It doesn't matter how you win them, it just matters that you do win them. Two points in the standings is two points in the standings. Insert your cliché here, but the Penguins did what they needed to do and somehow hung on to get the two points--and keep a spiraling Montreal team in their decline. And now to the post-game thoughts:
--First thing you had to notice is how new interim head coach Dan Bylsma kept everyone on their toes. Unlike Michel Therrien, who was content not to worry about matchups, Coach B shaked and shimmied his lines around. In the first period alone, Evgeni Malkin played with three different sets of wingers: Petr Sykora and Miroslav Satan, Sykora and Chris Minard, Maxime Talbot and Tyler Kennedy. Sidney Crosby also had all sorts of linemates shuffled around.
--Interesting how Therrien was criticized for some of the same line shuffling. But, the measure success isn't continuity or not, it's effectiveness. And tonight the chaos and changes were effective.
--Ruslan Fedotenko had a great night, registering two assists. And leading up to his broken hand injury he had actually looked pretty solid too, so it's good to see him staying on track. I need tell no one how much the Penguins need wingers to play well and produce.
--Your first star of the game was Evgeni Malkin, and with good reason. Though statistically Geno "only" had one goal and one assist, he was clearly the top player in the game. Let's start with his goal, it was a thing of beauty. Fedotenko made a hell of a play tdown the middle and got it to Crosby. El Sid found a streaking Malkin who despite being harassed and tripped (the ref had his arm up for a penalty) got a falling shot off to beat Carey Price. It wasn't as individually awe-inspiring as Alex Ovechkin's goal from a night earlier, but it was still a wonderful play that only a handful of guys could pull off.
--One thing the Penguins didn't do well was face offs, subtract Crosby (who won 71% of his 17 draws) the rest of the team won just 32% of the face offs. Not good at all, but at the end of the day the only thing that matters is the scoreboard.
--Firing a coach is undoubtedly a good way to jumpstart a team and send a shock through everyone, but why does it seem like the Penguins "heart and soul" guys in Max Talbot, Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke are skating so much harder now than they were under Therrien? Especially for guys like Talbot and Kennedy who grew up with Therrien as their coach, a guy who was very good for them. It's good to see them hustling so much now, but they are professionals, they should be at that level every night, it's largely why they're in the NHL in the first place.
--There's a trend developing to keep an eye on: the Penguins are 2-0 under Bylsma in terms of out-shooting the opponents, something they've struggled at doing all season long.
--As you'll learn later from me, I track an informal "black and blue" trophy for the player that records the most hits plus blocked shots in the season. Tonight Brooks Orpik had seven hits and two blocked shots, adding to his lead in the league in this invented title.
--Sergei Gonchar, a notorious slow-starter, is seamlessly sliding into the lineup and got the game winning goal. Having Sarge's steady presence on the back line will go a long way towards stabilizing the team, just watch.
--Marc-Andre Fleury would probably want a couple of those goals back, but he stepped up and made some solid saves. On some chances opponents and teammates, a continuing trend, blocked MAF's view of the shot. To a man, all the defensemen need to do a little better job to give their goalie a clear sightline of the shot.
A win is a win is a win. And these are happy times, given how the Pens battled back, hung in there and eventually got the win. But the last time they won a game it was against San Jose and most thought they had turned the corner....Only to give up five unanswered goals to Toronto and go right back to square one.
Just remember, the highs can't be too high and the lows can't be too low. It was a good win, but it's just one game. From the time this game ended they will play two games in the next 64 hours against two playoff-bound rivals, and both on the road at that. If the team gets caught up in the win again, they'll quickly be punished and the playoff hopes (already on life-support) will be about extinguished.