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The knock on the Pittsburgh Penguins has been that they haven't gotten any scoring from their wingers. Not the case today as the winger supplied three goals and three assists en route to a 6-3 win over the Dallas Stars.
The Penguins did well today in exposing the Stars through cross-ice passes. Kris Letang had two assists, Sergei Gonchar had two as well and Jordan Leopold and Alex Goligoski also got an assists, a lot of those through long, stretching passes that exposed the Dallas defense.
After Dallas jumped out to an early 3-1 lead, the Penguins took over and put their stamp on the game and rallied back with five straight goals. Chris Kunitz on a perfect shot after a great pass from Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis again making things happen with his 15th of the season, Crosby bounced one in off of Trevor Daley, Crosby scored short-handed on a two-on-one break with Jordan Staal and Alexei Ponikarovsky collected a bouncing puck on the PP and buried a shot.
- Kari Lehtonen, in his first start of the season (coming off back surgery), did not look sharp. He looked a step slow on several of the goals that Pittsburgh scored. You have to credit the Pens' quick puck movement and shots, but one gets the feeling that a quicker goalie could have had at least two or three of those goals.
- Crosby, who looked at times a little worn down on Thursday night, looked like a renewed man somehow on Saturday afternoon. 2 goals (now leading the league with 44 overall), 1 assist, a +2, 5 shots on goal (4 more shots blocked), 2 giveaways and 2 takeaways and a decent night in the faceoff circle (54% on 26 draws).
- Evgeni Malkin saw his 15 game consecutive point streak end. 15 games in a row with a point ties a record for Russian players in the NHL, which Malkin set in 2007.
- The new guy Alexei Ponikarovsky fit in well. He was in front of the net on the power play, he used his size effecitively to screen the goalie and he threw his weight around in the corners. The knock on him seems to be consistency in effort, but for a first impression with the Penguins he was, well, impressive. His goal was a beauty to chip a bouncing puck perfectly to the top of the net, and he had 6 total shots on the night.
- The television cameras caught coach Dan Bylsma talking into Poni's ear, clearly telling him what to do, where to go and how he wanted the player to play. It wasn't a harsh exchange and it seemed to be well received and a natural occurrence of joining a new team. Unlike in times of the past, the lines of communication are open.
- Speaking of new guys, Jordan Leopold was tops on the team today in plus/minus (if you put much faith in that) at a +3, he had an assist and is beginning to mesh well with his partner and fellow Golden Gopher Alex Goligoski. If they keep it up that's one hell of a third pairing.
- The Penguins PK went 6 for 6 and scored a goal courtesy of Crosby. That was the truly the unit that changed the outcome of the game and tipped the balance in favor of the Pens.
- Marc-Andre Fleury surrendered three goals early and looked off to another shaky outing, but he settled in quickly and it's tough to fault him too much. Mike Ribeiro beat Sergei Gonchar head on and somehow collected his own rebound and scored a beaut. Brooks Orpik poorly played a 2-on-1 and Ribeiro fed Brandon Segal for a slam dunk that MAF had no chance on. Brad Richards fed a pretty cross-ice pass to Loui Eriksson for a one-timer from point blank after Gonchar couldn't control Eriksson.
- That's two goals that Gonchar looked bad on. Everyone's entitled to a bad day here and there, but for your #1 defenseman to be responsible for multiple goals against...Well, it's never a good thing. Gonch did create some offense to redeem himself, but in the long run you hope he'll be able to buckle down and play nothing against.
- For cross-conference rivals that don't see each other at all, the Stars and Penguins sure weren't friendly. There was a lot of hitting and a lot of post-whistle activity, including two fights. That's somewhat unusual for the circumstances and considering there's nothing in the way of a notable history. Both teams wanted to win and showed no fear of each other.
- A quick bounce back for the Pens, who have another day-game tomorrow against the Boston Bruins (who also won this afternoon). Pittsburgh is 4-0-3 in their last seven games and perfect since the Olympic break.
Firepower was on display today for Pittsburgh. Though they dropped behind a talented team early, there was no sign of panic and they quickly regrouped and fill the net with seemingly ease and came away with the deserved victory. It'll be a quick turnaround to tomorrow afternoon, but if the standard holds of out-shooting the opponent, out-working the opponent, it'll likely continue that they'll out-score the opponent.