The first period was one of the most dominanting performances by one professional team against another. Shots were 20-3 Penguins. Faceoffs were 60%-40% Penguins. Hits were 13-9 Penguins. Goals, most importantly, were 2-0 Penguins. Everyone was in on the act, even Eric Godard was getting chances. Tyler Kennedy corralled a puck from Jay McKee and wired one home to open the scoring. Right after that Andy McDonald high-sticked Brooks Orpik and Evgeni Malkin kept with it and buried the second goal.
Second period was more of the same, with Ruslan Fedotenko wiring a wrister on the power-play followed by Matt Cooke with a great tip off a Kris Letang shot. Pittsburgh applied more and more pressure but St. Louis would get one back off some great effort by T.J. Oshie to keep a play going. The Blues in general had a great shift after a power-play, keeping Letang out there for a 2:29 shift. Paul Kariya would tip in Erik Johnson's point shot for the goal.
The last stanza saw the Blues steady themselves. They trotted out Ty Conklin to the net as something of a relief to Chris Mason. He wasn't bad -- far from it -- but he was shelled and deserved a relief. Especially to shock the rest of the team into a better effort. It worked, sort of, as St. Louis stopped the bleeding, save Alex Goligoski getting a pass from Sidney Crosby and regaining the final victory margin of four goals.
- Mentioned above, the Pens got caught on a long shift after a power-play that resulted in St. Louis' goal. Sergei Gonchar wasn't quite on the ice when the goal was scored (he got off just before), but he was out there for a 3 minute and 11 second shift. He wouldn't return, with an "undisclosed injury" according to Versus. Someone say when it's safe to breath again.
- The #1 and #2 best defensive pairs have to play Crosby/Malkin, so that means Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy are going to see 3rd pairing defensemen. And, for the most part, 3rd pairing defensemen just aren't going to hold under the constant pressure, cycling, physical play and shots those three can create. Tonight the best 3rd line in the league was a combined 2 goals, 2 assists, +4, 9 shots on goal and 8 hits.
- Team balance, part II: 13 of 18 Penguin skaters recorded a point. The only names not on the scoresheet are the ones you wouldn't expect to be (Godard, Orpik, Mike Rupp, etc).
- As much as team balance is a great thing, "your best players have to be your best players" as Barry Melrose likes to say. In addition to his goal, Malkin had an amazing 12 shots on goal, 3 hits, 2 blocked shots. His faceoff percentage remains low but an all-around awesome game from the reigning scoring champ.
- Jay McKee had four shots on goal all season up to this point. Had four shots tonight. Think he was pressing for a goal against his old team? Don't fear, with four blocked shots and the usual stellar play in his own end, it wasn't like he abandoned his job to do seek his revenge.
- Marc-Andre Fleury was never really tested for prolonged periods, and the only one that beat him was a worm-burner of a great low shot tipped from just a few feet out. The fact there was about three Penguins in his field of vision couldn't have helped. Still, nothing else got by and Fleury got 22 of 23 to raise his save percentage to .926. His record is bumped to a perfect 8-0-0 and Fleury's got a GAA of 2.00 or under in five of his last five starts.
The Pensblog twitter is reporting Sergei Gonchar's injury as a broken wrist. If so, that would be tough to deal with losing the #1 defenseman on the team again. Hate to follow that up with a "but", however Goose got a goal tonight, Letang had two assists and Martin Skoula is a NHL caliber defenseman that hasn't even been able to crack the lineup yet. We'll have to wait until tomorrow for the official diagnosis from the Pens', but it doesn't look good.