As many of their fans went to bed, the Pittsburgh Penguins woke up. After two terrible periods that ranked among the worst of the Penguins season, the team capitalized on their goaltender, who held the 1-1 tie, and Jake Guentzel buried an overtime chance for 2-1 Penguins win over the San Jose Sharks at SAP Arena.
Louis Domingue. Radim Zohorna. Those are the report card highlights in a sea of lowlights.
It was like the Penguins were in a shark cage. Despite the attack, Domingue kept them safe. In his Penguins debut, Domingue stopped 40 of 41 shots. San Jose outchanced the Penguins 36-16, and San Jose should have boat raced the Penguins, but… Domingue. He got the start because Casey DeSmith is in COVID protocol (and perhaps the Penguins wanted a good look to see if he could supplant DeSmith) and made the most of his opportunity.
“I thought he was terrific. he made a lot of timely saves for us,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “He kept us in the game that first 40 minutes. I don’t think we were at our best. We got outplayed. Louis made some big saves for us.”
With new life in the third period, the Penguins snagged the win, thanks mainly to Domingue, who may be serving time on Sunday for stealing two points.
“I think Louie is a big part of it. You know, he let us hang around in a game that we didn’t play very well, especially the first two periods,” Sidney Crosby said.
The Penguins report card, however, gauges more than the result. And for the second consecutive game, the Penguins’ details, structure, and decisions were a mess. They were an absolute mess. Head coach Mike Sullivan had to juggle the lines early in the second period, and again Kasperi Kapanen was the primary player heading south in the lines.
“But that’s hockey, and the season is going to have its ebbs and flows. These last couple of games is probably the first time we’ve had a little bit of a bump in the road as far as just living up to our own standard and what the expectations are within our room,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “And it’s important that we figure that out together.”
Evgeni Malkin’s arrival has been a significant factor in the Penguins’ struggles, but understanding the context is vital. The Penguins have veered away from many things that make them successful.