PITTSBURGH, PA - FEBRUARY 26: James Wisniewski #21 of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins race after a loose puck in the second period on February 26, 2012 at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
The start of the game had a very bland feel to it which you could attribute to the emotions exhibited in yesterday's game. The crowd was out it as well. Then it started to feel like "one of those games" when Rick Nash scored on a shorthanded breakaway. But true to Pens form, they found a way to regain some life in the most unorthodox fashion.
Brad Thiessen anchored the Pens in his NHL debut and earned his first NHL win, making some great saves early on. Solid game from him and he picked up the first star of the game. And as always, Evgeni Malkin is making a hobby of turning NHL defensemen into players from District 5.
More thoughts on the game:
- The Jackets have only 18 wins this season. That's five less than 29th place Carolina Hurricanes.
- Penalty kills have had a big place this weekend. The Pens scored a shorthanded goal yesterday and allowed one today. They have allowed eight shorthanded goals this season, third highest in the NHL. At the same time, the Pens have scored nine shorthanded goals, good for third highest in the NHL.
- Malkin's power play goal in the second gave the Pens at least one man advantage tally in 10 of the last 15 games. In that span, they are 13-for-43 (30.2%). Remember when the Pens power play was terrible?
- A Kris Letang goal was disallowed because Chris Kunitz interfered with Jackets goal Curtis Sanford. Whether you agreed with the call or not, the Pens got it back on the same power play and it started with a fantastic backcheck from a hustling Kunitz. Ironic? Or were the hockey gods speaking?
- Speaking of Kunitz, he now has 8 disallowed goals on the season.
- This season, the Pens have the Eastern Conference's best record against the West at 9-2-3.
- The Pens are now 9-1 in the last 10 home games. A great turnaround from when the Pens couldn't seem to buy a win at home last season.
- Malkin, Kunitz and James Neal have a combined 68 points in the 18 home games. This terror line has scored 50.9% (29-of-57) of the Pens' goals since Dec. 13.
- Letang was a force today. Other than scoring the game winner, he tied Jordan Staal for five shots, second most in the game after Malkin who had seven. Letang also lead both teams with 26:29 minutes of ice time and recorded four blocked shots, tied for the most in the game.
- Things could get interesting with Thiessen being up in Pittsburgh. Could this be the last we see of Brent Johnson? Thiessen, who has been impressive at the AHL level, could very well take his place.
- Also interesting to note that Matt Niskanen only registered 12:57 of ice time. Let's hope it's exhaustion from his huge minutes yesterday and nothing more.