The Pittsburgh Penguins lost their first game in regulation to a Western Conference team in their last 16 contests (10-1-5) with a 4-1 setback to the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night at CONSOL Energy Center.
Pavel Datsyuk scored a goal and an assist, Dan Cleary had two goals and goaltender Jimmy Howard made 25 saves for Detroit.
Despite the final, the game was much tighter that score would indicate. The Red Wings held a slim 2-1 lead with under 5 minutes remaining in the third period. Detroit would score and add an empty-netter for the 4-1 win.
"We talk about that amongst our team all year long, it’s always going to come down to one play," head coach Dan Bylsma said. "It’s always going to be one play, and how we execute and how we play. The details are extremely important to being able to play in that context. The next play, the wall play, getting the detail in our game is important. It essentially comes down to one or two details one way. When you have two good teams in a hockey game it’s going to be that tight. Every detail and every play’s important."
The contest reminded me of Game 1 of a playoff series. Both teams used the first period as a “feeling out” process, trying to lure their opponent into breaking their game plan.
“Both teams tonight I think didn’t make many mistakes,” defenseman Matt Niskanen
said. “The game was pretty sound. Position-wise, both teams took care of the puck.”
"I thought a lot of what we saw was good hockey on both sides," head coach Dan Bylsma said. "There wasn’t a lot out there for chances to score goals."
In the opening 19:50 minutes of the first period, both teams were making the smart, simple plays. Both teams executed their systems well and a tight game ensued. As a result the first period provided little dramatic flare – there were no glaring mistakes, quality scoring chances or odd-man rushes.
Well, there weren’t any until the final 10 seconds that is.
The Red Wings were circling in the Pens zone. A shot from the near circle was blocked by defenseman Brooks Orpik
, starting a series that would lead to the game’s opening goal.
Forward James Neal
found the blocked puck and snapped a billiard-style pass off the boards to a sprinting Evegni Malkin up ice on the near side. Malkin collected the puck in the neutral zone with Chris Kunitz
steaming down the far side for a 2-on-1.
Malkin held the puck before ripping a shot low on the blocker side of Howard that hit the netting to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead with 4.5 seconds left.
It’s nothing new for the goal post to steal a goal from a player. But Malkin was robbed not once, but twice by the red-colored metal.
“I had (nine) shots and a couple posts, but I tried,” Malkin said. “It’s bad luck. Two posts is very bad luck.”
One the first instance, Malkin ripped a shot from the far circle that squeezed through Howard and trickled through the crease and off the post. Malkin dove and swatted at the rebound, but Howard reached back with his goal stick to make the save.
On the second instance, Malkin came streaking down the near side and whipped a shot low and blocker side (same shot as his goal). The puck once again eluded Howard, but this time it twanged off the post.
“I thought ‘Geno’ had a couple chances to score and give us a lead and put us back into the hockey game,” forward Steve Sullivan
said. “That’ the way it is. Sometimes you get bounces, sometimes you don’t.”
Forward Craig Adams
played in his 700th career NHL game.
Author: Sam Kasan