The Penguins didn’t make it easy for themselves, as they fell into a two goal hole early, but they never panicked and found a way to win this game. They did it on the strength of two Sidney Crosby goals and a huge performance from their special teams units.
The penalty kill will go down as the hero of this game as it was faced with having to kill off six Stars power plays. It came through that test with flying colors, killing a five on three and scoring a short handed goal off of the stick of Sidney Crosby.
Crosby was employed in a penalty killing role a bit more often than he typically has been in the past and looked great alongside Jordan Staal. That duo cleared pucks and forechecked their tails off, which created Crosby’s short handed opportunity.
He did exactly that on the goal, he got a stick on a puck, created a loose one. I just tried to jump on it and get a good shot.”
Though Staal did make a great stick check to spring Crosby, number 87 took the puck from center ice and never looked back in streaking down the left wing and firing a shot home that beat goaltender Kari Lehtonen.
Here are some of additional thoughts from Crosby on today’s victory.
On winning back to back games and what differentiated the two…
“They were different, last game it was a matter of us playing really well and wearing them down. Today it was a matter of trying to regroup and respond after a not so good first half.”
On the play of his goaltender and knowing that Fleury will always bounce back…
“Yeah, we always know that he bounces back. It’s gonna happen…we all have tough nights and unfortunately when you’re a goalie everyone kind of looks at you when you get pulled. He responds the best way possible every time. There’s no worry there, he did it once again…he bounced back and there was no question that he wouldn’t.”
On being impressed with both special teams…
“Yeah, we had to kill a few there and guys did a great job blocking shots and Adsy (Adams) was laying down a few times and sacrificing his body a bit. So that’s what you do on the penalty kill and then it’s great for Poni to get his first one on the power play. We try a lot of simple things some times, but that’s as simple as it gets — throw a puck on net with the guy in front finding it. So you know it was really good to get some production from both.”
Marc Andre Fleury was all smiles post game after bouncing back from a poor performance in his last start in New York. He was even more excited knowing that he didn’t start particularly well today, but was able to settle in and get a huge win for his team. Here are his thoughts on…
Staying calm, cool and collected and bouncing back from poor performances…
“I think that is something I have learned with my time here. Never worry too much. Its always frustrating to lose and to give up goals, but once the days over you have to forget about it as quickly as possible and get ready for the next game.”
He did earn some laughs when he mentioned that he isn’t always so laid back when allowing goals…
“I say bad words in my mask sometimes, you probably can’t see…”
On knowing that he had to make some huge saves to start the third period due to facing a two man advantage…
“I like it, I like it… I knew I had to make a big one to keep the team in the game and give us a chance to win.”
On the fact that his teammates have so much confidence in him…
“Yeah, its great. I think its mutual, even if I give up a couple in the game I know that we’re not done. the guys are going to keep coming and get some goals. I always believe that we’re going to come back and win the game. ”
Alexei Ponikarovsky managed to pick up his first goal as a Penguin on a late power play, but it looks as if it is going to take a few games for him to get into game shape. He hadn’t played a game in roughly three weeks and it showed. He left the ice before his line-mates on multiple occasions and was a -2 on the day. It was refreshing to see him park his big body in the slot, usually right in front of the goaltender. It really looks as if he is going to be a great fit for this team. He skated primarily with Evgeni Malkin and Ruslan Fedotenko. He also took shifts on the number one power play unit.
Jordan Leopold really impressed me with his skating ability this afternoon. He made plenty of plays in the defensive zone by utilizing his speed, made great break out passes and finished the afternoon at +3. He has also been blocking plenty of shots… he has six in the three games he has played for the Penguins.
Craig Adams and Mike Rupp have shown that they all deserve to be in the line-up. Adams and Rupp each had fights today that seemed to pump their teammates up. Especially Adams, who was throwing blows with Steve Ott for close to a minute. Rupp has been doing a ton of little things, chipping pucks out of danger, creating scoring chances and bringing toughness to this line-up.
Pascal Dupuis has been on fire lately and scored another goal today. It was a nifty tip in off of a great Kris Letang pass. He has shown some great touch around the net, something that was not a huge part of his game previously. This team gets even more dangerous if Dupuis is going to contribute on a regular basis.
It was great to see Mike Modano get some recognition from the Mellon Arena crowd after the Penguins put up a graphic honoring him for becoming the highest scoring American player in NHL history. Modano gave a humble wave from the bench in response to his ovation.
I get more impressed with Brenden Morrow every time I watch him play. Not only is he a great leader, but he managed to keep a +1 rating in a game in which his team allowed six goals. He finished the afternoon with an assist, five shots on goal, three hits and two blocked shots. Morrow’s assist was a beautiful home run strike to Brandon Segal which sprung he and Mike Ribeiro on a two on one.
Sidney Crosby’s two goals pushed him into the league lead with 44. He is now two ahead of Alex Ovechkin who is sitting at 42. Crosby is also tied for second in league scoring with 83 points.
I will again be live at Mellon Arena tomorrow as the Penguins meet the Boston Bruins.