The Pittsburgh Penguins earned their first point in three games this season and looked like a cohesive team as they took the East Division-leading Washington Capitals to a shootout. In the fourth round, Jake Guentzel slipped a backhand through Washington Capitals goalie Ilya Samsonov for the winner.
Head coach Mike Sullivan sprang a couple of lineup changes on the Penguins, including backup Casey DeSmith in goal. The Penguins desperately needed points after losing their first two games. The changes worked, and the Penguins were a better team on Sunday than they were last week.
“I was focused on getting a win. In the first period, they got two on me,” DeSmith said. “I’m just happy could battle back. The team played great; the second two periods and even better in overtime.”
Sullivan made sure to emphasize the word, TODAY.
The Penguins overcame a pair of one-goal deficits and an iffy third-period too many men on the ice penalty to push the game to overtime and the shootout, thus earning their first point of the season.
In overtime, the Penguins dominated the puck for the first four minutes but couldn’t find the winner until Guentzel did in the shootout.
Juuso Riikola was also inserted into the lineup ahead of the immediately struggling Mike Matheson. (It turned out Matheson was injured, per Sullivan.) Riikola played with Chad Ruhwedel, a lineup replacement for Cody Ceci on the Penguins third pairing beginning on Friday.
The Pittsburgh Penguins showed some teeth in the early minutes.
Just 19 seconds into the game, the Penguins’ top line with Sidney Crosby, Guentzel, and Evan Rodrigues quickly worked the puck around the zone and won loose pucks. Rodrigues (1) redirected a sharp pass from defenseman Brian Dumoulin.
However, the Penguins’ advantage was short-lived. A few minutes into the game, defenseman Marcus Pettersson iced the puck, and Washington spent most of the next five minutes in the Penguins zone. Washington cracked the scoreboard when Garnet Hathaway knocked the puck off Sam Lafferty’s stick.
Nic Dowd (1) dribbled a backhander through DeSmith’s five-hole to tie the game.
Then the teams began trading goals.
A couple of minutes later, the Penguins appeared to regain control but were quickly behind. Washington villain Tom Wilson separated John Marino from the puck in the Penguins zone. As Wilson squared to hit Marino, the Penguins defenseman ducked, which made Wilson’s job easier.
Alex Ovechkin was not covered as he zoomed to the Penguins goal. Wilson fed Ovechkin (1) backhanded it around DeSmith for a 2-1 Washington lead.
Washington outshot the Penguins 12-8 in the first period. According to Natural StatTrick, Washington had 62% of the shot attempts and led in scoring chances 4-3.
“I don’t think we had the start that we wanted. That’s something we need to address, especially in these early games,” Sullivan said. “I loved the response of our team. I thought our guys played hard in the second and the third against a really good team.”
The Penguins were rejuvenated in the second period, and Colton Sceviour (1) tied the game. After several quality chances, center Teddy Blueger raced into the Washington zone and intercepted goalie Ilya Samsonov’s pass. Before Samsonov could return to the crease, Blueger connected with Sceviour in the slot.
After a lengthy review, and we mean lengthy, officials confirmed Sceviour’s shot hit the in-net camera, not the crossbar, and was a good goal.
However, it was Washington’s turn for the next tally. Penguins winger Jake Guentzel took an interference penalty, which was offset 15 seconds later when officials called Washington winger T.J. Oshie for interference, but Crosby was guilty of hooking 30 seconds later.
Got all that? The end result was a 4v3 Washington power play, which they converted. Evgeny Kuznetsov snapped a pass across the crease to Nicklas Backstrom for an easy tap-in and a one-goal Washington lead.
But again, neither team could get a two-goal lead.
The Penguins answered the bell a few minutes later as the second line showed some life. Bryan Rust made a center-drive to the net, which freed space for Jason Zucker to circle the net and for defenseman Marcus Pettersson, who pinched to the top of the slot. Pettersson (1) reached back for a whistling top-corner wrister past Samsonov and another tied game, 3-3.
“We’ve always felt Marcus has an offensive dimension to his game. He sees the ice pretty well,” Sullivan said. “That goal is a perfect example. He has the ability to jump into the windows of opportunity to give himself a chance for those types of opportunities.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins statistically owned the second period with 75% of the shot attempts and 82% of the scoring chances (9-2).
Statistically and visually, the third period was even-stevens as both teams had a few scoring chances and a few tense moments. The Penguins had six of the 10 scoring chances, but overtime was necessary.
DeSmith stopped 19 of 22 shots in regulation. He stopped the only shot he faced in overtime.