Bryan Rust had a hat trick, Phil Kessell and Evgeni Malkin had three-point games and the #Penguins stormed back from a 4-2 deficit to beat the Senators 8-5.
Ottawa’s blue line may not want to participate in tomorrow’s film session.
In a game that saw a combined total of 80 shots on target, resulting in a total of 13 goals, it was Pittsburgh (16-7-3, 35 pts) who outlasted the Senators (15-9-2, 32 pts) 8-5 in the abrupt offensive clinic that broke out at PPG Paints Arena Monday night.
Both teams scored a combined five goals in the 2nd period, with the Penguins finding the net the final three times erasing a 4-2 deficit, and giving them the one-goal advantage that they would not lose.
Forward Bryan Rust helped assure the victory posting his first career hat trick, scoring the first and last two goals of the game.
The Penguins swept their three game home stand, posting a whopping 16 combined goals in that span.
Monday night marked the second straight game where the Penguins came back from at least a two goal deficit to win.
“I think this group has certainly provided enough evidence that they are capable of climbing back into games whatever the score is. I love our resilience. Nobody gets discouraged,” said coach Mike Sullivan. “By no means is it a perfect game out there, but we don’t let it affect our play going forward. Things don’t go your way out there, but it is how you take it on that determines your success. This group has grown in ability and shown and provided enough evidence that we have the firepower, the talent level and the capability to win games. There is a belief that regardless of what the score is we can win the game.”
Feeding from the resilience factor Sullivan mentioned, Matt Cullen (6) started the 2nd period rally, when during a penalty kill midway through, caught a pass off the boards from Rust on the Penguins end, than out-raced two Ottawa defenders to score on the breakaway at the other end for the short-handed finish.
The goal marked just the second shorty scored by the Penguins this season.
Phil Kessel (9) kept the pot boiling firing a rocket from close to the blue line just past the shoulder of goalie Craig Anderson, then 24 seconds later was followed by a Justin Schultz (3) slapper off a crisp centering pass from Evgeni Malkin, which gave the Pens the advantage.
Malkin added the icing on the cake just one minute into the 3rd period, scoring on what was no doubt his signature goal of the season, outclassing two Ottawa defenders, slicing his way through the traffic, reuniting with the puck right at the crease and finding the back of the net for his 10th of the season.
The brutalized Ottawa netminder surrendered 7 goals on 43 shots on goal by the Penguins.
No silver linings were found on the other side of the ice, as Marc-Andre Fleury, who made his third straight start of the season, was pulled with just under 13 minutes left in the period after surrendering his fourth goal of the night, a vicious top-shelf wrister off the stick of Matt Hoffman (9) on a power play that gave the Senators a 4-2 lead.
Matt Murray’s relief appearance went unscathed until a Dion Phaneuf (3) goal on a power play with four minutes expired in the 3rd period brought the Senators back to within one. It was the lone goal Murray surrendered against a total of 18 shots in 32:52 of ice time.
“It was a very offensive game, and it felt a little weird just jumping into it,” said Murray. “Obviously you want to slow them down, and it’s tough when you are on the penalty kill as much as we were.”
The Penguins managed to survive a barrage of infractions, and a brutal three power play goals scored against them, yet failing to score on the power play themselves, going 0 for 4.
In total there were 11 penalties between both teams.
“I do think that the group as a whole lacks a little confidence right now,” said Sullivan of the PK unit. “We virtually have the same personnel that we’ve had for a while now with the same scheme. Sometimes when you start squeezing your stick and try a little too hard you can almost exacerbate the issue. We know we have good penalty killers and we will work on some things and try some tweaks. They can be a very good penalty kill when they are on the ice and that is what we need to work on.”
For their struggles on the penalty kill, the Penguins were nearly impeccable on the offensive end, getting goals from six different players including Sidney Crosby, who tapped the back of the net midway through the 1st period, scoring his league-leading 17th goal of the season.
Rusty Ole’ Hatty
With Kessel, Malkin and even Justin Schultz, who scored his 3rd of the season all finding the net, it was Rust who surprised all with his magical hat trick.
“Anytime you score that many goals I think you give up more chances,” said Rust about the explosion of offense Monday night. “I did my best to get open and find the best shot to keep up and keep us ahead.”
The forward scored goals 4, 5 and 6 earning the hats of the Pittsburgh faithful. Rust earned the hat trick with just over two minutes left in the game, corralling a deflected puck and firing one in on the empty net.
No doubt the most exciting play in the hockey, the never-topped, electrifying penalty shot showed its face for the Pens with seven minutes left in the 3rd period, when Rust was pulled down during a breakaway and was awarded the free shot. Rust capitalized on the opportunity working a filthy deke from right to left working the puck past Anderson’s blocker, and giving Pittsburgh its insurance goal. The Ottawa goalie was then yanked for backup Mike Condon after the play.
“That was as hard as my heart was racing all game,” said Rust about the shot. “That was kind of my go to move and I just kind of let it go.”
After the Spread
The Penguins came in as a big -240 favorite, marking the third time during the three-game stand one would have had to pay double the money just to get single action on the home team.
The Pens and Sens crushed the over/under 5.5 goals posting a total of 13. This marks the 8th consecutive game the Penguins have gone over this season, which leads all teams.
The Penguins will look to say scalding hot on the road as they travel to take on the Florida Panthers in on Thurs, Dec. 8. Puck drop is set for 8:30.