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Happy Penguins Room: Smiling Players, Proud Coach After OT Win



Pittsburgh Penguins game, Rickard Rakell

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Pittsburgh Penguins locker room had more than a few smiles and relieved faces. The Penguins fought back from 2-0 in the second period and 3-2 in the third to become just the fifth team to erase a third-period deficit against the Vancouver Canucks in a 4-3 overtime win.

Sidney Crosby had two assists in his 1246th career game, setting up Rickard Rakell twice, and became the fourth fastest player to 1000 even-strength points, trailing only Wayne Gretzky (608 games), Jaromir Jagr (1165) and Marcel Dionne (1143). Crosby is the ninth player overall to reach the feat.

In overtime, the Penguins won the opening faceoff and had six shots in the 3v3 frame, earning the win when Reilly Smith got behind his man and took the puck to the net. Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko stopped Lars Eller’s one-timer from the right circle, but Karlsson was in the right spot for the rebound.

Must Read: Penguins Grades. ‘Resilient Win’; Three Players Who Rose to the Challenge.

The Penguins have won three in a row, but Tuesday’s victory was easily the most impressive and had the highest degree of difficulty.

The players in the room were a little down on their execution, but coach Mike Sullivan beamed about his team following the game.

Penguins Locker Room

Rakell’s first goal was a beauty. It momentarily seemed Crosby passed up an open scoring chance, but Rakell dangled through a couple of defenders to beat Vancouver goalie Thatcher Demko.

“I was expecting to get a one-timer. It was a little bit behind me,” Rakell said with a grin before being self-effacing. “I just tried to pull it through. I was as surprised as everybody else to see it go in.”

Like others, Rakell didn’t feel like the Penguins had their best game but was proud of the effort as the Penguins defeated the NHL-leading Canucks.


Erik Karlsson

Karlsson played his best game as a Penguins defenseman. In the absence of top-six wingers Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust, there was a legitimate question where the Penguins would find offense. Karlsson, who scored 100 points last season, answered the bell.

Karlsson had three shots and the game-winning goal in overtime. However, it was his movement in the offensive zone that was eye-catching. For the first time, Karlsson consistently took the puck deep and aggressively skated it into the zone for controlled zone entries.

However, Karlsson wasn’t entirely happy with the overall game but pleased with the tireless effort.

“They’re a good team. They were better than us for large portions,” Karlsson said. “We didn’t play our best game, but we stuck with it. (Tristan Jarry) made some timely saves, which he’s been doing all year, which kept us in it. It wasn’t a pretty one, but we stuck with it.”


Mike Sullivan

The Penguins Room feature has occasionally featured a gruff Sullivan expressing disappointment and, on a couple of occasions, being at a loss for words. Sullivan had no such emotions Tuesday as he expressed pride in the team that didn’t fold despite several opportunities.

Given the positive vibes of the evening and it being Sullivan’s 56th birthday, we didn’t ask about the re-emerging problem of shorthanded goals against. The Penguins allowed a shortie in the second period, which erased their momentum and put them in a third-period deficit.

Instead, Sullivan was proud of the team for fighting through those issues against the team that leads the league with 83 points.

“(I’m) real proud of them. I thought we had a certain resilience about us all night long. We get down a couple of goals, we stayed with it,” said coach Mike Sullivan.

Sullivan expounded on Karlsson’s game in great detail, as well as no longer being surprised by Crosby’s milestones.