Two night after getting blown out of the water, it was definitely a bounce back night for the Philadelphia Flyers. They went back home and came out with a much better performance. But the Pittsburgh Penguins were there at every corner and matched the intensity and goals all the way through the night.
- For all the talk about the Pens power-play, they score 2 goals and really are starting to look better. Moving Evgeni Malkin back to the point has increased puck movement and Chris Kunitz (2 primary assists) and Bill Guerin (1 goal) are playing a simple "go-to-the-net" type game. It's been effective.
- Marc-Andre Fleury was stellar with a 31 save on 33 shot effort, including several great saves. The robbery on Daniel Briere is one that'll make highlight films for the rest of the year. At the other end Brian Boucher was great too; a worthy bounce-back performance from his last game.
- Two pretty careless stick fouls on Malkin in a span of just over 4 minutes. I'm not gonna job him, he was getting his chances and played well on the power-play, but he's got to buckle down a little with HHT (holding, hooking, tripping).
- The three headed monster combined for 16 shots on goal and almost 69 minutes of combined ice-time. That they roll all three out one after another after another gives the opposition no let up.
- After coincidental penalties in OT, they played things 3-on-3 for a two minutes which kind of looked like a middle school dance. Neither side really looked comfortable with that much open ice to work with, in fact the Pens kind of circled in their own zone a lot. Easy to tell neither team gets much practice at it.
- How deep are the Penguins? Consider this: in the current four game winning streak, they haven't repeated a player in "3 Stars of the night". They go Pascal Dupuis (3rd star 12/10), Sergei Gonchar (1st star); Malkin (3rd star 12/12), Ruslan Fedotenko (1st star); Brooks Orpik (3rd star 12/15), Jordan Staal (2nd star), Crosby (1st star); Fleury (2nd star 12/17), Letang (1st star).
A shame the game was decided with the gimmicky shootout, but Penguin fans almost know what happens when it gets that far: Pittsburgh is now 5-0 in the shootout. Fleury improves to 9 of 10 in stops (backup Brent Johnson is perfect 6 for 6), Crosby's a perfect 5 for 5 in scoring and Letang's a pretty fair 2 for 5. Those three specialists give Pittsburgh a huge leg up if it gets to the skills competition.
Two wins in two games in which they outscored Philly 9-3 on the aggregate is a good showing. The Pens move on to three games in six days before the brief Christmas break; starting Saturday in Buffalo before going home to meet New Jersey and Ottawa. All three of those opponents are in the top 8 of the Eastern Conference's standings, and with goalies like Ryan Miller and Martin Brodeur on the horizion, the road doesn't get any easier.