Bad game for Pittsburgh, no two ways about it. They didn't look good and a superior and opportunistic San Jose team jumped on them from the get-go. Right now due to injuries this is a club that doesn't look like a Stanley Cup winner. Help is on the horizon, Evgeni Malkin skated before the game and guys like Sergei Gonchar and Maxime Talbot are on the mend...But until that time Pittsburgh has to find a way. They haven't been able to do that lately, obviously. And on a night like tonight, San Jose totally outclassed them. They out-skated, out-worked, out-chanced and easily out-scored the Pens.
- Things would go bad to worse with the defensemen. Alex Goligoski, who's been nothing short of sensational, was questionable coming into the game with reportedly a case of the flu. Goligoski would play, and play quite well. He skated a team high 27:01, threw five shots on goal and amazingly wasn't on the ice for an even-strength goal.
- But the real problems would come with another injury to Kris Letang. Letang took a nasty spill when he drove to the net in the first period and got taken down. Letang appeared to land on his arm and wouldn't return to the game. If he's hurt enough to miss time obviously another costly injury for the struggling power-play.
- Dan Boyle was the star of this game, showing why he's a top defenseman in the league and will be a force with Team Canada at the Olympics. Boyle was strong on the puck, making great passes and shot/passes to teammates.
- Death, taxes, and Dany Heatley scoring against the Penguins. Since the lockout Heatley has now 16 goals in 17 games (with six more assists) against Pittsburgh after tonight. Good thing he's in the Western Conference now, huh?
- We speculated earlier that maybe Sidney Crosby is hurt, but maybe it's just that no one else around him is doing much. Crosby won 70% of his 23 faceoffs of the night, impressive considering all four regular San Jose centers are in the top 10 league-wide in faceoff percentage. Crosby also got three shots on goal (with two more missed and two blocked). While he wasn't particularly dangerous at any time, he wasn't totally bad. Just spinning wheels, as the rest of the team seemed to be.
- Marc-Andre Fleury struggled giving up 3 goals on 14 shots before getting a mercy pull. Fleury wasn't totally bad either, he made a few shots, but he gave up two bad goals. The game opening score was one Jamie McGinn snuck by him from a bad angle, one MAF would surely like back. The final goal Fleury allowed came off a Boyle shot from a point you'd expect Fleury to be in better position for.
- At the same time, the Pens were being outshot 14-4 by the Sharks while Fleury was in the game. While he wasn't good, the skaters in front of him didn't provide any help either. Tough to pin it on him, as no goalie around would have been able to lift Pittsburgh to a win tonight.
- The power-play still hasn't scored since Evgeni Malkin left the lineup. It's getting bad. Or whatever is past that.
With one win in three California games it wasn't a successful trip. Injuries to possibly Letang as well as Tyler Kennedy not being able to be back means the Pens are more banged up coming back to the east coast than they were before they left. Fleury's been touched up for eight goals in less than five periods of play and overall the Pens have been outscored 9-0 dating back to their last four periods.
Pittsburgh is a team as on the ropes as they've ever been in the Dan Bylsma era. This is the first time under him they haven't gotten points in the standings in two straight regular season games. The path ahead doesn't offer much promise, two days off before a road game at home and then three games in six nights back at home. Combined record of the next four opponents: 31-25-6, all four teams were in the playoffs last spring and will be gunning for the champs.
It won't be easy, but no one is going to feel sorry for the boys in black and gold. Time to rally around the flag and get back to simple and winning hockey.