Pens feeling ‘snake-bitten’ during trip
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Brock Boeser made all the right plays for Jacob Markstrom and the Vancouver Canucks, except for one.
Boeser had three goals and an assist, leading the Canucks to a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins late Saturday night.
It was Boeser’s first career hat trick. Bo Horvat had a goal and three assists for Vancouver (7-4-2), and Sven Baertschi also had three assists.
Markstrom made 37 saves as the Canucks snapped a two-game slide where they scored just one combined goal in consecutive home losses. But Markstrom missed out on a possible assist when Boeser passed to Christopher Tanev with an empty net in the final seconds, and the defenseman had his shot blocked.
The goaltender teased the rookie about the play after the victory.
“He was chirping me a little bit,” Boeser said with a smile. “He still would have got an assist if it had been a little cleaner pass.”
Jake Guentzel and Greg McKegg scored for Pittsburgh (8-6-2), and Matt Murray made 17 stops.
“We didn’t give up a significant amount of scoring chances,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan. “We generated a fair amount of scoring chances. We’re a little bit snake-bitten.”
The Penguins tied it at 2 at 4:49 of the third period when McKegg tipped home his second of the season. But Boeser scored his fifth goal of the season just 1:07 later after taking a feed from Horvat in the slot and ripping a shot against the grain on Murray.
The goal came moments after Patric Hornqvist hit the post behind Markstrom.
“It’s obviously truly a special one, to score three goals in a game like that,” Boeser said. “But it’s about our team game.
“I thought our team got better as the game went on.”
Horvat put the game away at 16:29 when he roofed a shot up and over Murray for his fifth. Boeser nearly had a fourth into an empty net with under a minute to go, but chose to pass instead of shoot.
Tied 1-1 after a spirited first, Boeser scored his second of the night at 7:14 of the middle period off a good Canucks cycle. Horvat fed a no-look pass from the corner in front to Baertschi, who kicked the puck to his stick and over to Boeser at the side of the net, where he slide his shot past Murray.
Markstrom, who was bailed out by Tanev with the puck sitting on his goal line on the first shift of the game, returned the favor in the second when he stopped Phil Kessel with his glove after the Canucks defenseman turned the puck over.
The Penguins opened the scoring on the power play 2:53 into the first.
Sidney Crosby tapped a no-look touch pass between his own legs to Kessel, who quickly fed a wide-open Guentzel at the side of the net for his fourth.
Boeser tied at 7:07 when Horvat pressured Pittsburgh defenseman Olli Maatta along on the wall. The puck eventually found its way to Boeser, and he evaded Kris Letang before using a nice backhand move on Murray.
Playing their third game in four nights, and NHL-leading 11th road contest, the Penguins almost scored on the game’s first shift when Tanev cleared Conor Sheary’s shot off the goal line after it squeezed through Markstrom.
“They are a fast team,” Markstrom said. “They play really aggressive, they come at you with two or three guys.”