For those who don’t follow the NHL very closely, let me explain this article to you. The Pittsburgh Penguins are in a slump. In fact, in their last ten games, the Pens are 4-6-0. Even the last place, Carolina Hurricanes have a better record in their last ten.
Given their effort against the Vancouver Canucks on the 16th of January, one can only assume that the lacklustre effort that the Penguins have put forth as of late, revolves around the defence and goaltending of this storied club.
Near the beginning of that disastrous night in Vancouver, Sergei Gonchar lost the puck in his skates after a pass was made to him. At that time, he had the unfortunate fortune of being the point man on the Power Play.
While Gonchar was struggling to get the puck out of his skates, in swoops Alex Burrows, who effortlessly plucks the puck out of poor Sergei’s skates, and scores a weak one on Penguins third-stringer, Dan Curry.
You’re probably imagining why the Penguins would have their third-string goaltender in nets, who coincidently has a 12.50 GAA in the NHL this season. No, that’s not a typo.
Unfortunately, the Pens could not pull their inexperienced goaltender out of the game for someone more reliable, after allowing 5 goals in 25 minutes on even less shots, because both Marc-André Fleury, and the Penguins backup, Brent Johnson were unable to play this game.
So who was serving as the backup goaltender? A 19-year-old teenager by the name of Alexandre Pechurskiy, who’s only professional experience before this game was six games with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, and one game in the KHL with Magnitogorsk Metallurg.
Imagine being in the shoes of Pechurskiy. How nervous would you be? I wouldn’t want to be in the way of a Sami Salo slapper, or a Henrik Sedin wrist shot. However, the 19-year-old stood his ground, and even while the Canucks threw everything but the kitchen sink at the teen, Pechurskiy stood his ground, only letting in one goal on 13 shots.
We can all be sure that that won’t be Pechurskiy’s last game in the NHL, and after a couple years in the minors, the Pens will have quite the prospect on their hands.