|@ Penguins (3-3-0)||1||0||1||1||3|
In the first five minutes of the game, puck possession was fairly split between the Penguins and the Panthers. Both teams each had a few good looks but most of these shots were blocked before they could even hit the net. The Penguins and the Panthers both looked good defensively through the first half of the period. Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel had the best shots through the first half of the period for the Penguins and Jaromir Jagr had a few good shots for the Panthers. With 9:53 left in the period, Nick Bjugstad was sent to the box on a hooking call and the Panthers went on the penalty kill. From this point on, the scale tipped in favor of the Penguins. Crosby, being Crosby, was able to capitalize on a slapper after a cross-ice pass from Evgeni Malkin. This was Crosby’s first point of the season, but it certainly won’t be his last. Kris Letang got the secondary assist on the goal. After this goal, it was difficult for the Panthers to regain momentum and possession. Crosby was on fire for the rest of the period, but Luongo wouldn’t let another puck in. After one Crosby shot in particular, Dave Bolland was called for tripping and the Panthers went on the penalty kill once again with just less than 5 minutes left in the period. However, the Panthers were luckier on this one than they were on the last and they were able to kill the penalty. Luongo was relied upon in these last few minutes to keep the Penguins’ lead at one goal after Malkin had a series of great opportunities. At the end of the period, the Penguins led the Panthers 1-0. The Panthers had 5 shots on goal and the Penguins had 16.
Roberto Luongo carried the Panthers through the first five minutes of the second period and seemed to be the only player on the team who was actually doing anything to prevent a Penguins win. In fact, the whole first half of the period was a lot of the same. The Penguins dominated and Luongo had to make a lot of saves to compensate. Both teams were able to get a good amount of shots off but none of them caused a huge problem for either goaltender. Finally, with 3:36 left in the period, something happened. Jaromir Jagr drew a hooking penalty on Nick Bonino and the Panthers got their first power play of the game. During the power play, Reilly Smith was hit hard into the boards and went to the locker room, clearly in pain, but there was no call. Thankfully, he quickly returned back to the bench. You would think that this power play would be the Panthers’ opportunity to gain some momentum but the Penguins had more possession time on their penalty kill than the Panthers did with the man advantage. In any event, the score remained the same after this fairly uninteresting period. The Panthers picked up speed in the shots on goal department and ended with 21, while the Penguins had 28.
At only two minutes into the third period, the Panthers were already looking better than they had been before in this game. Brian Campbell launched the puck to the net but after much discussion over whether the puck hit Reilly Smith’s high stick or not, the refs decided that it did and the Panthers did not score. The initial call was for a no goal and then the video review was deemed inconclusive, which called for quite the controversy. Then, in true Panthers fashion, a bad situation was made worse and Phil Kessel scored to give the Penguins a two goal advantage. The Panthers headed on the power play after Sergei Plotnikov was penalized on a hooking call, but the Cats could not capitalize. Luckily, the Panthers did not remain scoreless the whole game. With 8:56 left in the game, Quinton Howden spun around and scored his first goal of the season on the rebound. The goal was assisted by Connor Brickley and Erik Gudbranson. Just over a minute later, the Penguins thought they had yet another goal but the refs waived it off after review. That waived off goal must have given the Panthers the motivation to tie the game up because Derek MacKenzie took the fourth line grind to a whole new level and scored a goal, assisted by Connor Brickley and Quinton Howden. Now, this is the Panthers team we know and love. With just 24.7 seconds left in the period, Jonathan Huberdeau was sent to the sin bin on a brutal cross checking call that would carry into overtime. At the end of the period, the score was tied 2-2 but the Penguins edged out the Panthers in shots on goal 33 to 32.
Well, this didn’t last long. Evgeni Malkin scored on the power play and won the game, but the Panthers still got a point. Coach Gallant tried challenging that the puck was offsides prior to the Penguins scoring the game-winning goal, but the call on the ice stood.
The whole fourth line was on fire tonight. Derek MacKenzie scored the game-tying goal and it was assisted by Connor Brickley and Quinton Howden, who both also played active roles in the win. Quinton Howden scored the first goal and Brickley assisted that goal too. Jaromir Jagr played well again and generated some offense, even though he did not score. Brian Campbell was also a strong force on the ice tonight, defensively and offensively. Finally, Luongo played extremely well again and without him, the Panthers would not have even made it to overtime.
On Thursday, October 22nd, the Panthers will be taking on the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago at 8:30 pm. Stay tuned for the COTP preview and recap of that game.