Things started out so well for the Pens. Crosby scored the first two goals of the game. Ondrej Pavelec was still in net. It looked liked an easy W.
Only problem was the Penguins couldn't do anything for the next 40+ minutes after Crosby's second goal. Winnipeg adjusted to the Pens' style and got them rattled. They waited for the Pens to make some mistakes, and they capitalized. Evander Kane played like a final boss on a Sega Genesis game for most of the night.
It is hard to get a feel for what is appropriate to think. Four games is still too small of a sampling size to start making outlandish statements.
In Ottawa Sunday afternoon. Recap after the jump...
Winnipeg was in a frenzy all night long. Great atmosphere.
Old man rage.
All jammed up for his first game in Winnipeg, Crosby rose to the occasion like he usually does. He had a great chance early to score on some slap shot, but Pavelec made the save.
We saw our first glimpse of Ben Lovejoy two minutes in. Sadly, he was getting wrecked by Evander Kane.
In other whipping-boy news, Eric Tangradi took two shifts and committed two turnovers.
Things were jobbing along, and then Crosby threw one to the net and it went in.
Shortly thereafter. Crosby came flying out of the zone. He shifted toward the middle and trickled one through Pavelec's five-hole on the backhand.
Pavelec started to take his equipment off after that goal. Not even joking.
But things shifted ;ate in the period. Matt Cooke had some uncharacteristic turnover deep in his zone. Vokoun, who played a good first, stopped it, but it was a sign of things to come.
Underrated moment of the first was Brandon Sutter being unable to convert on an empty net after Pavelec served up a juicy rebound.
Cooke picked up where he left off, turning over a puck leaving the zone. Big Buff started the play with a sweet pass. Puck ended up on Kane's stick, and he buried it.
Game picked up after that.
Malkin had a ton of chances, and Pavlec robbed him every time. Malkin has had it rough the last few games. Have to wonder if not having a set third linemate and still getting used to the smaller ice surface is causing some problems.
Great pace to the game. Pens kept turning the puck over in their own zone for some reason, which led us to believe Winnipeg changed something in their game plan.
"Gameplan change?" he said. "You can do that?"
Pens got a PP. TK's speed drew a hook. PP was having trouble setting up, then Malkin's feels got in the way and he hooked somebody. On the Jets' PP, Big Papa Buff puts one home.
Then the Pens did it again in Turnover Town. Ben Lovejoy, everyone. Andrew Ladd finishes it.
A Crosby turnover led to another Jets chance. Huge save by Vokoun on a rebound, flashing the glove.
Refs were letting them play. But the Pens were a bit sloppy.
Alarming stat alert: Pens with 1 takeaway the entire game. Jets had 10. Big-time coaching move by Claude Noel.
Jets got a PP later on a high stick. The Pens killed it.
Then the game basically went into pyscho mode. Amazing action back and forth. Last season, Brent Johnson gives up a backbreaking goal in that stretch. That long stretch of play was 8 minutes and 48 seconds. Mike Lange confirmed that two commercial breaks were missed.
The Pens had great entry into the Jets zone all night but had hardly anything to show for it in the third period. It still felt like the Pens would tie it when Vokoun went off for the extra attacker. Letang can't handle a Niskanen pass, and the Jets go back down the other way and bury it.
-- No Despres. Interesting. Some people are saying he is possible trade bait. But the Pens D is already lacking some big-time depth at the NHL level. Biggest storyline this season is going to be solidifying that bottom D pairing.
-- Big Buff is legit.
Woof. Malkin had 18 minutes? At least get him on the ice for 20 minutes.
-- TK wasn't bad on the second line. But here is the thing. Why take the guy out of his role on the third line? All joking aside, TK can play on the third line. He isn't a top six guy in our opinion. Whatever. He is much better than the Tangradi Hendrix Experience, though.
-- Are we to assume Dustin Jeffrey has no place on this team?
-- 50/50 in Winnpeg last night. The take was 39K. Jesus.
-- Not even being a dick, but Winnipeg got the matchup they wanted on that game-winning goal.
So far this season, their most productive line has been Antropov-Ladd-Little.
Look at the frequency at which Ben Lovejoy was out there against them:
Andrew Ladd scoring the eventual game-winner.
Here is what happened. James Neal flubs on a pass to Malkin. Engo, for whatever reason, started up the ice and was out of position. Then Lovejoy made the final mistake. He did everything right until he left Ladd.
We hate to keep harping on the bottom pair, and really this is more on Neal, but still needed some big-time D there. Didn't get it.