Pittsburgh Penguins’ Three Stars In Overtime Loss To Philadelphia


Jan 20, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Thomas Greiss (1) during the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In a game full of mayhem and, at the end, some pretty interesting hockey, the Pittsburgh Penguins saw their winless streak stretch to three Tuesday night with a 3-2 overtime loss in Philadelphia.

Although the Penguins (26-12-7, 59 points) earned a point by getting to sudden death, they have fallen into third place in the Metropolitan Division after the Rangers’ OT victory over Ottawa.

Pittsburgh will have one more chance to get back on track before the all-star break, but it won’t be easy with the Blackhawks visiting Consol Energy Center for an 8 p.m. faceoff Wednesday.

But before we look ahead, let’s look back at Tuesday night one last time as we roll out the Penguins’ three stars of the game.

Third Star – Rob Scuderi

The aging defenseman hasn’t had too many positive moments since his return to the Penguins two summers ago, but tonight was a nice reminder of his good qualities. Scuderi was effective positionally, helping usher much of the action away from the Pittsburgh net in the early going.

He also laid a perfect hip check into Flyers leading scorer Jakub Voracek, who apparently had to prove his manhood by fighting Scuderi immediately afterward. It was a sigh-inducing moment, but Scuderi protected himself enough in his first NHL bout to escape intact.

In overtime, Scuderi was out on the ice with fellow stalwart blueliner Paul Martin, and if not for a tough bounce on the winning goal, they would have put on a flawless penalty-killing clinic. As it stands, it was still a terrific 21:31 of ice time for the Long Island native.

Second Star – Evgeni Malkin

The Russian dynamo continued what could end up being the finest season of his career. Malkin generated team-highs with seven shots on goal and 10 unblocked shot attempts despite playing just 16:31 in the penalty-filled game.

The lack of opportunity seems mystifying when we see that Sidney Crosby skated for more than 22 minutes Tuesday night, but nonetheless Malkin was consistently the most dangerous player at Wells Fargo Center. His assist on Beau Bennett‘s go-ahead goal early in the third period was a masterpiece, as seen below:

Malkin’s playmaking skill was on full display during that sequence, adroitly working the give-and-go with Bennett. Those two haven’t lit it up during their time on the same line, but we can dream on plays like that.

First Star – Thomas Greiss

I’ve been firmly in the German goaltender’s corner since he was signed in the offseason, and I continue to wonder why he hasn’t been used more often. Marc-Andre Fleury has gotten more than 80 percent of the starts so far this season, but maybe Greiss’ performance Tuesday will convince the Pens coaching staff to find a better balance.

Greiss’ poise stood out in a frantic game, as he gave up very few rebounds despite tons of traffic as the night went along. His work during the Flyers’ final three power plays was all you can ask from a goalie – and more. It’s a shame he couldn’t control the puck after his spectacular stop on Voracek late in overtime, but that misfortune does little to sully his game in my eyes.

Greiss denied 37 Philadelphia shots, many of which with his stunningly-good glove hand. I understand Fleury is in the midst of maybe his best season as a pro, but I’ve felt from the start of this season that Greiss is his equal in every area but NHL experience.

Next: Penguins fall from favored status during lost weekend