The Penguins only had one good period, but under the strength of Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy, that was enough firepower to light the lamp four times in the final frame and give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-1 pre-season win.
Not much happening in the first period, in the second the Chicago Blackhawks finally got on the board when Michael Frolik made a nice move to cut in on Zbynek Michalek and flip the puck underneath both Michalek and Brent Johnson's legs. Nice individual effort made by Frolik, and the two Penguins were a little unlucky to miss blocking the puck by inches.
The Penguins finally got on the board. Ben Lovejoy was pinching in all night and did hear, Tyler Kennedy wisely covered his point and the puck ended up on Kennedy's stick. TK elected to shoot, and Nick Johnson tipped it off the iron. The rebound fluttered to Jordan Staal who was able to smack it in to tie the game up.
Matt Cooke 2.0 gave the Pens their first lead when while driving to the net he deflected a puck on the shift of his stick past Chicago goalie Ray Emery. Craig Adams earned the primary assist for shooting the puck.
The Pens extended the lead to 3-1 on a Kennedy goal. Nick Johnson toe-picked with the puck, but turned embarassment into a nice play when he quickly got up and threw the puck to the net. Deryk Engelland had an open lane and was driving the net, he didn't have an angle on it, so he let it by without disrupting. Smart move, as the rebound went right to Kennedy who had a wide open net and only had to beat 25 year old farmhand defenseman Brian Connelly. He did, 3-1 Pens.
Then right before the game expired Kennedy hit Staal with a pass. 21 year old farm hand Shawn Lalonde wiped out while skating back. Emery, who was pulled for the extra attacker a little earlier, wasn't quite ready when Staal went backhand and buried his second goal of the game.
- Chicago didn't bring fimiliar names like Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Dave Bolland, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and the offense suffered. The Penguins, for their part, had Staal and Kennedy as the top offensive options (shudder, memories of last year). Shots through one period were Pittsburgh 5, Chicago 3. I think I spied Johnson having enough time to flip through his Maple Street Press Penguins Season Preview magazine.
- As mentioned above Lovejoy played a very confident and measured game. Deryk Engelland even led a rush or two up through the zones. Love Engo, but even in these circumstances he ought not do that.
- Alex Picard defensively also looked pretty good out there. Has good size, doesn't panic with the puck and skated pretty smoothly. The Penguins have an enviable and unusal problem for NHL teams- too many right-handed defenseman (Michalek, Lovejoy, Engelland, Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen). With only two left handed shots (Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin) that skill might be an edge for Picard in the future to maintain balance.
- Matt Cooke 2.0 looked like a player thinking a lot. You could see him easing off hits and making sure to keep arms down and not to contact the head. For one night, so far so good. Cooke also proved his value as a player with his goal and showed he's more than just a suspension waiting to happen.
- I wouldn't say put Eric Tangradi's face on a milk carton, because I get the feeling we'll know exactly where to find Tangradi when training camp breaks. And that would be riding buses in Northeastern PA. Nick Johnson was making plays. Richard Park is a machine. Joe Vitale brings energy and can win faceoffs. Tangradi's not really standing out yet, and he's running out of time, better get it in gear.
- Our first look in game at Steve MacIntyre. Let's just say it's a good thing fighting is still legal. Not the best skating, puck skills or sense out there. But we all already knew that's not why he finds NHL work. Also wanna bet if the 8:45 of ice time Big Mac received will be his season high?
- Native Pittsburgher Brandon Saad was disappointed to drop into the 2nd round of the 2011 NHL draft, and he showed some flashes of talent tonight. Easy to see he's very shifty and is good with the puck. The youngster has a lot more developing to do to round out his game, but he definitely demonstrated why he was regarded as a top prospect at one point.
Second game in as many night, second win in as many nights. Some youngsters got some time to showcase themselves, and the coaches got an opportunity to evaluate the individual performances. And again, looked like no major injuries, so it's another successful night.