After missing 20 games to a broken wrist, it sure didn't take Blake Comeau any time to get back into the game for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In just his first shift back, Comeau got a puck behind the net and made a great pass back to Kris Letang at the point. Letang gunned a shot intentionally wide and the rebound dropped right in front of Patric Hornqvist who was able to swat the puck past Petr Mrazek.
Then, just three shifts later, Hornqvist won a battle deep in the zone after a bad Red Wings drop pass, and found Comeau all alone in the slot. Comeau made no mistake rifling it by Mrazek to make it 2-0.
From there, the rest of the team would step up. The Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - David Perron line was dominant and forcing the issue all night long, Perron would get his 9th goal in just his 16th game as a Penguin when he cleaned up a juicy rebound forced after Maxim Lapierre won a board battle to make it 3-0 good guys.
When Rob Scuderi gets involved offensively, the rout is officially on. And it was a few minutes later in the second period when Scuderi sent in a point shot that Nick Spaling deflected in for a 4-0 lead.
Sadly, the Wings would break Marc-Andre Fleury 's personal shutout streak at 165:06 on their top ranked power play later in the second period after a sick passing play got the puck into a dangerous zone and then directed it on net. Novel concept, that.
The third period was pretty much cruise control. The Red Wings put Jimmy Howard into the game, juggled some lines and came out strong in the 3rd, but couldn't beat Fleury and a lot of time ticked away as teams skated end-to-end freely. No power plays or dynamite chances to speak of, and with the Pens having to travel to Ottawa for a game tomorrow night, the blowout allowed them to roll their lines, manage the minutes of the top guys and be able to get ready for the next one.
Before that though, a few more thoughts on this game:
- Evgeni Malkin was held off the scoreboard but was a tour de force early, wheeling around seemingly with ease. At one point he put Niklas Kronwall on his hip, spun around the net and flung the puck at the cage blindly on his backhand, shades of Carolina playoffs 2009. Unfortunately this time it hit the cross-bar, denying a possible goal of the year candidate. Other than that, Malkin looked to have an extra jump in his step playing with 2 good wingers for the first time in a long time.
- Crosby was dealing it too. He passed a little too much on the power play (as seemingly is his trend) but it's worth it for the looks he can give. Crosby fed one for Perron in prime scoring area that he got a good shot on, just didn't put it in the net. Still, you'll take that 10 times out of 10.
- After a series of controversial healthy scratches, Beau Bennett was inserted into the lineup after all on the 3rd line. His official stat-line: 1 shot attempted (that Detroit blocked ) and 1 giveaway. Not terribly inspiring, so I suppose it remains to be seen if the finer details in his game tonight impressed the coaching staff enough to keep his spot in the lineup for tomorrow night.
- And let's hope it did, as Zach Sill was made the ever so rare healthy scratch. More of this please. Or better yet just waive him and acquire a better player.
- The Derrick Pouliot - Robert Bortuzzo tandem got hemmed in the zone early and often. This experiment isn't working. The Pens seem loathe to break up Paul Martin / Letang as well as Simon Despres / Scuderi - and for good reason. Both those pairs function wonderfully together. But that other pairing is an important one, and not one where Pittsburgh's getting a lot of good from.
- After I openly wondered if Comeau could keep up his production, he comes right out the gates with 1g, 1a in the first period no less. Seems like Hornqvist (1g, 1a) is starting to find his groove too after returning to the lineup after the All-Star break.
- Both teams had 3 days off coming into this game, the Pens really looked like it, the Red Wings did not. It's all about starts in the NHL and Pittsburgh definitely did well to come out so strong and never look back.
- As Natasha mentioned earlier today in Pens Points, on Max Talbot's 31st birthday today, only fitting that the Pens down the Wings. 6/13/2009, never forget, you guys.
- For coverage from the Detroit side of things and what they felt about the game, be sure to visit our friends at Winging It in Motown.
Pens are right back at it tomorrow with a game in Ottawa (who were idle tonight). It'll be tough sledding and a difficult task to get a result then, but for now, it's nice to see a convincing win against one of the league's hottest teams of late, as Detroit (9-1-0 in last 10 entering tonight) certainly were.