When you're Stanley Cup champs and in a 2-0 hole with just 20 minutes to play and 2100 miles from home, you can never say never. (Especially when the team you're playing is in 15th place in their conference and playing a goalie that has 4 games of NHL experience).
Regardless, a win is a win is a win. The Pittsburgh Penguins only put a 20 minute effort in tonight, but it was enough to beat the Edmonton Oilers and enough to go up to 3-1-0 on the five game roadie.
Scoring was started when Stephane "Alex Burrows' best friend" Auger and the rest of the refs awarded Edmonton two penalties on a single whistle. The Pens killed almost the entirety of the full 2:00 before Andrew Cogliano one-timed a cross-ice pass from Patrick O'Sullivan at Marc-Andre Fleury. Amazingly (considering the 5-on-3), Fleury was up for the challenge, but unfortunately he bounced the rebound right to Cogliano who made no mistakes on the second chance to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead in the second period.
Later in the 2nd, Edmonton would again convert when Lubomir Visnovsky took a point shot that beat Fleury for a 2-0 edge. Pittsburgh looked lifeless and had no answers for the defense and Devan Dubnyk for the first 40 minutes.
Hockey games are 60 minutes though, and Jordan Staal and the Pens came to life. 3:18 into the period J-Staal fed Tyler Kennedy who fired a wrister that somehow eluded Dubnyk. Staal's second to next shift Matt Cooke collected his rebound on the power-play for the ever so rare PP finish. About three minutes later on Staal's next shift he cycled out of the corner and whipped the puck on net and it deflected in off Pascal Dupuis.
- In 4 shifts, 3 primary assists for Jordan Staal. THAT'S why you pay a third line center $4 million dollars a season (on a night when Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin don't show up on the score sheet).
- Speaking of the "slumping" Mr. Malkin, he led all players on both sides with 7 shots on net. Malkin was galloping around the ice, creating chances for himself, dishing it off wonderfully and doing everything but scoring. He's gonna break through, and it's gonna happen soon. If you've got a problem with Geno, I refer you to this photoshop. What have you done for me lately, Mr. Smythe and Ross.
- Without scoring Malkin was named the 3rd star of the night, on the road, which shows just how good the local media in Edmonton thought he was.
- The Oilers won the war in the faceoff circle 59-41%, but Sidney Crosby won his battles (57% on 21 draws).
- Crosby was quiet otherwise, breaking his four game goal-scoring streak.
- It's a shame it takes the 6th bullet point to mention Marc-Andre Fleury. He held the Pens in, including on a breakaway by Dustin Penner. Fleury hasn't given up an even-strength goal in his last two games. Just another 33 save on 35 shot effort for the Stanley Cup winning goalie.
- The Penguins as a team recorded 11 hits tonight and had 19 last night in Calgary. One gets the sense they really miss the physical presence of Brooks Orpik back there.
- Bill Guerin failed to score tonight against his former team, but he launched 6 shots at the net (3 on target). The team's oldest player has been the most consistent winger over the course of the whole season.
At the end of the day, really the defending champs (aside from maybe Fleury) only showed up for 20 minutes. But against the 15th place team in the West, they got away with it. Jordan Staal stole the show and put things into a whole 'nother gear, generating all the offense needed to fairly easily brush aside a two goal deficit in the final period. You can't get away with these habits all the time, but on a cold winter's night in Edmonton, sometimes you can.
3-1-0 on the daunting five game roadie, and without any obvious injuries the Pens will get a chance to catch their collective breath before meeting "Bobby Lou" and the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday with the opportunity to finish off a very successful swing away from home.