Last week’s Penguins team was going through a rough spot.
In the past 10 games, Pittsburgh has won only five.
Despite the poor record, Matt Murray ranks among top goaltenders as far as wins. But it takes more than goaltending to bring home wins.
Their scoring has gotten better, but falling behind by multiple scores in games and building their way out isn’t a recipe for success. Out of the past five games, two went to overtime, and another went to a shootout.
The Penguins came back after trailing to force extra minutes to be successful against the Blackhawks and Islanders.
After crushing the embarrassing losing streak to the Blackhawks, the Pens walked with a little more swagger. Even Evgeni Malkin was feeling the confidence, especially walking into New York, where the Penguins are undefeated when facing off against goaltender Henrik Lunqvist.
Pittsburgh took on the Rangers in Madison Square Garden, but the coaching staff felt it was up to the backup goalie, Alexander Georgiev, to get between the pipes.
His final save percentage was .938, letting in only two of 32 shots. New York walked away with the win, 3–2 in overtime.
The Rangers scored first with Kaapo Kakko and Adam Fox in the first. Then, as the Penguins’ pattern continued, they tied the game in the second period, the two goals coming from Justin Shultz and Jared McCann, who also brought an end to their drought while on the power play.
But Kakko was having himself a night and scored the overtime goal for the Rangers.
The road trip continued against New Jersey and didn’t start off on the right foot for Pittsburgh.
The Devils took an early lead. A puck bounced up off a Devils player, then off of his helmet and into the net. Then, with five seconds left in the second period, New Jersey scored.
Murray got the original save with his glove hand but just missed the puck with his stick as it slid in front of an open right side. Blake Coleman rushed in for the rebound to make it 2–0 Devils, though the Pens don’t get shut out.
Jack Johnson tallied his first goal of the season, going top cheddar on MacKenzie Blackwood. That was the lone goal scored by the Pens, but only the first game played of a back-to-back. Pittsburgh was looking for a rebound game.
Fortunately, they faced off against the Maple Leafs at home and got Toronto coming off a four-game losing streak.
Tristan Jarry got the nod for the net. Throughout five games played this season, Jarry has a save percentage of .938, allowing 1.99 goals per game.
They got an early chance for a power play: Jake Guentzel capitalized off a second rebound from Galchenyuk. Then with a three-on-three, the Pens into Toronto’s zone, Bryan Rust carried it past the blue line and got a pass centered to Malkin. Geno snaped a shot top glove, making it 2–0 Pens at the end of the second.
Less than a minute into the second, Dominik Kahun got a puck in the net, shooting from the top right circle, and with a screen from Rust to make it 3–0.
Tanev then carried the puck in, quick pass center, and Kahun scored again. It originally called no goal due to goaltender interference. But after a challenge from head coach Mike Sullivan, the Pens got the goal. After review, Tanev was accidently tripped by Maple Leafs defensemen Jake Muzzin, 4–0 Pens.
Early in the second, Rust rushed across the blue line, then to Kahun, across to McCann and whipped it past Kaskisuo to make it 5–0.
Around five minutes left in the second, Jason Spezza kept from the Maple Leafs being shutout, but Pittsburgh wasn’t finished scoring yet. After Toronto went on a power play, there was some sloppy puck management in the Penguin’s zone.
Teddy Blueger and Rust turned it into a two-on-one rushing into Toronto’s zone. The goalie got sucked out to block the shot from Blue, but he got a pass to Rust and tallied the final goal of the game. The Penguins got the win at home, 6–1.
After the Pens won against the Maple Leafs in Pittsburgh, general manager Jim Rutherford was headed Toronto for the 2019 Hall of Fame inductees’ ceremony. Rutherford was a part of four teams during his career as a goaltender.
He began his staff position with the Hartford Whalers in 1994. The team relocated and became the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997. He has won three Stanley Cups through his career, first in 2006 with the Hurricanes, then twice with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016, then 2017. He was inducted under the builder category for his work done with the ‘Canes and, since after the 2013–14 season, the Pens.