Staal, Johnson help Pens bust the slump and beat Atlanta 5-2

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Thrashers vs Penguins coverage - Thrashers vs Penguins boxscore - Bird Watchers Anonymous

Playing the Atlanta Thrashers is usually an elixir for what ails the Pittsburgh Penguins and tonight's 5-2 victory was no different.  Brent Johnson held the fort in net when the T-bombs out shot the Pens 11-1 early in the game and Jordan Staal supplied 2 goals and an assist to lead the charge on offense.  Slump busted.

  • Luca Caputi only scored one goal in his five games last season in the NHL, and it came in his first game.  Tonight again he scored on his NHL season debut, benefiting from an empty net after a magnificent rush and play from Evgeni Malkin pulled Atlanta netminder Ondrej Pavelec out of his cage.
  • As much credit to Staal you must reciprocate to his wingman Tyler Kennedy.  On Staal goal #1, TK dug the puck from down low and threw it out for him.  Staal goal #2 was initiated when Mr. Kennedy took a bad angle shot that Pavelec was forced to kick into the middle of the ice for Staal to deposit into the empty net.
  • Ruslan Fedotenko also got out of a funk of his own with the eventual game winner when he drove the net, collected Staal's rebound and put it past Pavelec.  Second chances was definitely the theme of the evening on the goals.
  • Brent Johnson didn't earn one of the three stars of the night, but without his 31 save on 33 shot performance the Penguins wouldn't have broken out.  He deserves credit and recognition.
  • For Atlanta, Jim Slater came into the season with one goal and left with three.  With the puck on his stick he, not Ilya Kovalchuk or Rich Peverley was the most dangerous play.
  • Kovalchuk, for his part, saw a lot of Kris Letang and Brooks Orpik.  Letang, in particular played his D role well, and Kovy was limited to 3 shots on goal to go with his plus/minus of -3.
  • Besides just playing defense, Letang got off the schnide by scoring his first goal in 20, with a nice move skating into space and getting a good shot.

The first at home game after a long roadie is often seen as a letdown, but the Penguins seemed determined not to let that happen, since they lost all four road games.  It wasn't purely Crosby and Malkin that carried the weight, other guys like Letang, Staal, Kennedy and Fedotenko stepped up.  And sometimes that's what you need to get out of a slump.

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