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Crosby-less and Malkin-less Pens Hang on to Beat Canes 3-2

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Canes Blog: Canes Country

For the first time this season the Penguins found a way to win without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the lineup.  At first it looked kind of easy, but by the end it was all a matter of running out the clock and hanging on to an early lead. 

As we've seen a few times already this season, that process is often easier than it looks.

Dustin Jeffrey was guaranteed some decent ice time over the past few games given the injuries ot the top guns and he definitely made the most of it Saturday night when he registered Pittsburgh's first goal in the second period.  Not only was it nice to see on a personal level for Jeffrey, but it also certified that no matter the outcome of the game, the Penguins were not going to be shut out for the second consecutive game.

Given the limited firepower that the Pens have to work with, it was nice to see a guy like Jeffrey come up with the first goal.  It was equally nice to see Mark Letestu pick up his 10th of the year in the third period to put the Pens up 2-0 with about 18 minutes left to play.  Those are the guys that are expected to have opportunities and there's no question that each did what was expected of him against the Canes.  So when Pascal Dupuis picked up his 10th goal on a shorthanded chance shortly after, it was easy to think the Pens were capable of pulling out the win, possibly even the shutout.

But you know how it goes - there's always the risk that Pittsburgh won't play a full 60 minutes.  Thankfully, they played just enough (or perhaps managed to block the right shot at the right time) to at least skate away with two points after Sergei Samsonov and Eric Staal brought the Canes within one with less than a minute remaining.  Despite some obvious pressure at the end, Marc-Andre Fleury; more notably the defense, stood strong and cleared the puck to avoid the Carolina onslaught.

It wasn't pretty but not much will be with the two-headed monster on the shelf.  If winning without Crosby in the lineup gave the rest of the team a boost of confidence, hopefully this one did the same without Geno in the lineup as well.  The Islanders await Tuesday night.  A few more days of rest coming off a win feels much better than doing so after a loss.

Baby steps.