The Penguins dethroned the Kings, 3-1 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday night.
Penguin fans were shocked during the pregame. Rookie goaltender, Casey DeSmith got the nod over Tristan Jarry but, to a larger extent, Jean-Sebastien Dea was inserted into the lineup and Daniel Sprong was scratched.
43 seconds into the game, the Penguins opened up the scoring. Carl Hagelin gathered the puck in the midst of a Kings change. Hagelin found Patric Hornqvist who buried the puck 5-hole from the top of the right circle.
“I was just trying to get it on net” Hornqvist said. “I think he missed it”.
From there, nothing much came from the Penguins. They were bailed out by a strong 1st period from DeSmith and were outshot 11-3 in the frame.
Ice was limited in the second. Most of the period was played in the neutral zone. That was until Anze Kopitar delivered a stretch pass to Adrian Kempe who scored a breakaway goal tying the game at 1.
After the Los Angeles goal, the Penguins ramped up the offense. Forcing Jonathon Quick into numerous circus saves. Pittsburgh got quality chances from all lines over the final five minutes of the period, but they could not solve Quick. Score remained 1-1 after 2.
Only 26 seconds into the 3rd, Evgeni Malkin stayed hot and gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead after corralling a bouncing rebound in the slot after an offensive zone faceoff win.
The Penguins attained several chances throughout the period, but Quick stood tall.
Los Angeles began to instigate extracurricular activity in the third. The first occurrence of a borderline slew-foot by Christian Folin was retaliated by Malkin.
The second was a grotesque hit from behind delivered by Los Angeles Alternate Captain, Dustin Brown. Brown found Justin Schultz on his knees. The hit sent Schultz into the boards face first.
Brown was given a boarding penalty along with a game misconduct.
The Penguins made the Kings pay for Brown’s dirty play, as Sidney Crosby found Hornqvist from the high-slot and Hornqvist elevated the shot over the glove of Quick. 3-1, Penguins.
Two penalties in the final five minutes ended the self-destructing Kings’ chances and Casey DeSmith shut down two shorthanded opportunities late and tallied his first career win.
The Penguins look to finish the west coast trip strong and play the San Jose Sharks on Saturday at 8pm.
-The Penguins found something in the 3rd period vs. Anaheim. They worked off of that momentum from the start.
-To go from a high flying, speed and finesse opponent to a big, physical opponent in the matter of a day is not easy. The Penguins’ adjustments to the game was impressive.
-Although the shot totals weren’t huge early, the Penguins threw pucks at Quick from different angles. The forwards did a fantastic job of crashing the net.
-The play from Dustin Brown does not belong in the sport. Look for him to get at least a three game suspension.
-Crosby, Simon and Sheary looked very good. It was the fastest Sheary has looked in weeks.
-Pittsburgh is now 5-0-2 in the second half of their last 7 back-to-backs. A necessary turnaround after starting the season 0-4 in these situations.
-Looking forward: If Justin Schultz is injured after the hit from Brown, we will more than likely see Ian Cole on Saturday.
There were several scouts in attendance for this contest. An interesting development is the following from Chicago. Scouts from the Blackhawks have been in attendance for at least 3 of the Penguins last four games.
Others to note are Ottawa, Toronto, and Dallas. Scouts from the Stars also attended last Sunday’s game against the New York Rangers.