCann) to drop the gloves.
*Justin Schultz had a quiet and effective day, too. I liked his game. He did the things he needed to do, which means he defended is own zone and quickly moved the puck forward.
There were no great plays or “wow” moments, but a good day.
*P-O Joseph. Have we mentioned we like this kid? He was good on Saturday after a rough go on Thursday. Joseph made a few passes that were too slick, and his teammates weren’t ready for that type of thinking, including a nifty bank pass off the mid-wall to Sam Miletic. Joseph moved well; he skated the puck forward when outlets were not available, and he made good passes to spring players into the offensive zone.
He didn’t do enough of either on Thursday.
That stupid Coronavirus. If Poulin and Joseph had a full two weeks and two scrimmages, we can only wonder what the pair would have done.