Redirects torment Penguins, goalie Matt Murray in loss
Tips and redirections are good ways to get pucks past the big, technically sound, modern NHL goaltender.
The Pittsburgh Penguins got that concept all twisted Saturday afternoon.
They were tipping pucks past their own goaltender.
Matt Murray gave up five goals in two periods, and each puck that got behind him deflected off a teammate at a key point in the scoring sequence.
That led to a 5-4 victory for the Calgary Flames at PPG Paints Arena.
The loss ended a modest two-game winning streak for the Penguins, who remain stuck on the fringes of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
“Guys are trying to defend,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “They’re trying to get their stick on the puck. They’re trying to get in the shot lanes. They’re trying to close and take time and space away. Sometimes pucks go off sticks. It is what it is. I don’t know if there’s more to it than that.”
Calgary’s first goal was the wildest deflection of them all. An Oliver Kylington point shot hit Nick Bjugstad’s body, Andrew Mangiapane’s skate and Murray’s stick before sliding across the goal line.
The Flames took control of the game with two goals in a two-minute span early in the second period.
On the first, a Rasmus Andersson point shot hit Jack Johnson’s leg before Michael Frolik cleaned up the rebound. On the second, an Austin Czarnik shot from the left wing hit Brian Dumoulin’s skate.
“It’s tough,” Dumoulin said. “It’s the breaks of hockey. Obviously, they got some puck luck there. It goes to show you: just put it on net, and maybe it’ll go in.”
After the Penguins closed to 3-2 on a Sidney Crosby power-play goal, the Flames scored twice in a three minute-span at the end of the period. Again, pucks were pinballing off Penguins with regularity.
On the first, a Travis Hamonic shot from the right wing was tipped by Dumoulin and Jake Guentzel. On the second, a Derek Ryan centering pass deflected off Jared McCann and Dumoulin as it made its way across the top of the crease to Sam Bennett for a goal.
“(Murray) and I have talked about it. Some of those goals happen,” goalie Casey DeSmith said. “Guys shoot hard, and there’s plenty of sticks and skates and bodies in the way that it can go off of. Sometimes it ends up in the net. Obviously, sometimes you can put yourself in a better position to stop a redirect, but a lot of the time, it’s just really bad luck.”
The Penguins couldn’t entirely chalk up the loss as a matter of bad luck for a couple of reasons.
First, on some of the goals, they made mistakes to put themselves in a defensive posture in the first place. Frolik’s goal came after a poor defensive shift by the second line. Czarnik’s came after Kris Letang and Matt Cullen couldn’t connect on a pass in the neutral zone. Hamonic’s came after Murray missed a chance to cover a rebound.
Second, they can’t afford to miss opportunities to collect points. There remains a real chance they could miss the playoffs.
“Two points is two points, and we came out with zero. It hurts,” DeSmith said. “But I think it’s a game to build on.”
If DeSmith is right and the Penguins can build on Saturday’s loss, it will likely be in two areas. The Penguins enjoyed a 3-for-4 showing from the previously slumping power play and a two-goal effort from the previously slumping Evgeni Malkin.
“It’s not everything perfect, a couple mistakes,” Malkin said, “but I think we’re fine.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .