Rough debut for Penguins’ DeSmith as Wheeler completes hat trick
You know how Mario Lemieux scored his first NHL goal during his first NHL shift in his first game? Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith essentially experienced a reverse-Lemieux on Sunday night.
Matt Murray ended up getting the start against the Winnipeg Jets, but he was chased out of the net after allowing four goals in less than 20 minutes of play. That opened the door for DeSmith’s debut, where he gave up Blake Wheeler’s hat-trick goal.
The first shot DeSmith faced ended up being an absolute beauty by Wheeler, and he soon saw hats littering the Jets’ ice. Talk about a harsh introduction, although Wheeler’s biggest victim on that play was probably a helpless Kris Letang.
Speaking of harsh, one can imagine that Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan will “share his thoughts” with his team during the first intermission.
Wheeler scored the fastest hat trick in Jets’ history, collecting his three goals in a blistering 4:20 of play, part of a miserable showing from Matt Murray (four goals allowed on just nine shots on goal).
The Jets'/Thrashers' last hat trick vs. the Pens was by Ilya Kovalchuk. Jan. 6, 2006. Thibault, Fleury & an empty net gave up the goals.— Seth Rorabaugh (@SethRorabaugh) October 29, 2017
The Jets set team records in the first period for quickest three goals (:34) and quickest four goals (4:20).— Winnipeg Jets PR (@WpgJetsPR) October 30, 2017
Here’s video of the hat trick:
Pittsburgh fell 2-1 to the Minnesota Wild last night, so there’s a question about how much the Penguins have left in the tank to push for an unlikely comeback. So far, the Jets look like they’re game. If nothing else, DeSmith should get some chances to pile up some saves.
Speaking of getting saves, for some a night like this is just another reminder that Pittsburgh needs a more dependable backup:
While we all know the defense has been dreadful, it’s moments like these where a capable backup goalie can ease the pain of back-to-backs.— PensBurgh (@Pensburgh) October 29, 2017
Update: The Jets ended up winning 7-1. For more on the Penguins’ struggles closing out back-to-back sets, check this post.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.