The night began with Wild welcoming back Jason Zucker Thursday night for the first time as a visitor, as the Penguins simultaneously welcomed Zucker back into the squad after a lengthy injury absence. Unfortunately, there was also another injury exit for Jason Zucker to follow after a frightening leg injury that occurred in the second half.
Prior to that unfortunate part, Pittsburgh jumped to the lead early on at the 66-second mark of the game. New possession Ricard Raquel scored his first of two goals last night, with a John Marino shot.
Fun fact: Jason Zucker is back under two minutes and already has a helping hand.
Rickard Raquel counts his second goal as a member of the Penguins. pic.twitter.com/UVrpMKJii8
– Pittsburgh penguins April 1, 2022
Prior to that, there was a bit of a op show, zebras introducing themselves and setting up an awful level of penalties. Send the pens to the box three times in the first inning, and swing the other way with three penalty kicks per second.
Matt Domba was getting Wilde on the board in one of their powerful plays, barely getting the puck over the line in a stampede before Chris Letang managed to save his goalkeeper.
The pens will match up in a power game of their own early in the second half to reclaim the lead. Chris Letang gets his 500th professional assist when he hits the ball and is stopped by Cam Talbot. But the recoil quickly snaps back to Jake Guentzel, who returns just as quickly to the dispatcher after Talbot. 1-2 Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh extended to a 3-1 lead in the sequence that injured Zucker. Sidney Crosby jumps on the ice with buddies Evgeny Malkin because Malkin takes a big, clean blow from Domba that blows some wind out of his sails. Crosby collects a puck and lunges over the ice to meet him 2 on 1 with Raquel. Jonas Prudden is a great defensive guy but looks silly in this guy who’s snarling across the ice and unable to stop Crosby’s pass. Raquel lifts the puck on Talbot which is a 3-1 match.
Wild thinks they’ve recovered one, but video coaches in Pittsburgh looking at the eagle note that it’s a bit offside when rushing into the area and a challenge is set. The target pulls rather quickly.
The hockey gods shouldn’t agree, because Minnesota scores in the next shift. It’s former Penguin Freddy Gaudreau who found a soft spot in the hole and fired the puck past Casey DeSmith to bring Wild back to 3-2, in reals this time.
Minnesota will tie the game early in the third. Great play by Ryan Hartmann to pass the ball from behind the net to himself and then center it for Kirill Kaprizov. Teddy Blueger can’t get there in time, and yes, that will often be a goal. 3-3 game with 18:58 to go.
The third ends with no more scoring to necessitate overtime. Evgeni Malkin would finish the match on a third attempt, finally hitting the puck on Talbot to end the match and give Pittsburgh the win.
- You must feel totally frustrated for Jason Zucker to work so hard to come back and then suffer what looked like a bad injury. The legs shouldn’t be bent the way he did, as Kevin pushed Fiala into the boards from behind. Ironically, Fiala broke his femur bone upon entering the planks a few years ago.
- The addition of Rakell seems to look better throughout the game. A highly skilled player and offensive dynamo wing type it seems the pens always need an extra man like that. Hell, what team does?
- Fortunately, once Malkin had a minute to shake off the swipe he absorbed, he was able to carry on normally. He would’ve gone from bad to worse had he been injured within seconds of Zucker’s fall as well.
- It’s been a draining game for Minnesota too, with John Merrill, Matthew Boldy and Marcos Foligno all wasting time. The bad news for Pens is that Boldy is out for much of the game, and the response to fill his place was to switch Kaprizov.
- He really didn’t like DeSmith’s recoil control in this game. It was very shaky, almost all the way through at times. If the disc didn’t hit him, he wouldn’t have many answers or seemed to have felt comfortable and settled into this game. Simply locating the pucks or being able to freeze them seemed like a bridge too far for most of the game. And the Out To stop or get rid of a puck disc from rebounding? Forget about it.
- Perhaps Zucker’s injury means there is no more Rodriguez-Carter-Capanen streak, and perhaps that’s a good thing for all sides. Rodriguez didn’t have a good game, but he was at least noticeable at times, although going into the penalty area after a turnover was not a good way to stand out for his memorable play. Kapanin was almost invisible without any attempts to shoot. In fact, like Bob Grove pointedKapanen has only one shot now in his last five games (and scored against Detroit). After scoring a hat-trick against Minnesota in November, it’s a shame seeing them again didn’t do much to bring Cabanen back to life.
- But then again, these guys at least got semi-regular fits. Danton Heinen only took six bouts, playing 4:58. Zucker’s injury caused a constant shift in the squad and Heinen was able to be on the side for the most part in this match.
- After a few quiet matches on his own, Jake Guentzel was once again one of the best players on the ice once again. He scored in strong play, he almost scored on redirect From the front was the separation with five minutes remaining. It seems like coming home to Minnesota I’m doing pretty well.
- Perhaps the OT result is more impressive than it appears on the surface. Minnesota were 7-0 in overtime this season before No. 71 appropriately sent them to 7-1. Prior to beating the Flyers 4-1, all of their previous three matches went into the overtime session and Wild won the OT. Pens improve to 5-3 in games scheduled for overtime.
- An unforgettable way for owners to tie Jaromir Jäger to the 78 winners of the match with the pens. That wasn’t a cheesy goal to make it 4-1 in the middle of the game and then the other team scored a few points, hitting it overtime was a convenient way to tie the franchise record.
A serious effort by the pens to find a way to win against the best team in the league, in their fold and break a long winning streak. The bad news is that pens will have that feeling for a while, depending on Zucker’s condition going forward.
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