Connect with us


Jaking it: Guentzel Gets OT Game-Winner, 4-3



The Pittsburgh Penguins are in no position to be picky about their points.

They need as many as they can get, as quickly as they can get them.

So the bottom line — they defeated Anaheim, 4-3, at PPG Paints Arena Monday night — is what matters most, because it was just their third victory in the past 11 games and allowed them to keep pace with several clubs ahead of them in the Metropolitan Division standings.

Good thing for them, though, that style points weren’t part of the equation, because they were unimpressive for most of the evening, despite playing one of the worst teams in the NHL.

Jake Guentzel made all of his team’s shortcomings moot when he scored the game-winner from inside the left dot 33 seconds into overtime.

“Great finish by Jake,” Mike Sullivan said.

The Penguins got defenseman Marcus Pettersson back after a two-game absence because of illness, but Jan Rutta was a surprise scratch. Sullivan said after the game that Rutta has an “upper-body injury” and is “day-to-day.”

Mark Friedman was plugged into Rutta’s spot alongside Pettersson.

The Penguins already were without their top two right-shot defensemen, Kris Letang and Jeff Petry, so they again relied on a patchwork group on the blue line.

“We’re asking a lot of some guys right now,” Sullivan said. “It’s an opportunity in one sense, but a challenge in another.”

With a 2-6-2 record in their previous 10 games, the Penguins obviously decided it was time to try something new, so they did: They scored the first goal, something that hadn’t happened since the Winter Classic Jan. 2 in Boston. (OK, they actually lost that game, too.)

Jason Zucker, who turned 31 Monday, got it with a sensational individual effort at 4:16 of the opening period.

His shot from the left side was stopped, but Zucker collected the rebound behind the goal line and tucked the puck inside the right post before Ducks goalie John Gibson could get across the crease to stop him.

Evgeni Malkin and Anaheim alum Rickard Rakell got assists on the goal, Zucker’s 11th.

Friedman was penalized for roughing at 17:04, and Anaheim needed just 46 seconds on that power play to tie the game.

Adam Henrique, positioned at the right side of the crease, swept in a loose puck after a good save by Casey DeSmith on Ducks forward Mason McTavish.

Jeff Carter had a chance to restore the Penguins’ advantage at 4:55, but Gibson turned aside his point-blank shot.

Malkin, though, put them up, 2-1, at 8:46, when he chopped a Rakell rebound past Gibson from the right side of the crease for his 15th. Zucker got the second assist, as that line exerted sustained pressure on the Ducks before Malkin scored.

The Penguins had a chance to pad their advantage when Anaheim was assessed two minors in a 20-second span in the middle of the period but — presumably to the surprise of absolutely no one — failed to capitalize on that opportunity.

They got only two shots on goal during 63 seconds of the 5-on-3 before Guentzel was penalized for hooking at 14:14.

Ty Smith was called for cross-checking with 41.8 seconds to go before the intermission, and DeSmith had to make an outstanding glove stop on McTavish from below the right dot with less than a second to go to keep the Penguins in front.

The Penguins’ power play had another chance to provide a timely goal when Anaheim’s Kevin Shattenkirk was called for high-sticking at 9:11 of the third, but that man-advantage was negated when Rakell was sent off for tripping 40 seconds later.

Just five seconds after Shattenkirk’s penalty ended, John Klingberg beat DeSmith from inside the right circle to make it 2-2.

Trevor Zegras scored a potential game-winner at 15:40, beating DeSmith from above the hash marks, but Bryan Rust forced overtime when he scored from the inner edge of the left circle with 24.8 seconds to go, setting the stage for Guentzel’s game-winner.

“I think it’s a huge win for us,” Sullivan said. “Especially with the way it evolved.”