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Sarge helps the Pens surge, Pittsburgh takes down Tampa 4-1

-Lightning vs Penguins coverage- -Lightning vs Penguins recap-  -SB Nation Tampa blog Raw Charge-

The first game after a road trip generally can be tricky for teams.  The Penguins broke out their blue jerseys and kept their blue collar work ethic to get up 2-0 and extend it 4-1 for a win over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

  • The power play final broke through with a goal in the first period after a lengthy drought.  They got 5 shots on goal before Evgeni Malkin faked another shot and pulled three Tampa players (and goalie Antero Niittymaki) out of position before finding Bill Guerin.  Guerin had a slam dunk goal.  Easy money.
  • The second goal came towards the end of the period, Sidney Crosby won an offensive faceoff cleanly back to Brooks Orpik.  Orpik passed it over to his partner Sergei Gonchar who wired it towards the net.  Niittymaki wasn't in good position and the shot found the back of the net. 2-0.
  • Youngster Steven Stamkos put the Lightning on the board by batting a Martin St. Louis rebound out of the mid-air on a Tampa power play for their only goal.  As Bob Errey said, it was like "picking flies out of the air with chopsticks".  A sweet goal by Stamkos, but the only time Tampa would end up piercing Marc-Andre Fleury.
  • Less than two minutes after the Stamkos goal the Penguins were again buzzing.  Evgeni Malkin was flying around, taking passes off his skates and setting his teammates up.  Ruslan Fedotenko found Gonchar near the blueline.  Sarge sent a measured wrister that Pascal Dupuis got a piece of, and Malkin obstructed Niittymaki's view enough to have it find the back of the net.  3-1 Pens and any momentum Tampa had to build on got completely erased.
  • The Penguins got an extended 5 on 3 power play towards the tail end of the second period.  And even though they didn't strike, they set up and Guerin, Crosby, Malkin and Alex Goligoski all got quality shots/chances.  Niittymaki made some great saves and the Lightning held on.
  • Noted goal scorer Mike Rupp (???) took a second to settle the puck and wristed it for the game's final goal.  Crosby made the play by stealing the puck behind the net from Steve Downie and backhanding a perfect pass to Rupp.  Big Mike now has goals in two straight games, for what it's worth. 4-1 Pens.
  • Jay McKee was credited with 7 blocked shots, Tampa Bay as a team had 11.  McKee currently leads all NHL players with 28 blocked shots on the season.
  • Credit with this great stat: the Penguins are 20-0-2 under head coach Dan Bylsma when they score the first goal.  Simply unreal, they get a lead and they pile on the road to victory.  That's pretty much what happened again tonight.
  • Note to Mr. Steve Yzerman: Marc-Andre Fleury is 7-0-0, .922 save percentage and a goals against average in the 2.20 range.  You want to win, right Stevie Y?
  • Now the question, who gets their name under the puck the Penguins will keep in the lockeroom for the win?  How about a vote for the first star of the game, Sergei Gonchar. A goal, an assist, a game high +3 rating and a game high 25:28 of icetime.  Sarge was awesome in this game.

At 7-1-0, Pittsburgh is almost off to a franchise best start (hangover what?).  A pretty lax week is on tap for the Pens, as they'll welcome the St. Louis Blues to town on Tuesday before seeing the Florida Panthers at home on Friday.  Like clockwork the Pens keep on tickin' and keep on winnin'.  The power play again continues to frustrate, but Pittsburgh racked up 15 shots with the man advantage and had a lot of great zone time and passes around.  They might not have found the net (except once), but they are doing a lot of things right, and with all the skill they have one has to think that will change sooner or later.