It appears that the Penguins’ inability to score goals is catching up with them.
Certainly scoring zero goals is not a recipe for success.
The Devils have quietly been playing good hockey this season. They passed the Penguins in the standings with this win.
Former Penguins GM Ray Shero and former Wilkes-Barre coach John Hynes both went to the Devils in the offseason. The Devils are certainly a different team compared to familiar neutral zone trap and Martin Brodeur combination of years past, but they’re still a pain to play against. Watching this game certainly was painful.
Since this was the second of back-to-back games, Zatkoff started in goal. He actually played well for large stretches of the game, but his defense hung him out to dry several times and he ended up facing 37 shots. The Penguins, meanwhile, mustered only 21.
Bobby Farnham started the game against the Pens’ third line. Letang fell down and Stephen Gionta nearly scored as a result, but he fanned on the shot.
Zatkoff made a nice early save against Andy Greene to keep it knotted at 0.
Stephen Gionta went off for holding Eric Fehr in the offensive zone. Pretty dumb penalty.
The Penguins sent out Crosby, Bennett, Kunitz, Bonino, and Letang for the first PP unit. The unit didn’t have a lot a lot of chemistry, based on the minute they were on the ice, but props to the coaching staff for mixing it up.
The second PP line had Malkin, Kessel, Perron and Hornqvist, which looked a bit better. Malkin hit Hornqvist with a hard shot and Hornqvist nearly batted it out of the air into the net. The shot actually hit Hornqvist in the chest and sent him to the locker room, so it’s pretty amazing he had the presence of mind to try to knock the puck in before he went to the bench.
On his first shift after returning from the locker room, Hornqivst collected the puck off the end boards and nearly banked the puck off Corey Schneider’s pad. Schneider with a good stop.
Josefson got taken down at center ice and the Jersey fans wanted a penalty, but nothing was called. Seconds later, Tlusty hit Scuderi hard in the corner and got called for boarding. Looked like Tlusty hit Scuderi’s shoulder, but the Pens were back on the PP. The Devils’ bench was pissed about the turn of events.
Both Penguins powerplay units were hot garbage. Kessel turned the puck over at the blue line, forcing Zatkoff to shut down a Josefson breakaway.
As the powerplay ended, Scuderi blocked a pass and proceeded to accidentally drag the puck into the crease with him. Easy finish on the open net for David Schlemko. The net was dislodged just as the puck went into the goal, but the refs confirmed it on replay. Devils with the first goal of the game despite the Penguins having two early powerplays.
Kessel took a massive one-timer in the waning minutes. Schneider with the save.
Bobby Farnham skated into the Pittsburgh zone chasing a loose puck and slashed Zatkoff. Letang responded quickly, getting in Farnham’s face. Both players took penalties.
Malkin took a really bad offensive zone penalty, tripping Schlemko as he emerged from behind his own net.
During the penalty, Crosby had a nice two-on-one shorthanded chance with Dupuis, but Schneider was able to make the save. The momentum immediately went the other way as a pass from Tootoo found its way to Cammalleri alone in front of Zatkoff. Cammalleri made no mistake, beating Zatkoff on a pretty move.
Two former Penguins added the nails in the coffin. With Adam Henrique in the crease, Farnham took a shot, collected his rebound, skated around behind the net and banked a bad angle backhand off Zatkoff’s back.
Kind of hurts when a player the Penguins released earlier in the season is looking like a world-beater for a divisional rival.
Zatkoff made a kick save on Nick Palmieri and Letang lost his mind, attacking Sergey Kalinin. Kalinin and Letang both took roughing penalties, but Letang got an additional two minutes.
Cammalleri turned Lovejoy inside out on the way into the Penguins’ zone and passed across to Stempniak for an absurdly easy goal. Embarrassing shift for Lovejoy and Maatta.