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Penguins Report Card: Crosby & 4 Pens Who Shined, 3 Who Did Not in OT Win (+)

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby

The Pittsburgh Penguins kept their four-point cushion over the Washington Capitals on Sunday with a thrilling 3-2 OT win over the Nashville Predators at PPG Paints Arena. The Penguins kept getting better, though their production and improvement were limited mainly to a few relied upon players.

The game didn’t offer much excitement in the first period. The shots were 11-3. Yes, the Penguins had just three shots. For the record, I was only JOKING about going 36 minutes without a shot before Bryan Rust would score (see also, 2017 Stanley Cup Final). However, the Penguins didn’t get the puck near the net.

Three shots followed just seven in the third period against Washington on Saturday. The Penguins had only ONE shot in the first nine minutes of the second period but finished with 30 overall.

“I thought that third period, we really dug deep. I think that was just such a character win,” Mike Sullivan said.

Casey DeSmith.

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ backup goalie was spectacular. Really. He stopped 33 of 35 shots.

“…It’s so fun to play at home and hear the crowd react to a big save. And maybe the shooter just comes by and gives you like ‘a holy cow’ or something like that,” DeSmith smiled. “It’s the next shot right after that. So, enjoy it for a couple of seconds and then move on.”

He made a few “holy cow” saves, including denying Tanner Jeannot on an uncontested backhander within spitting distance of the net. It was a wide open net, and then DeSmith’s pad was there for a toe save.

To be fair, I don’t know how far Jeannot can spit, but you get the idea.

“…It was kind of a shot from the slot, went off a skate, and I got my toe on it. I saw it go to my left, and I just tried to get whatever I could over there. And, you know, thankfully, he didn’t lift it in the upper half of the net, or else I probably wouldn’t have it. So it’s just one of those situations where you just kind of have to take away the lower part of the net,” DeSmith explained.

Now, there are several essential chalkboard takeaways, and we’ll get into the four Penguins players who played inspired, “refuse to lose” hockey, and a few turned in less than stellar hockey. And brace yourself for an avalanche of play Rakell with Crosby(!) takes. It has merit, but we’ll let everyone else think of it first.

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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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