Thoughts, musings and observations from the Penguins’ 4-3 win against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.
* This game was the epitome of gutting out a win. Pittsburgh was under siege for the much of the game and the disparity in talent on the ice was apparent. With the Penguins absurd amount of injuries, they weren’t going to out-skill or out-talent the Golden Knights. To win, they were going to have to outbattle and outcompete Vegas. And that’s exactly what they did.
Pittsburgh relied on some opportunistic goals to jump out to a 3-0 lead, but the Knights really took over in the second period. Vegas had a 25-12 shot advantage after two periods of play, but the Penguins had a 3-2 edge in goals.
The next goal would prove to be critical, and the Penguins got it. Brandon Tanev scored two minutes into the third period. From there, the Penguins did everything they could just to hold on as Vegas turned the pressure up.
Thanks to some nice goaltending by Tristan Jarry, the Penguins managed to somehow, someway find a way to pull out the victory despite being outshot 35-16. It wasn’t pretty, but it counts.
* The star of the evening, and the recently named All-Star, was Jarry. He made a couple saves early in the game that allowed the Penguins to take a 2-0 lead. He made key saves on the penalty kill late in the first period to allow his team to get out to a 3-0 lead. Those key saves allowed Pittsburgh to create a cushion, which was much needed as the game came down to the wire.
Jarry’s stop on Alex Tuch in the final minute of the game was what allowed the Penguins to hold on – by the skin of their teeth – for the win. It was another solid effort from the young netminder.
* I singled out Tanev’s play against Montreal, and he was again a major factor in tonight’s game against Vegas. No one on the ice can match his speed, and that was on full display on his game-winning goal.
All-Star Kris Letang made a great read and hit Tanev with a stretch pass from his own zone. Tanev caught the puck at the blue line, flew down the boards and then got inside leverage on Vegas’ Nicolas Hague. Tanev cut to the net and then showed some hand skills. He pulled the puck around goalie Marc-Andre Fleury’s poke check and then found just enough space between the pad and post to slip the puck in.
Tanev was also great on a critical penalty kill in the final three minutes of regulation to help preserve the win. He blocked a shot and, again, used his speed to win a loose puck and clear.
* The Penguins were the beneficiaries of a few breaks in the game. In the first period the officials blew the whistle for an icing play that probably should have been negated. As a result, a face off was held in the Vegas zone.
Pittsburgh won the faceoff, Letang got the puck to Jack Johnson for a shot. Patric Hornqvist swooped in to snatch the rebound and deposit it in the net to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead.
Late in the third period, the Penguins were desperately trying to kill off a penalty while holding a 4-3 lead. The puck went near the blue line and the linesman blew the whistle for offside, but the puck had never left the zone.
Sometimes you get the breaks and sometimes the breaks go against you. Tonight, the Penguins got the breaks and made the most of it.
* A final congratulations to Sullivan, who picked up his 200th-career win behind the bench for the Penguins. He became just the third coach in team history to hit the 200 mark.