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Welcome Home Kovy: Alex(ei) Kovalev Wins It in a Shootout

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Leafs Blog: Pension Plan Puppets

Funny how the recent string of injuries has brought one of two things - either the Pens try and win a low-scoring game or they give up on defense altogether and try and simply out-score the opponent.  Neither is exactly in moderation, and you can't necessarily say the team comes into any game committed to one or the other, but at least in this circumstance against the Leafs, Pittsburgh was prepared to open up the flood gates on the offensive side.

Even though he's yet to return to the home ice in Pittsburgh, I think it's safe to say that this was Alex Kovalev's welcome-home game.

More after the jump...

The Pens are getting healthier and the results are starting to show.  Despite suggested rumors that Sidney Crosby may in fact be hanging them up for the remainder of the season, the guys who are returning to the lineup are making an impact right away.  In only his first game back, Mark Letestu bounced back with a power-play goal in the second to tie the game at two.  It was his first goal since Jan. 22, one game before he missed a month with a knee injury.

And then there's Alex "Don't Call Me Alexei" Kovalev, who in just his second game with the Pens, scored the team's first goal of the night in the first period and was later the only guy to light the lamp in the shootout and seal the deal for the Pens.  It was his first goal in a Pens uniform since Feb. 8, 2003, when he notched two goals and two assists in a 5-2 win over the Bruins.  He was traded back to the Rangers two days later.

Dustin Jeffrey is another guy who picked up a goal, his first since coming back from a two-week lay off on Friday against the Hurricanes. 

Perhaps one of the biggest highlights of the night is in knowing that all five goals were scored by five different Pens, as Max Talbot and Mike Rupp each tallied one of their own before all was said and done.  I suspect we'll see a lot more of this moving forward, as there is likely going to be a permanent void for that superstar guy who can just take over a game. 

Deep down, part of me feels this makes the Pens even more dangerous.  Defenses can focus on shutting down guys like Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, but when teams can't identify THE guy to shut down, the Pens become a different force all on their own.

It'd be nice, moving forward though, if the defense (mainly Marc-Andre Fleury) would consider limiting some goals down the line.  It wasn't the best of weekends for him but at least he got out of it with one win.

Rematch against the Leafs Wednesday at 7:00.