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Jared McCann, who scores a powerplay goal, becomes almost as routine as the penguins who do wear an alternative jersey.
McCann was inducted into the top power play unit on March 25, in the absence of strikers Evgeni Malkin and Kasperi Kapanen, and has since scored five power play goals in eight games.
The performance that McCann is a strong unit in the power game is not so unusual. He was a 2014 Vancouver Canucks first round election (# 24 overall) so he clearly has a pedigree. And only from a visual point of view does his shot look different from that of most NHL players. That said, he has a tough release that can cause problems for goalkeepers.
Still, the numbers for McCann have never really emerged over the course of his career. Look at these numbers from penguin historian Bob Grove:
It doesn’t make sense, but the results have been there for McCann for the past two or more weeks.
« He’s got a great shot, » Sidney said Crosby, striker of the penguins. “He’s using it. To the extent that it is predictable and simplifies things, it helps. He shot the puck really well. Today he’s in and around the net, collapsing to get a rebound. He can score goals and he showed that. «
A goal after a goal-mouth fight gave the Devils 1-0 and 3:01 lead. After the Devils striker Pavel Zacha had defeated the penguin striker Evan Rodrigues in the left circle of the penguins, lifted Devils striker Jesper Bratt took a wrister off the left wall and was stopped by goalkeeper Casey DeSmith, and on the rebound, Devils striker Miles Wood won a fierce position battle with Penguins defender Kris Letang and scooped the puck for his 12th goal of the season on DeSmith’s left Skate over. Assists went to Bratt and Zacha.
The penguins connected the game with a power play goal at 10:00 am of the first period after a pass attempt by penguin striker Bryan Rust from the right circle of the offensive zone stuck Puck Devils defender Sami Vatanen’s right skate into the high slot where Crosby uncorked a one-timer, and goalkeeper Mackenzie Blackwood threw the shot down with his gloved hand but let a ricochet rec hts trickle from the fold. McCann was able to correct the puck, lifting a wrister over Blackwood’s blocker on the near side for his eleventh goal of the season and team-leading sixth power play result. Crosby and Rust collected templates.
Late that time, at 7:13 p.m., the Penguins took a 2-1 lead. From the left point of the offensive zone, Penguins defender Cody Ceci distributed a pass for defender Brian Dumoulin to the right point. Dumoulin studied for a moment and threw a wrister who looked from Devils forward at Janne Kuokkanens right arm. The puck made a detour, ricocheted off the ice, and passed Blackwood’s glove on the other side. It was Dumoulin’s second goal of the season and his second in three games. Ceci and striker Sam Lafferty scored assists.
The devils tied the game again with 2: 2, 5: 39 in the second half. Devils striker Yegor Sharangovich claimed a loose puck in the penguins’ slot and picked up a wrister in the net, which DeSmith denied. During the subsequent rebound to the left of the cage, Kuokkanen struck a forehand shot, but was denied by DeSmith. The ricochet from that shot ricocheted off the right of the cage. The Devils striker Jack Hughes set down the puck and lifted a wrister past DeSmith’s glove from a bad angle to score his ninth goal. Assists were credited to Kuokkanen and Sharangovich.
A goal from an unlikely source gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead at 17:36 in the second half. After Penguins striker Mark Jankowski defeated Devils striker Mikhail Maltsev on a face-off in the left circle from New Jersey, Letang dropped the puck at the left point and threw a wrister into the net. Blackwood saved first, but let a rebound flutter in the air above the fold. Penguin striker Colton Sceviour was able to concentrate enough to gently pull the puck over Blackwood’s glove for his third goal of the season and his first since Jan. 19. The assists were counted by Letang and Jankowski.
Another power play goal from Rust 4:06 in the third half brought the penguins by two. From the left wall of the offensive zone, Sidney Crosby, the Penguins’ striker, drew a cross-ice pass who looked into the slot from McCann’s stick and slid across the right circle for Rust, who knocked off a slapper. With Pinguins striker Jake Guentzel providing a solid screen, the puck clinked off the far post and hit Bust’s 15th goal of the season with assists from McCann and Crosby.
The Penguins poured it out at 10:02 on the third. After a dump-in on the end boards of the Devils, Güntzel Crosby touched a pass into the right circle, which tore a wrister past Blackwood’s blocker on the other side for his 16th goal. Güntzel and defender John Marino registered assists.
Things got interesting late on the track thanks to the bad luck on behalf of the Penguins.
At 11:34 am on the third day, Devils striker Jesper Boqvist stepped in the offensive zone and chased a puck down in the right corner of the penguins to whip it towards the crease. The puck hit Letang’s right skate and was deflected into the net. Boqvist was credited with his second goal of the season. There were no templates.
It was a one-goal game at 6:24 pm. After a wrister from Devils defender Ty Smith was diverted from the left point of Wood’s penguin zone and rejected by DeSmith, the rebound slipped onto the end boards. Dumoulin claimed the puck and, thanks in part to pressure from Wood, played it into the crease where it fell off DeSmith’s right leg and was deflected into the cage. Wood was credited with the goal. There were no templates.
An empty net goal from Rust at 7:35 pm sparked all hopes for a comeback. Assists were counted by Güntzel and Letang.
• Defenders Dmitry Kulikov, Sami Vatanen and Bratt led the Devils with two blocked shots each.
• A win is a win, but this was kind of an ugly win . The penguins were mostly played in the second period. And when their superior skills finally gave them a considerable head start, a few hiccups led to some lucky jumps and a tricky ending in the third period.
Each team played their second games in so many nights that it was tactical both sides of the puck wasn’t exactly a good game. But the penguins should have secured this victory a lot easier.
• Given the regular penguin fights in New Jersey, the point above is a sucker. Every win against the devils on their ice is a formidable triumph for the penguins.
• The officials did the devils a disservice as the penguins had four power play chances while the devils had one.
• DeSmith scored a pretty dazzling, desperate save at 9:00 a.m. in the second half that left the 2-2 tie. And considering that a deficit against the devils can lead to death, it was the proverbial timely rescue.
The devils striker Nicholas Merkley captured the offensive zone on the left wing, stopped in the spot and took care attacking defender Damon Severson with a pass that raised a wrist that was blocked by a grate.
The ricochet ricocheted off the right wing where Boqvist claimed it was. From a poor angle, Boqvist fired a wrister who was rejected by DeSmith. This sprawled to his left and hit the puck away with his blocker to stop.
-It didn’t mean that much in the end, but Blackwood saved more impressively at 8:27 in the first period. After Penguins forward Jason Zucker made an imaginative game of throwing a puck off the boards around Vatanen, it resulted in a three-on-one onslaught with McCann and Rodrigues against Smith. From the left circle, Zucker slid a pass under a block attempt by Smith to the right of the crease, where McCann’s wrist was robbed on a stunning glove saved by MacKenzie.
It was a pretty eventful game for Letang. He has been involved in two Devils goals, first when he lost a battle for position, then with a lazy jump off his skate. But then he shot a shot that resulted in a goal for Sceviour. It was, in a way, a classic game for Letang.
• Crosby had his first three-point game against the Devils in over four years. Don’t dismiss longtime Devils Center Travis Zajac’s departure earlier this week about trading with the New York Islanders. Zajac usually drew Crosby for most defense duties. On Friday, Hughes was tasked with shadowing Crosby.
• Rust now leads the NHL with four clean sheets. (Crosby and Guentzel are among the five players who are in second place with three such goals). The Penguins raised their best empty net goal in the league to 13.
• Rust thew hit Merkley pretty nastily late in the second half at 7:53 pm.
The goal seemed within the bounds of » to be on time « . But there seemed to be contact with Merkley’s head. Given the inconsistency of the NHL Player Safety Division, it’s hard to tell if this hit is getting a tough look. Given that Merkley appeared to be escaping injury, it’s probably a safe bet Rust won’t face any additional discipline.
• Jankowski extended his career as top player to four games. During that time he has two goals and four assists.
• Dumoulin set a career best by extending a streak to four games. He has two goals and two assists during that time.
« We could have been better under the circumstances (in the third period) so that you don’t fall victim to these types of (bad jumps). We could have been positionally better « We could have been better with the decisions we made with the puck, things like that. Just details. I don’t think we were at our best tonight. I give credit to our guys because I think they have opportunities. » and we were through. Our power play was really good. So we found a way to win, but I don’t think we were at our best. «
» The score is not very indicative of the goal. Both guys did some really nice parades. You must do both of them credit. Both goalkeepers played very well. That was the difference. Casey made an extra save or two for us. “
• Despite his success, Rust doesn’t take a relatively mundane milestone like his 200th career point for granted:
» It’s a pretty cool milestone. When I was in the league for the first time, I just tried to make myself Make a name for yourself. Every time you hit a milestone like this, take a look back at your career and see how far you’ve come and developed as a player. «
• Sullivan spoke about McCann’s place the top power play unit and how it affects the movement on it:
« Regardless of who was on it, whether (Malkin) is on it or Jared is on it, when it clicks there is movement. That is the common theme or the common denominator. It’s just about doing something and being on the same page and again just the details of our power play. Jared has a certain dimension that I think helps. He can score, he can shoot. He is really good , I think, especially when it comes from that strong side flank and only comes off the wall within the points. He has a great shot, he has a misleading publication and I think he only has a knack for scoring goals. Tonight was different. It was a rebound from the pocket area. And that’s just an indication of the movement … where it’s not always on the flank, that we’re not stuck in positions per se, that we’re trying to get some movement. The puck has to move, but people have to move too. I think that’s a big aspect of the deception associated with the power play, and Jared hits out of the pocket by chance. «
» They know how to win. You cannot play every game with your A-game. But they know how to win with their B game. … They are a great team, they are a Stanley Cup team, they are a veterans team. They just know how to win. “
Seth Rorabaugh is a contributor to the Tribune Review. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or on Twitter.
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