After one of the worst outings in the season in a largely lifeless 6-2 thumping at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres, the Pittsburgh Penguins opened a three-game homestand with a convincing and complete win over the New York Rangers 2-0 on Tuesday night. The offense dominated possession of the puck, the defense (minus injured Brooks Orpik) came together for a solid effort and Marc-Andre Fleury did the rest making 27 saves. A very complete team effort and a satisfying win for the Pens against the conference leading Rangers.
Some more thoughts on the game:
- What a pass into space by Kris Letang to setup Evgeni Malkin for the game's first goal one minute into the second frame. Letang knew Geno would have room behind the defense if he could get the biscuit up to him and the defender made a perfect pass off the wall where Malkin could scoop in up and stalk in on Henrik Lundqvist. From there, Malkin made no mistakes going to his backhand and whipping a goal past the King.
- Steve Sullivan ended the scoring when he wisely whipped a slapper on net while the Pens were on a power play. It wasn't the hardest shot ever but it certainly was well-placed.
- Big night for the Penguins on defense. As mentioned top pair defenseman Orpik was out and they didn't miss a beat. Much maligned Paul Martin got shuffled up to the top pair with Letang and made the most of his opportunity, where for the first time in ages he seemingly made no mental or physical mistakes in terms of his positioning or play with the puck. Martin's 26:21 played is his personal most for a regulation game since December 8th.
- Letang saw the 26:21 of Martin and logged 28:41 of his own and Zbynek Michalek put in 23:11 of his own in one of his better games of the season. With a break in game action until Saturday afternoon, Dan Bylsma certainly wasn't afraid of riding his top guys for most of the night.
- Bylsma said he inserted Eric Tangradi in the lineup over Dustin Jeffrey for toughness. Tangradi's statline? 8 shifts 5:39 played, 2 hits, 1 blocked shot, 0 shots on goal. Toughness: added? (Or, more appro-pro- trade: showcased?)
- Fleury ties Tom Barrasso for first place in team history with his 22nd shutout of his career and this might have been one of the more non-descript ones ever (which isn't necessarily a bad thing). Though NYR was credited with 27 shots, not many seemed dangerous or required incredibly tremendous saves. So credit the defense for that, but definitely a nod to MAF as well for keeping the sheet clean tonight.
Scoreboard watching, the Flyers and Devils both won in OT tonight, so Pittsburgh won't gain any ground on their closest current rivals in the standings, but to take 2 points out of a game against the conference's top team is always a good thing. Now a few days off and we'll wait for 2 more afternoon matinee games.