It took 4 games, but the Pittsburgh Penguins are in the win column after a 2-0 blanking of the Ottawa Senators. Good night all around- the home team carried the play in shots, scored the only goals and played a much more cohesive and complete effort.
In the first shift of the second period Evgeni Malkin opened the scoring. Patric Hornqvist poked a puck up the wall for him. Notice how Malkin draws the puck in to his body just prior to shooting, which changes the angle for goalie Craig Anderson. That plus the quick release and hard shot beat Anderson.
Malkin goal pic.twitter.com/xiQSOUcz1d— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 16, 2015
Then it was time for 18-year-old Daniel Sprong to notch his first career NHL goal off an assist from 38-year old Matt Cullen .
Sprong goal pic.twitter.com/1v10WLQEor— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 16, 2015
And how about that world class goal celebration by Sprong.
There is nothing quite like it. pic.twitter.com/xh7912nZIo— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 16, 2015
A few more thoughts:
- Some interesting lineup decisions. First Bryan Rust was recalled (despite Scott Wilson off to a much better start in the AHL) and Sergei Plotnikov was a scratch. No official word at press time if Plotnikov is hurt or if that was a coaching decision. #8 defenseman Tim Erixon was sent to Wilkes-Barre to make the money work.
- They also finally made Rob Scuderi a healthy scratch in favor of getting Adam Clendening into his NHL debut. Unsurprisingly the Pens got trapped in their own end a lot less. And for the first game, they didn't allow a PK goal against. No reason Scuds should be out of the press box anytime soon.
- 2 of the 3 d-pairs were also adjusted; Clendening was paired with Olli Maatta (and the two looked good together in limited time in the preseason) and Brian Dumoulin played with Ben Lovejoy. Early results: pretty good. No one really is ever going to praise Lovejoy, because when he stands out it's for bad reasons, but he's been pretty steady this season, and Dumoulin needs that.
- One thing still not working is the power play; the Pens now have their 5 top offensive players together, but the goals haven't come yet, including 1:21 of 5v3 time early in the 3rd period.
- Bobby Farnham got punched about 10 times in a fight trying to stand up for a teammate who took a fairly routine, clean, legal hip check. 10 Pittsburgh main-stream media members got aroused and a million eyeballs on twitter rolled.
- The Pens had a great, effective night in blocking shots. Officially credited with 16 - led by Ian Cole getting 5. Hornqvist had a huge one that he gave his body up to be drilled by a slapshot with 9 minutes left.
- Sprong got a modest career high of ice-time 13:07, had 4 shots on goal and looked dangerous. When that kid gets the puck on his stick, good things happen. It was nice to see the Pens play him late into the 3rd period too. He's not going to be an 18 minute a night guy at this stage in his career, but if he keeps playing well, he's going to keep pushing them to play him more like he has been all fall.
- The Pens only played 6 minutes short-handed and they really leaned on Kris Letang (4:22) and Ian Cole (4:17). Not sure how sustainable that will be in the long-haul, but hey it worked tonight. The top 2 PK forwards (Nick Bonino at 3:42 and Cullen at 2:42) were also heavily relied upon.
- David Perron with 7 shots on goal (and 9 attempts) you can tell he's really playing a passionate brand of hockey right now, trying to break through and get on the scoreboard. Hasn't happened yet, but nice to see the effort.
- Marc-Andre Fleury didn't have to stand on his head for this shutout, with only 21 saves, but it goes without saying anytime an NHL goalie records a shutout he had a great night. Luckily Fleury's been very steady so far early in this season as the team in front of him tries to figure it all out as the new faces get used to the team/system.