The Pittsburgh Penguins entered their first west coast game of 2019 as many of us–sleepy and disinterested. The Anaheim Ducks flew ahead by three goals in the first period but the Penguins woke up. The Penguins struck for three quick goals in the second period and a four-spot in the third period including a pair by Tanner Pearson. Jake Guentzel added an empty-netter to complete the hat trick and the Penguins 7-4 win at the Honda Center. Anaheim has lost 10 in a row, while the Penguins have won 10 of 11.
Guentzel (19, 20, 21) scored a pair in the second period to tie the game 3-3 before he scored the final goal of the game.
Several minutes into the second period, the Penguins forecheck took advantage of Anaheim defenseman Dave Manson’s turnover. Brian Dumoulin intercepted Manson’s blind clearing pass and zipped it to Guentzel who was uncovered near the net. Guentze) had time to decide where and how to shoot before sliding through Gibson’s five-hole.
In the middle of the second period, Guentzel knocked a power-play goal from Patric Hornqvist’s office. After shots by Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, Guentzel golfed the rebound past Anaheim goalie John Gibson.
Phil Kessel scored the Penguins fifth goal and game-winner with a dogged individual effort. Kessel chased Jacob Larsson into the Anaheim zone, stole the puck, raced to the net for a wrist shot and ahead of Larsson’s pursuit buried the rebound.
It looked like Anaheim would run away from the flat Penguins. Anaheim created their own luck just a couple minutes into the game as Nick Ritchie reached around Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson to deflect Ondrej Kase’s centering pass. Ritchie (6) neatly deflected the puck past Penguins goaltender Matt Murray. Anaheim sent more than one person to the net many times and made a point to be disruptive.
Murray has been brilliant over his last eight games, and unbeaten in that span. He was finally human Friday night. Murray allowed Ryan Getzlaf to score with a weak tight angle shot when Murray appeared to anticipate a pass to uncovered Jakub Silverberg in front of the net. Instead, Getzlaf (10) whipped the puck towards the net. Murray initially made the save but the puck trickled through his upper body pads.
Daniel Sprong (6) finally scored a goal in a Penguins game. The 21-year-old former Penguins prospect pumped his fist as he scored against his old team. He smiled broadly after he swept across the slot for a loose puck and snapped it through traffic and Murray.
The goal was Sprong’s sixth goal in 16 games.
When Anaheim got a three-goal lead, the Penguins surged to tie the game but Evgeni Malkin nearly gave it away.
Late in the second period, Malkin tried to stickhandle around several defenders at center ice but was stripped of the puck. Worse, Malkin’s turnover was on the power play and led to a shorthanded breakaway for Jakub Silverberg. Silverberg (12) didn’t miss and Anaheim again had a lead.
“It was three to nothing, but we were still playing some pretty good hockey,” said Pearson. “We just had to stay in the right mindset.”
Malkin made up for his transgression with a pair of primary assists on a couple of Tanner Pearson goals (7, 8) in the third period.
Midway through the third period, Malkin set up Pearson on the doorstep. There was some initial question if the puck sneaked past Gibson.
“I thought it went in. Then G [sic] didn’t think it went in and he told me no,” laughed Pearson. “When we went through the lineup, everyone on the bench said ‘yeah, it’s in.’ It kind of had me freaked out there for a second.”
Malkin and Pearson sealed the deal with about three-and-a-half minutes left. Malkin evaded defenders in the offensive zone with a few slick moves and his wrist shot deflected off Gibson, fluttered into the air and landed behind the Anaheim goalie. Pearson was the first to the puck and tapped it in.
Tap, tap, taparoo.
The Penguins were flat to begin the game as Anaheim had all of the energy The Penguins had some coffee between the first and second periods and scored three straight goals in the second period. Just one minute into the second period, Malkin showed a great player’s intuition. Anaheim goalie John Gibson was without his paddle and Malkin (14) immediately fired a shot stick side. The goal set the Penguins in motion.
Murray stopped 21 of 25 shots. Gibson was spectacular in the first period and made numerous big saves. In the end, the Vezina trophy contender stopped 29 of 35 shots.
Malkin had four points (1g, 3a), Kessel had three points (1g, 2a) and Guentzel had his second hat trick this season.
After the game, Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle became heated and called a reporter a “jerk” when Carlyle was asked about his job security. Carlyle promptly ended the postgame press conference.