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3 Impressions: Hawks 3, Pens 2 (SO)

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

Pens assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald gives his three impressions from the management booth of the Penguins’ 3-2 shootout loss to Chicago.

1. We played with resiliency. We are a resilient team. There was no quit. We got better as the game went on.
2. Everybody pulled their weight, whether it was a line checking against their top line or guys creating scoring chances. Our bottom two lines, depth scoring, came through with those two goals.
3. I was really impressed with David Perron’s game. He was strong on pucks, vision, scoring chances. A complete game.

Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box.

1. The Penguins may have lost their last two games in overtime and a shootout, but they shouldn’t go into the All-Star break hanging their heads after the way they played on Tuesday and Wednesday. After a gutsy effort in Philadelphia, the Penguins followed that up with a terrific overall game against Chicago tonight despite being shorthanded. Evgeni Malkin was a late scratch and Kris Letang and Simon Despres were both ruled out. But while the Pens were thin on the back end, their blueliners – especially young guys Derrick Pouliot and Scott Harrington – had big games. Pittsburgh’s first period wasn’t the greatest, but they were able to recover from a 2-0 deficit (more on that in the next paragraph) and left it all out on the ice the rest of the game. The third period and overtime especially felt like a perfect embodiment of the way games between these two teams should be played. It was just a beautiful display of hockey. There were barely any whistles with how the game was flowing. Both teams created glorious chances, the goaltenders were coming up with fantastic saves at both ends – definitely something to build off of.

2. There were a lot of big names featured in this game, with seven of the players heading to Columbus this weekend for the All-Star Game. But it was the depth guys who shined for the Penguins. For a third straight game the Pens were down early, but their third and fourth lines stepped up and chipped in a pair of huge goals in the second to get them back in it and even the score heading into the third. I especially liked the tying goal, because as soon as Harrington wound up and took a shot from the point, Mark Arcobello, Marcel Goc, and Steve Downie immediately crashed the net. They caused a scrum, had Crawford scrambling, and capitalized when Downie found the loose puck. It was fantastic to see those guys rewarded for the grinding they do every game, especially in such a marquee matchup.

3. That being said, the Pens’ first line wasn’t without its chances. David Perron was especially snakebitten tonight, as he had an absolutely glorious chance in the third to give Pittsburgh the lead and wasn’t able to bury it. Someone on Twitter called it the “nicest goal I’ve ever seen not scored,” and that description fits perfectly. Perron deked through two defenders, had Corey Crawford down and out but just couldn’t get it into the open net. Then in the shootout, he had Crawford out of position again but hit the post. It definitely hurts that he couldn’t put either of those in, but the positive is that the chances are there. They’ll find their way in soon enough.

“It’s frustrating. I had the game on my stick a couple times there, one in regulation, I’ve got to put that one away,” Perron said. “Eight times out of 10 I probably put that in. Same in the shootout. I had some room there. Hit the post. Tonight we had so many chances. It’s one of those games as a line you feel you could have four or five goals. Tonight with zero, other nights it will be all five of them. We just have to keep doing the same things and they’re going to go in.”

Head coach Mike Johnston provided an update on Evgeni Malkin:

“You saw he got injured in the game last night. Left and met with the trainers. I was glad last night he came back in the game. I really thought he showed a lot of battle coming back. Today it was a matter of just seeing if he could play and he couldn’t. He was unable to play. Met with the doctors, met with the trainers. Tried it in warmups just to see and it just wasn’t there, so he left warmups and he wasn’t available. We actually thought that he might be. We were hoping that it would settle down today, but it didn’t.”

Johnston was asked whether Malkin would still be able to participate in the All-Star Game this weekend. "'Geno' has met with our doctors," Johnston said. "I was told in warmups that he couldn't play. So that's the last time I saw him and (was told that) he would be meeting with our doctors probably during the game. It'll be their decision as a group and with management sort of where he's at, and we'll figure that out."

Johnston had no additional update on Letang, who left last night’s game against Philadelphia in the first period after getting boarded from behind by Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo, who was given a five-minute major and game misconduct.

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