Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box of the Penguins' 3-2 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
1. GOALIE BATTLE
Jonathan Quick and Marc-Andre Fleury are two of the best goaltenders in the league, and tonight they proved why. They were both tremendous all night, each facing at least 40 shots and allowing just two goals each during regulation and overtime. Fleury had to be sharp early, as Los Angeles was the better team in the first period and generated more chances. They had a number of odd-man rushes – including three 2-on-1 shorthanded breaks during Pittsburgh’s first power play – that Fleury had to come up with huge saves on. As the momentum tilted the other way in the second, it was Quick’s turn to star and he did just that. It was back-and-forth during the final 20-plus minutes, and both men were strong as their teams pushed for that extra point.
2. BATTLING BACK
After a tremendous second period from the Pens, the Kings regained their lead just 34 seconds into the third – which could have deflated Pittsburgh, considering that a team like Los Angeles is not easy to come back against. They’re a structured team that has the NHL’s No. 2 defense backstopped by a stud netminder. Instead, the Pens stuck with it, continued to push offensively while playing strong defense and were able to tie it up late with the extra attacker. Evgeni Malkin was a beast during those last few minutes of regulation, and he absolutely deserved to get the equalizer. He continued to dominate during the overtime period, which was absolutely fantastic in terms of back-and-forth action. I couldn’t keep up with the scoring chances from both teams. This was an incredibly even game, and it’s too bad it couldn’t end in a tie.
3. MISSED CHANCES
The Pens had so many scoring chances in this game, but at the end of the day, they just didn’t bury them – and in a tight game like this, those missed opportunities are especially glaring. The one that stands out to me is when Sidney Crosby set up Phil Kessel for a tap-in on the power play during the second period. All Kessel had to do was direct the puck into the open net. But somehow, it hit the post. Even he couldn’t believe it, as he raised his arms thinking it had gone in. If it had, this could have been a different game.