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Report Card: Carter Debut, Penguins Grind 2-1 SO Loss to Philly | PHN+

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Pittsburgh Penguins Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby

It wasn’t the prettiest game the Pittsburgh Penguins played all season. The Penguins battle with cross-state rival Philadelphia was more like Pennsylvania weather as all styles were represented. The first period was a gridlocked grind, the second period was a track meet, and the third period was (somewhat) structured hockey. The teams careened to OT. Then the shootout.

Penguins winger Jake Guentzel shot first and scored first in the shootout, by Claude Giroux immediately answered. The second Philadelphia shooter, Sean Couturier, roofed a twisting backhander and Philadelphia gained the extra point, 2-1 at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday night.

The Penguins had the first four shots in overtime, but Sidney Crosby earned a tripping penalty in the final two minutes of OT, which forced the Penguins to kill the 4v3 power play.

“Their goalie played really, really well. He made key saves on two-on-ones and odd-man rushes,” Penguins defenseman Kris Letang said of Carter Hart, who stopped 31 of 32 shots. “…Our overall game, we didn’t play well for 60 minutes. We had bursts…”

The first period was not one for the history books or those who enjoy good hockey. It certainly wasn’t a track meet as the Penguins did not register their first shot on goal until defenseman Brian Dumoulin stumbled into a breakaway with about five minutes remaining in the period.

“This is the first time we’ve had a three-day break like, and I can’t remember how long. So our coaching staff was a little bit concerned about that,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. “We do think in the big picture, it’s it it’s really good for our team to allow our guys to recover. And and and that’s an important aspect. But in the short term, in this game, I don’t think we were quite as sharp.”

The first 15 minutes of the period featured three Philadelphia shots, a Sidney Crosby deke on defenseman Justin Braun after which Crosby missed the net, and a powerless Penguins power-play.

Be still your beating heart.

Philadelphia didn’t tear up the dance floor, either. The Flyers had one golden chance. About three minutes into the game, Oskar Lindblom had an uncovered one-timer from about 10 feet away, but Tristan Jarry gobbled it up.

Early in the second period, the game began to loosen. Finally.

Just as Crosby did in the first period, Jeff Carter flew past Braun for an unfettered chance. Philadelphia goalie Carter Hart extended his left pad far enough to deny Carter’s forehand reach.

However, a few minutes later, the Penguins core finally broke through the gridlock. Kris Letang took the puck away in the defensive zone and raced nearly 200 feet.

Crosby trailed but without a stick. One-on-one, Letang lowered his shoulder and got the puck on net. Like an F1 pitstop, Crosby barely broke stride as assistant equipment manager Jon Taglianetti handed Crosby a stick.

We’re not sure if Crosby had time to tell Jimmy to go pick out a winner.

Crosby (17) was first on Letang’s rebound and slipped it past Hart.

Jarry was a rock in the second period. After seeing only five shots in the first period, Jarry had to face a couple of barrages near the Penguins crease. Midway through the period, Jarry did his best Dominik Hasek impersonation. From his back, his stomach, and without a paddle, he made a few saves on one sequence.

He did similar late in the period, too.

However, the Penguins had some bad luck in the second period. Despite solid coverage by the Carter line, a blocked shot came right back to Flyers forward Jakub Voracek (8), who beat Jarry from the slot.

After only eight total shots in the first period, the teams combined for 29 shots in the second period.

The Penguins had a late power play in the third period but didn’t generate much offense. Carter Hart was brilliant in the period. He stopped all eight shots, as did Jarry.

Jared McCann led all players with six shots.

Jeff Carter made his Pittsburgh Penguins debut to positive reviews. In addition to his breakaway chance, he was a presence. He finished with just over 17 minutes of ice time, two shots, and two missed shots (in regulation).

Pittsburgh Penguins Report Card and Chalkboard
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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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