With the 2016 NHL Rookie Tournament in action the weekend of September 16-18, Last Word on Hockey is the place to go for everything you need to know. Team-specific recaps will be posted from each game, and follow along live on Twitter for updates from @charliejclarke and @gSchroedes16
The third contest of the six-game slate over the weekend in London pitted the two teams that suffered losses the day before against each other in the forms of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators. The Pens were able to generate 18 shots to Ottawa’s 8 through 20 minutes, but still ended up trailing after one on a goal by Senator Stephen Harper banging away in front of the net. The game tightened up in the middle stanza evidenced by the shot totals in the period (11-11), but the story remained Senators netminder Chris Driedger throughout the contest.
Finishing with 43 shots on net, the Pens ultimately could not solve the former 76th overall pick falling 1-0 to drop to 0-2 in the tournament. While the Penguins dominated the shot chart (43-27), they were getting themselves into penalty trouble with two fights and seven minor penalties, one that the Sens capitalized on. Though Ottawa returned the favor with four, the Penguins could not get many second chances deep in the crease as the Sens defended their goaltender well in tight.
Here’s who stood out for the Penguins:
A recent acquisition by General Manager Jim Rutherford as a college free agent, Prow is one of ten players in the tournament that have played in the AHL. The 23-year old tallied his first professional point in his five-game stint this past season, and held his own today. He was noticeable for his defensive play for the better part of the first half of the contest, using his skating ability and smarts to be in the right spot at the right time blocking shots, timing his stick checks correctly and using his feet to clear the zone on the PK.
The St. Cloud State captain showed off his sense of leadership as well at times, including communicating with his defense on who to cover on a 3-on-2 coming his way that resulted in an easy save for goaltender Tristan Jarry. Known for his offense as the highest assist and pointgetter in the NCAA this past year, he was involved in creating chances that nearly got the Penguins on the board. Cutting into the slot, he showed off some good legs before ripping a shot that was tipped up onto the glass. Moments later, his point shot through traffic was swallowed up by Driedger. Overall in a game that didn’t offer many high points for the Penguins on the scoreboard, Prow did his job.
Looking overmatched and having trouble seeing the puck against the high-powered Canadiens yesterday giving up two goals in just half a game. Jarry bounced back to the tune of allowing one goal while making 26 saves. Today, he was more agile, had no problems seeing the puck, and really was the savior for the Penguins on the penalty kill all game long. One signature save he made came on a redirect right in front of the net that the 21-year old got his left pad on. Unfortunately, he did not get the support that he did last night. Coming off of his first professional season posting a 2.69 goals against average and .905 save percentage in 33 games, he will get more of a look with Wilkes-Barre with Matt Murray leading the Senior Penguins to glory.
In an offensively challenging day for the Penguins, Dea came to play on the other side of the puck. Though a more diminutive frame compared to his counterparts standing at 5’11” and 175 pounds, he threw his body around knocking down Macoy Erkamps and Nick Paul to provide some energy for his team. The latter stands at 6’3” and 234 pounds, so Dea timed his challenges correctly. The former Wheeling Nailer also made a couple of takeaways on the power play and even strength setting up offensive chances for himself and team. He did kill a possible final jolt for his team taking a tripping penalty with 2:29 left in the game, however. Overall, the 20-goal scorer for Wilkes-Barre last season he was one of the more noticeable forwards the Pens employed today with his overall play, and it will be interesting to see how he builds on his career season last year.
The Penguins were not available for comment after the contest. They will try to salvage their third game of the weekend against the Leafs tomorrow night at 4:35 p.m. in the last game of the tournament.