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Pride Fuels Pens

Emotion can be a fickle thing during the regular season but on back to back nights, Penguins displayed the pride needed to fuel two emotional victories.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It was a good thing Saturday night to see Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin emotionally invested into a hockey game.

Over the last few years, when things got tough, Crosby and Malkin got... hiding.

Crosby's intensity was quite evident as he was chewing out the officials for their whistle swallowing on a few occasions, twice slamming his stick against the boards and glass. He went full mouth-off mode with the officials after they assessed a roughing minor to Malkin even though both Derek Stepan and Marc Staal went after him for his legal check on Dan Girardi.

It just wasn't Crosby's mouth that was on fire last night, he put a hard hit on Girdardi, not a love tap. He was fighting through battles along the board, a few times driving hard to the net, even bumping into Henrik Lundqvist. Only negative for Crosby, he continues to pass up shots and now has gone eight games without scoring a goal.

As for Malkin, he was all over the ice scoring a goal and assist, laying that thunderous hit on Girardi, and a threat most of the game going right back at the Rangers.

Emotion is a part of the game, it will fuel the Penguins to greater things if done in the right manner. On this night, pride fueled the team to wild 3-2 victory.

Pick Your Poison

After we saw how the Rangers reacted with Malkin's hit on Girardi, maybe those who negatively reacted against Malkin on Friday night for his penalty might want to re-evaluate that stance.

Staal hit Crosby in the head a few times during last year's playoffs and because no one stood up for the captain, it was a sign this team lacked the togetherness and toughness to win a championship.

After the New York Rangers finished off the embarrassing Penguins series collapse, all the media and fans wanted to talk about beyond the no-show performance by Crosby was that no one went after Staal.

Fast forward to Friday night in Toronto with the Penguins holding onto a 2-1 lead with 2:14 left to play.

Maple Leafs defensemen Dion Phaneuf hits winger Patric Hornqvist up high, so it was no surprise to see Malkin immediately respond by going after Phaneuf. Malkin was assessed with four minutes for roughing and Phaneuf two minutes, giving the Leafs a two minute power play late in the game.

The reaction to criticize Malkin was immediate on Twitter.

Long-term, Malkin's teammates will respect him for going after Phaneuf and sticking up for a teammate. If Malkin can do it, then everyone should.

Head Coach Mike Johnston didn't seem to mind and accepted Malkin's reaction.

If you want a better team in April and May, then accept moments like Friday night as quite possibly, that emotion carried over Saturday night against the Rangers.

Beau Knows the Power Play

Johnston has used Brandon Sutter, Steve Downie, Pascal Dupuis, Paul Martin, and Christian Ehrhoff on the second power play unit but since returning from a knee injury, Beau Bennett doesn't seem to be getting much action.

It is understandable Assistant Coach Rick Tocchet vouched for Downie but placing the often-penalized winger over Bennett is a recipe for wasted power play time.

A Few Team Statistics Update

Prior to last night's game, Pens played the least amount of even-strength close minutes (324) in the NHL, though they lead the league in team goals scored (23) and goals plus/minus (+14). While leading by 1 goal at even-stregnth, Pens have a 61.22% Fenwick (1st) and 55.71% Corsi (1st).

The team's improving Penalty-Killing is now at 87.9%, fourth in the NHL.

AHL Prospect Update

Derrick Pouliot, 2 goals, 8 assists, 10 games played

Jean-Sebastien Dea, 4 goals, 7 assists, 14 games played

Bryan Rust, 7 goals, 3 assists, 16 games played