All’s well that ends well. The Pittsburgh Penguins played well and better for 40 minutes but lost their bearings in the third period and needed overtime to beat the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night. The Penguins stars showed well on the scoresheet and on the ice as Evgeni Malkin, Bryan Rust, Kris Letang, and Sidney Crosby scored the OT winner in the Penguins 4-3 OT win at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins relied heavily on their goaltender Tristan Jarry, especially in the third period. Perhaps it was the 9-day layoff. Maybe it was just a bad period.
“In the third period, I thought he was at his best,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “He made some real big saves for us, especially in the last 10 minutes of the period that gave us an opportunity to get to overtime.”
In the first period, the Penguins raced past the Philadelphia neutral zone trap, which suffocated them in the final game before the 9-day break on Jan. 19. The Penguins limited to just 19 shots on goal in that game, nor did they pressure Philadelphia. Friday night, the Penguins dominated territory and puck possession, but still didn’t get many shots on net.
The first period tied the lowest shot total in any period between the Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, ever. Stick tap to Penguins historian and awesome human Bob Grove for digging that up.
Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz returned to the Penguins lineup for the first time since Dec. 17. He was, as head coach Mike Sullivan put it, “decent,” but his righty-righty pairing with Chad Ruhwedel was not good. Schultz made a splash on his first shift into the game with a wide-open scoring chance from the slot.
“Yeah, as soon as I stepped onto the ice, I got that chance,” Shultz smiled. “That was nice. Wish I would have buried it.”
One of the factors which will make the Penguins a very difficult out in any seven-game series this spring is their ability to adapt. The Penguins stunk against Philadelphia last week. Friday night, they well executed a neutral zone strategy to zip past Philadelphia’s neutral zone clog.
And they made it look easy.