Penguins – Flames Fallout

The Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 shootout loss Tuesday night saw them come out of the game with a point in an effort where they deserved two points.

“I thought we deserved better tonight to be honest,” Sidney Crosby said afterwards. “I thought by far we had the better scoring chances throughout the night.”

Crosby picked up his 30th assist of the season on Chris Kunitz third period goal, 5:51 into the period, and heads into Thursday night’s game against Colorado with 998 career points. It could have been a three or four point night for Crosby but Chad Johnson was outstanding.

Crosby had a poor turnover at the Flames blueline leading to a breakaway goal for Micheal Ferland but the Flames for the most part struggled to contain him in the offensive zone. In the faceoff circle, Crosby had a big night, winning 18 of 24 draws, including 76% (12-16) on offensive zone draws.

Chris Kunitz with his seventh goal of the season, continues to see his game trending up and is performing among the Penguins best players at even strength this season. Three points in his last two games, Kunitz and Crosby have played extremely well together on the top line since reunited.

Kunitz is 4th on the team with 20 even strength points and 5th in points/60 at 2.10. The Penguins will see how things go the rest of the way, but with the shape Kunitz keeps himself in and how well he skates and the fact you can still play him anywhere, the door is going to be open from both sides to strike a one year deal in the summer.

— The Penguins in their last four games without Evgeni Malkin have picked up a possible seven of eight points and they’ve played the last three without top-line winger Conor Sheary. Trailing 2-0 in the third and without Malkin, Sheary and Carl Hagelin, shortening the bench vs the Flames was a big turning point for the Penguins third period comeback.

Eric Fehr played just one shift in the third, Tom Kuhnhackl and Scott Wilson just three shifts each in the final period of regulation.

Jake Guentzel scored his first goal in eight games and after a bit of a rough stretch, his play is trending up once again. Guentzel saw increased ice time in the third, seeing nine shifts. The coaching staff continues to marvel at how smart of a player Guentzel is.

“He’s just a heads up player,” Sullivan said. “I think the only thing Jake needs to do is play more games and through that experience he’s only going to improve and get better.

Trade Deadline Buzz: Another veteran netminder being made available in flooded market

The Penguins going right back to Matt Murray after Marc Andre Fleury played well against St. Louis surely ruffled some feathers from the Fleury crowd who feel he isn’t getting a fair shot.

A solid start from Fleury isn’t going to change the pecking order. As mentioned before, the coaching staff reached the point a few weeks ago where a decision internally was made that the goaltender rotation was going to be handled with Murray moving forward as the true No. 1 and Marc Andre Fleury getting starts based on how a No. 2 normally gets starts.

Over this 10 game stretch where Murray has started nine of 10, Fleury probably should have had a couple more starts sprinkled in there, but in the short-term it’s going to take four or five really bad starts from Murray for Fleury to start taking starts away from Murray again and get the rotation to even a 60/40 type split.

The goaltending play from both Matt Murray and Chad Johnson was strong Tuesday night.

When the Penguins fell behind 2-0, Murray was at his best in not letting the score become 3-0.

Meanwhile, on the trade market [hide] another established starting goaltender is said to be available as the goaltender market continues to get flooded with the deadline three weeks away.

The Vancouver Canucks have signaled to teams they will consider trading Ryan Miller by the deadline.

The available goaltenders now include:

Ben Bishop | 13-12-3, .907 sv% | $5.9 million cap hit, UFA
Ryan Miller | 14-14-3, .915 sv% | $6 million cap hit, UFA
Steve Mason | 16-16-6, .900 sv% | $4.1 million cap hit, UFA
Ondrej Pavelec | 4-4-0, .888 sv% | $3.9 million cap hit, UFA
Jaroslav Halak | 6-8-5, .904 sv% | $4.5 million cap hit, Signed through 2017-2018
Marc Andre Fleury | 14-7-4, .906 sv% | $5.75 million cap hit, Signed through 2018-2019[/hide]