If there was a mistake to be made, the Pittsburgh Penguins made it in the first 25 minutes. Gallows humor began to permeate the few allowed into PPG Paints Arena. Turnovers, soft goals, missed assignments, and even a three-on-none should have buried the Penguins. Instead, the team found a pay streak in the second period and rode the wave of momentum to erase a pair of two-goal deficits for a 5-4 OT win over the Washington Capitals.
The first 25-30 minutes were as brutal as any of the Penguins have played in a long, long time. But the course correction and the result changed the tone of this analysis, just as it could change the team’s trajectory.
Being 1-3 with a few bad losses would have been a foul stench. Instead, 2-2 with a heroic comeback win could be springboards worthy of launching a triple lindy (Back to School reference).
The Penguins also completed the two-goal comeback with only four defensemen. T.J Oshie dinged Marcus Pettersson with a high hit midway through the second period. Pettersson didn’t return. Also, Juuso Riikola was not available for the third period.
Both are being evaluated for upper-body injuries, per head coach Mike Sullivan. For what it is worth, the esteemed hockey person (a former player known for a few hits and now management with another club) sitting a few seats down in the press box predicted Oshie would get booted and suspended.
Instead, officials knocked the penalty down from a major to a minor. A high hit after the puck is gone? Oshie’s wallet should be much lighter, and he should be suspended. But I won’t hold my breath.
The game was so wild, the Penguins gave up a three-on-none, and Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith launched a 3v5 shorthanded goal with a 125-foot pass (actually a clearing attempt that was perfectly placed) to Teddy Blueger for a breakaway goal.
According to historical site PittsburghHockey.net, the goal came on the one-year anniversary of (trigger warning) Jack Johnson scoring a shortie against the Boston Bruins.
There were some solid and improving performances. And, there were some stinkers. Of the crew in the “stinkers” category, a few have been consistently struggling.