The Pittsburgh Penguins first shot wasn’t registered until early in the second period. The Penguins had already taken four penalties and overturned one Vancouver Canucks goal due to offside. Of course, the first Vancouver shot didn’t happen until after the midway point of the first period but Vancouver scored four goals on 14 shots and ended the Penguins four-game winning streak. Vancouver beat the Penguins 4-1.
The Penguins outshot Vancouver 29-9 after the first period, but were outscored 2-1.
“It is what it is. That’s hockey,” Penguins goalie Matt Murray said.
Murray made his first start since Dec. 7 against Detroit. He stopped only 10 of 14 shots, but made a handful of sparkling saves in the first period, including several that counted, and a couple which were erased due to the time erasure after an overturned goal.
The Penguins penalty parade began in the middle of the first period. First. Dominik Simon may have earned a double-minor high-sticking penalty. The ambiguity arrived via Vancouver defenseman Troy Stecher who lifted Simon’s stick most of the way. After a video review, the call stood.
Just 41 seconds later, Brandon Tanev was called for holding after he raced past a Vancouver defender on the forecheck, but used his hands to aid the process.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of period like that. It was bizarre,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. “I don’t think we had a lot of jump early on. Obviously, the penalties put us in a difficult spot. Having said that, I disagreed with the first call–the double minor on Dom Simon. He gets his stick lifted by their defenseman. For me, that’s incidental contact.”
“Anyway, it is what it is.”
The teams played 1:02 of a five-on-three until J.T. Miller beat Penguins goalie Matt Murray. However, the goal was waved off due to an off-side call. The minute-plus and five Vancouver shots were erased. However, both Vancouver and Miller would be rewarded.
After the clock rewind, Jack Johnson took a tripping penalty 46 seconds into the five-on-three. After 15 minutes, three penalty calls, a disallowed goal and only a few shots on goal, Vancouver finally lit the lamp for real. Jake Virtanen (10) snapped it past Murray from 15 away.
Miller (14) got his in the final minutes of the period. He re-directed a shot-pass from defenseman Oscar Fantenberg.
“It feels like forever since I played, but it is what it is,” Murray said. “I thought we got a little bit unlucky there in the first period with some of those calls, but that’s a tough situation to be in–taking all of those penalties.”
In the second period, the Penguins peppered Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom with 19 shots and allowed just six on Murray. After the Penguins finally got their first shot on goal, they gained and kept the momentum for most of the period, but the teams traded goals.
With just over four minutes remaining in the second period, Jake Guentzel (18) finished a rebound for a power-play goal. Guentzel also drew the four-minute high-sticking double-minor on Adam Gaudette when he showed blood to the officials.
However, one minute later, dynamic Vancouver winger Elias Pettersson snared a big Murray rebound on the right-wing circle and ripped it past Murray.
Vancouver didn’t need many shots in the third period. Penguins winger Bryan Rust missed a pair of wide-open nets and the team didn’t generate an abundance of Grade A chances.
The Vancouver top line with Pettersson and Boeser struck at even strength to apply the death knell later in the third period. Pettersson jumped on the Penguins defensemen including Juuso Riikola, who couldn’t clear the defensive zone. Pettersson and Boeser (13) worked a give-and-go for Boeser’s one-timer from the circle.
Guentzel and Rust led all players with five and four shots, respectively.
Markstrom was very good. He stopped 28 of 29 shots, including a few sneaky chances. The Penguins outshot Vancouver 29-9 after the first period.
The Penguins and NHL will take a holiday break. The Penguins’ next game will be Friday in Nashville.