Canucks fall in middle frame, falling to Penguins for their seventh loss in 8 games

The Pittsburgh Penguins have spent the majority of the first six week of the season dealing with injuries, and a COVID-19 virus outbreak.

Tristan Jarry, the goaltender, has been one of their few consistent players. The playoff flameout of last spring seems to have become an ever smaller speck in his rearview.

Jarry recorded 36 saves in a 4-1 victory against Vancouver on Wednesday, which extended Pittsburgh’s winning streak to 4. Jarry’s incredible return to form has coincided with this surge. The 26-year-old has stopped 116 shots of his last 118 attempts and had at one point the Thanksgiving Eve crowd at PPG Paints Arena singing his name.

Bryan Rust, Penguins forward, said that he can clearly see him back there taking on challenging shots and reading plays well. His rebound control is phenomenal, I think. … He’s been incredible. It was great to see.

WATCH | Penguins skate past Canucks:

Canucks lose to Penguins on their road trip

Vancouver lost 4-1 to Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. Forward Evan Rodrigues was the winner for Penguins. 0:51

Rust and Zach Aston-Reese both ended extended goal droughts — 10 games for Rust, 21 for Aston-Reese — and Brock McGinn and Evan Rodrigues also scored for Pittsburgh. The Penguins have dominated their opponents throughout their four-game run. They outscored Montreal, Toronto Winnipeg, Winnipeg, and Vancouver by a combined score 15-2.

Rust stated, “I believe we’re building.” We had many good moments during our Canadian trip. … We were great from the first shift to the third period in Winnipeg. It was a solid foundation that we were able to build upon tonight. … We’re generally trending in a positive direction.

The Canucks’ Thatcher Demko saved 33 times. Bo Horvat scored his sixth goal of the season — Vancouver’s first marker in 147:58 of game time — but couldn’t stop the Canucks from falling to 1-6-1 in their last eight games.

Horvat stated, “It is exhausting.” “We all talk about the same thing all the time. It has to come from within. It must come from within the room.

Team Canada GM Doug Armstrong breaks down roster decisions:| Team Canada GM Doug Armstrong breaks down roster decisions:

Canadian Olympic men’s hockey power rankings: Ep. 04 – Doug Armstrong

Rob Pizzo decided it was time to meet the man responsible for Canada’s Olympic hockey squad. 8:17

Vancouver had the NHL’s worst penalty kill, allowing a goal for the fifteenth time in 20 games. Demko was often left to his own devices by Vancouver’s careless turnovers or shoddy play.

Even Pittsburgh’s 32nd-ranked power play — an anomaly mostly brought on by the extended absence of star centre Sidney Crosby, among others — showed signs of life.

Vancouver came in allowing opponents to convert a staggering 37 per cent of the time with the man advantage, but managed to turn away two power plays by the Penguins in the first period.

In the second, the Canucks were not so lucky. Pittsburgh’s lead was given to Rust, who stood in the left corner and hit a one timer on Kris Letang’s pass 49 second into the second.

Rodrigues, who thrived after being moved to the fourth line because of injury and illness, doubled Penguins’ advantage at 7:29 in the second. This was largely due to Quinn Hughes’s baffling mistake.

Hughes became entangled in Vancouver’s zone. Instead of dropping the puck to a teammate, Hughes decided to send a cross-ice passing to nobody. Rodigues was the one who got the puck. He faked a pass, then he sent a cross-ice pass. Rodigues scored his seventh goal and 100th of his seven-year career.

Jarry Sharp in Third

Vancouver responded with an extended push, only for Jarry to make a series masterful stops including two from point-blank range. After one sequence, his last name was heard throughout the arena. This is a far cry of last spring’s scene where his poor play led to a loss to the New York Islanders in the first round playoff.

Aston-Reese put the game beyond reach late in the second half, when he converted after a three-on-1 break for his first goal of the season since April.

“Happiness to be the first one” [of the season] out of the way and hopefully there’s more to come,” Aston-Reese said.

Jarry was denied his bid for a third shutout in four games by Horvat, who stuffed a backhander in close to the goaltender with 5 minutes remaining in regulation. With less than two minutes left, the Canucks pulled Demko but McGinn’s empty-netter ended any chance of a rally.

Horvat scored his sixth goal of the season — Vancouver’s first marker in 147:58 of game time — but couldn’t stop the Canucks from falling to 1-6-1 in their last eight games.