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Penguins Room: DeSmith Smiles After Stealing Win, Third Period ‘In Their Face’

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Casey DeSmith

There probably was no way for Casey DeSmith to know that he would be facing 42 shots when the Pittsburgh Penguins faced Colorado at PPG Paints Arena Tuesday night.

But while he might not have realized exactly what his night would be like, DeSmith had a pretty good idea that the Avalanche, who are fast and skilled and the defending Stanley Cup champions, would keep him busy.

“They’re a good team,” he said. “They have some great players.”

Quite a few of them, actually, from Nathan MacKinnon to Cale Makar to Mikko Rantanen, for starters.

And DeSmith got a good look at most of those guys, especially when the Avs were controlling play during most of the first 40 minutes.

“They came hard,” he said. “They were getting some chances off the rush, early.”

While DeSmith didn’t have much chance to relax at any point in the game, things likely got particularly tense when Evgeni Malkin was penalized for tripping at 1:21 of overtime.

The penalty killers, however, prevented Colorado’s high-octane power play from ending the game while Malkin was in the box.

“I thought we did a great job of keeping them to the outside,” DeSmith said. “They had some one-timers, but we kept them out of the middle, toward the flanks. Then, obviously, that’s my job to stop those. And thankfully, I did.”

And just 15 seconds after Malkin’s penalty ended, Kris Letang scored the game-winner in the Penguins’ 2-1 overtime victory.

As much as the Penguins needed a victory, DeSmith might have needed one more just to burnish the confidence that has taken more than a few hits this season.

“I feel like I’m seeing the puck well,” he said. “Definitely feeling more and more comfortable as games go by. Just happy to get wins at this point.”

Casey DeSmith

 

The rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins Locker Room:

The Penguins’ “second” line was their life raft Tuesday. As Colorado swarmed, the Penguins trio with Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust, and Jason Zucker sneaked in several scoring chances — just enough to keep the Penguins going.

Overall, the second line outscored Colorado (1-0) and outchanced their opponents 10-6. The Malkin line also had five high-danger chances. Stats according to NaturalStatTrick.com.

“I don’t think we were great with our start in the first half of the game, and I thought the second half of the game, towards the end of the second period, and then in the third period, I thought we were really good,” Bryan Rust said. “We were on our toes, we were in their face, and we played the way we want to play. And to play that way and have that confidence when we’re down a goal, I think it’s big.”

Bryan Rust

 

Feisty and energetic, Penguins fourth-liner Josh Archibald played in his first game since Dec. 18. It’s been almost two months, but Archibald was impactful, even in less than 10 minutes of ice time.

Coach Mike Sullivan admitted the coaches wanted to ease him into the game. They limited his penalty kill time, but when Rust took a penalty in the third period, and with Malkin taking a penalty in OT, it was Archibald’s time to shine.

As noted in the PHN+ Penguins report card, the PK was especially stout in the overtime and kept Colorado outside the dots.

“I think that’s just something that we wanted to do. We didn’t want to let them get inside and get shots in tight,” Archibald said. “And that’s just what we worked on throughout the year. So I think we executed pretty well out there tonight.”

Archibald looked pretty happy getting back to work after a long winter on the shelf.

Josh Archibald

 

*Dan Kingerski contributed to this report.