The Pittsburgh Penguins have to be nearly perfect to win with their injury-ravaged roster. Saturday night, they were the better team for 40 minutes but were far from perfect. The Penguins were short on legs, short on horses, and short on opportunity Saturday night. Their puck possession was not sustained pressure but rather a halting string of singular chances. Vancouver’s strategy was to push the weary Penguins and it worked, as Vancouver beat the Penguins at Rogers Arena, 4-1.
Head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t a happy camper, but it had less to do with the Penguins stumble in the first period, and more to do with the potential refereeing gaffe.
Penguins winger Dominik Simon was given a four-minute high-sticking penalty at 12:24 of the first period. However, replays appeared to conclusively show Vancouver defenseman Troy Stecher picked Simon’s stick and lifted it under Adam Gaudette’s shield. Officials used a video review and upheld the call and Sullivan made numerous references to it from the bench throughout the game.
The double minor led to the 5v3 and the following 5v3 when Brandon Tanev then Jack Johnson took unquestioned penalties and Vancouver scored a pair of goals. To that point, neither team had a shot on goal. No, seriously, there were no shots in the first 12 minutes of the game.
Vancouver did a few things which disrupted the Penguins attack. You don’t think they had only 14 shots because they were lazy, do you?