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Penguins Notebook: 4th Line Strong; DeSmith’s Miscalculation

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PIttsburgh Penguins, Drew O'Connor

It would have been perfectly understandable if Mike Sullivan and Paul Maurice had split a six-pack after the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 7-6 overtime victory against Florida Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena.

A six-pack of antacid, that is.

That’s because neither team showed much interest in paying attention to the details of its defensive game, and goalies Casey DeSmith and Alex Lyon didn’t do anything to force their way into Vezina Trophy conversations.

It was the kind of performance by both sides that could prompt a coach to seriously reconsider his choice of professions.

Still, there were a few things for Sullivan to like about what he witnessed.

Getting two points was the most important, of course.

A superb showing by Kris Letang in his first game since Dec. 28 certainly makes the list, too.

As does the way the Penguins’ power play rebounded from giving up a shorthanded goal to score on each of its final three opportunities.

And an outstanding effort by the fourth line, which had Ryan Poehling between Drew O’Connor and Danton Heinen, was hard to overlook, too.

Those three accounted for two goals — one of them being Heinen’s first in 35 games — and five assists as the unit made a high-impact contribution to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ victory.

“I thought we did a lot,” O’Connor said. “I think we had some good looks. I thought we spent a lot of time in their zone, which is always good, and didn’t give them many chances.”

O’Connor got his goal, which tied the game, 5-5, at 10:29 of the third period, a split-second after he put a shot off the left post from point-blank range.

“I was just hoping I could get it back,” O’Connor said. “You don’t want to miss an open net like that. It was rolling … but you still have to put that in. I got a little lucky that it came back to me.”

Getting in Rhythm

The Pittsburgh Penguins are in a game-every-other-day stretch, with one day between each of seven consecutive games.

Playing that often can become a bit of a grind, but a lot of guys enjoy being in such a predictable routine.

“I like it,” Sidney Crosby said. “That’s not that bad. It’s a little bit off with the travel — home-away like that — but as far as playing every second day, I think it’s nice to get into that type of rhythm.

“You start playing back-to-backs, three-in-fours, cramming everything in, after a time, it kind of adds up. I think it’s a little bit easier to get into a routine that way.”

‘I misjudged it’

Casey DeSmith, who said he learned that he’d be filling in for Tristan Jarry about five minutes before he began putting on his equipment for warmups, gave up six goals on 39 shots, and didn’t seem to have his game in sync for most of the evening.

That included on Carter Verhaeghe’s goal with 40.8 seconds to go in the opening period, which snapped a run of three unanswered goals by the Penguins and tied the game, 3-3.

Verhaeghe chased down a long lead pass from Aaron Ekblad, finally catching up to it in the Penguins’ zone as DeSmith raced from his crease to get to the puck first.

DeSmith failed, and Verhaeghe, with only one hand on his stick, nudged the puck over him and into the vacated net.

“I misjudged it,” DeSmith said. “I thought it was (moving) a little bit faster. I thought I could get to it first. He made a good play, obviously, kind of chipping it over me.”

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Dean
Dean
7 days ago

The Pens have enough talent to make the necessary changes to the 3rd and 4th lines. Their problem is 2 older players, and because of culture, they won’t address their playing time. They don’t give younger players a fair chance. DOC and Joseph have only improved the more “minutes” they play. Calling up someone from the AHL and having the play 5-7 minutes a game is a joke. I have started wondering if it is by design. I would like to see when everyone is healthy, 5 or 10 games where they roll 4 lines with bottom 6 being: DOC,… Read more »

cacastine
cacastine
7 days ago
Reply to  Dean

Im pretty sure Hallander is out, dude got stretchered off the ice not long ago. POJ has shown a lot of weakness defending against top players I think him playing with Letang against other teams top players and a lot of minutes would be a big mistake.

Rory
Rory
7 days ago
Reply to  cacastine

What is wrong with 52 Friedman? We have no grit. Dumo with Letang is a trainwreck. Dumo’s recent uptick included working with partners who had no previous experience with him. They assumed nothing. Letang is playing with the old Dumo and will result in defensive lapses.

Joseph Iwasevic
7 days ago

Jarrys injury is obviously going to be a problem for the rest the year and we’ll hear his lame excuse at the end of the season like ” I was fighting an injury all season”.

Truly a comedy of errors last night. But fun to watch especially since Pens won in OT finally.

Pens are tied with the Craps (Avs won last night against the Craps) so next the game should be fun.

Joseph Iwasevic
7 days ago

Comedy of errors

Muffin Stuffin
Muffin Stuffin
7 days ago

DeSmith is awful. How long will we be forced to deal with the lack of athleticism and the mediocrity. The Nailers or the ECHL would be fitting because taking reps away from the guys in WB would seem like an injustice.