Early in the game, the Colorado Avalanche were outshooting the Pittsburgh Penguins in what was a pretty even game. Then in the span of 1:22, two guys better known for using their fists as weapons rather than scoring goals both struck and the Pens were off to the races. Arron Asham opened the scoring with a big slapper goal (and some sly interference from Craig Adams) that eluded Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Then Jordan Staal made a sublime pass to Deryk Engelland who was in alone on the net and let the puck click off his blade, top shelf, like he knew what he was doing.
In the second period Paul Martin kept his head up and made a great pass to James Neal. Neal took the shot but it clicked around the posts straight to Evgeni Malkin in front of the net. Some shoddy defense by Jan Hejda let Malkin's stick go free. Not wise. Then after taking a questionable tripping penalty, the hockey gods rewarded Richard Park by giving him a breakaway when he stepped back on the ice. 4-0 Pens after two periods.
Steve Sullivan finished the night with the empty-netter off a pass from Martin.
Some more thoughts on the game-
- Rough game for former first overall pick Erik Johnson. On the game's first shift Johnson went awkwardly into the end-boards with Joe Vitale as they chased the puck and stayed down for a minute. He wouldn't miss much game time, but he never looked comfortable, being on the ice for three of the Pens goals and looking dumb in taking a penalty when the Avs were on the power play and Jordan Staal was going to blow by EJ for a short-handed break.
- Old friend Steve Downie was up to his tricks. After a while, Engelland just had enough and started pummeling Clownie after too many close calls and confrontations with Fleury.
- Arron Asham was an assist short of the Gordie How hat-trick after his fight with Cody McLeod. The Pens were up 2-0 at the time of the fight and AA45 has had some concussion symptoms lately, was fighting really appropriate for the situation?
- How impressive is Gabriel Landeskog? The high draft pick from 2011 was all over the ice and demonstrated some strong skating, puck control and drive. He's defintiely a player to keep an eye on in the coming years as a rising star.
- Fairly quiet but incredibly effective 4 for 4 night killing penalties for the Pens, in which they only yielded four shots on goal in the 7:53 that Colorado had with the man-advantage. The PK unit continues to be a strength.
- Seven game scoring streak for Steve Sullivan in which he's tallied 11 in that span and fought off a minor injury. Aren't old guys supposed to wear down this time of year?
- 33 shots, 34 saves for Fleury, another very solid performance. Colorado didn't generate too many very dangerous chances but MAF was there. And how about the Avs pulling the goalie with a three goal defecit. Fleury really wanted that empty netter but he couldn't quite get the chance to pull the trigger on a shot attempt. One of these days...
Another game and win for the Pens, who continue to play very well against Western Conference opponents. They'll get another chance to continue this trend when Paul Bissonnette and the Phoenix Coyotes come to Pittsburgh for a game on Monday.