The ice in Calgary was not great, nor was either team. Over the final 40 minutes, the Pittsburgh Penguins did enough to win and, more importantly, did more than the Calgary Flames. The Penguins mistakes which hampered their first 20 minutes were null in the second and third periods as the Penguins pressured Calgary for a pair of even strength goals then a couple of empty netters in a 4-1 win the Scotiabank Saddledome.
Tristan Jarry won the goaltending battle for the Penguins and may have stolen two points. He stopped 33 of 34, including nine of 10 high-danger chances. The Penguins generated only four high-danger looks against Calgary. It is safe to say Jarry earned another start, again.
Evgeni Malkin returned from a two-game absence due to illness and scored an empty netter for his 400th NHL goal.
Bryan Rust continued his breakout season with his 13th goal in 20 games this season. With so many goals this season, perhaps Calgary should have covered Rust, but they allowed him to skate around the net and step into the left wing circle for an uncovered wrister.
Rust had only 18 goals last season.
The Penguins were forced to say hello to darkness, their old friend. Just 100 seconds into the game, Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz had a knee-on-knee collision with Mikael Backlund. The Penguins defenseman again had to roll with only five defenders. The cantankerous hockey gods have claimed three Penguins defensemen this season, and two of them have been injured in the first minutes of the game.
John Marino and Kris Letang each played over 27 minutes. Jack Johnson patrolled the ice for over 23 minutes. Marcus Pettersson, who had a rough go, played 20 minutes, and Chad Ruhwedel still received only 16 minutes.
Jared McCann also took some point duty on the Penguins power play in Schultz’s absence.
The heatmaps did not show the Penguins pressured Calgary, and the advanced stats didn’t show it, either. The Penguins were buried in the first period and even in the third. The Penguins grinders came through, and goalie Tristan Jarry stole two more points.
“We just weren’t good enough (in the first period). We were getting beat to pucks, and we weren’t playing with detail,” Rust said. “They were hungrier than we were, but obviously, Tristan was unbelievable for us.”
The game changed in the second period, and the Penguins adjusted to Calgary’s tactical advantage. (Subscribe here as we break down Calgary’s systematic play and the Penguins adjustments).