PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins fourth line was comprised entirely of players who were in the AHL at the beginning of the week and a new defensive third pairing. The Penguins played perhaps their most structured game of the season as the beat the previously undefeated Anaheim Ducks 2-1 at PPG Paints Arena.
Sidney Crosby had two points, including an assist on Jake Guetnzel’s third period game-winning goal.
“I thought he was a force at both ends of the rink. His commitment to defending is just as hard as it creating offense for us,” said Penguins coach Mike Sullivan.
The Penguins power play was one-for-seven but the penalty kill was a perfect three-for-three.
John Marino dressed for the second consecutive game, though he played on the right side of the third pairing with Jack Johnson, Thursday. Johnson and Marino predictably saw the least 5v5 minutes though earned more ice time and responsibility, especially as the other Penguins defensemen were busy with the myriad of power plays.
“I think that I was misunderstood last game when we put (Marino) in the lineup and chose to play seven defensemen. We put him in the lineup because we think he can help us win, and I thought he had another strong game tonight,” Sullivan said.
The Penguins fourth liners were all in the AHL at the start of the week. Adam Johnson-Andrew Agozzino-Sam Lafferty. Lafferty especially acquitted himself well. He played over 10 minutes, while Johnson and Agozzino played less than two minutes.
Penguins 1-0. Sidney Crosby (2)
Someone finally broke the ice. Just three minutes into the second period, Sidney Crosby scored his second goal of the season. The fourth time was the charm for the Penguins power play, after a trio of chances in the first period. With plenty of Patric Hornqvist agitation, Crosby slipped unnoticed to the front of the net and neatly deflected Kris Letang’s shot while Hornqvist drew the defender.
Simple formula Outnumber the other team in the scoring zone and get the puck there. Crosby and Hornqvist did the former, Letang did the latter.
The Penguins fourth power play was courtesy of Josh Manson who retaliated against Jack Johnson for a hard hit along the wall.
Anaheim 1-1. Andrej Kase (1)
Just 59 seconds after the Penguins scored, a combination of defensive zone missed coverages and Matt Murray leaning spotted Anaheim the tying goal. Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz lost the wall battle, as did forward Sam Lafferty. Andrej Kase bolted from the midwall with the puck–Lafferty behind him, Schultz still near the end wall, and Andrew Agozzino guarding the front of the net.
Murray gave Kase (1) the short side of the net. It was a soft goal, regardless of the coverage. Murray must hug the post a bit tighter.
Penguins 2-1. Jake Guentzel (1)
Seven minutes into the second period, Crosby did what Crosby does. He outmuscled two defenders while simultaneously outskating them into the offensive zone. Crosby charged to the net and Guentzel did what he does well, too. Guentzel found a little passing lane in the slot and snapped it past Anaheim goalie John Gibson.
Pay attention to Dominik Simon’s work on the wall in the defensive zone. His grittiness sprung the play. Crosby raced through and kept going as he realized Simon would win the battle. The Penguins transition game clicked into top gear.