The best way to beat an inferior team is to never let them feel like they have a chance. That must be what the Edmonton Oliers were thinking after their 2-0 loss to the PIttsburgh Penguins.
Sure, 2-0 doesn't sound that bad, and the score was even tied after 20 minutes and only 2-0 after a last second, second period goal by ex-Oiler David Perron.
But then again the Oilers only had 5 first period shots and only added 7 more in the second period, none of which seemed all that dangerous for Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Pens, on the other hand, dominated territorially early. They fired 24 shots in the first two periods at poor Viktor Fasth . They kind of coasted their way home in the final 20, which was fairly risky since a 2 goal lead can easily be erased, but it wasn't to be.
A nice, quiet workman-like win for a team that needed it.There's not many easy wins in the NHL- it's such a competitive league with a lot of talent spread around. Tonight sure was an easy one.
A few more thoughts on the game:
- Evgeni Malkin celebrated his return to the lineup by scoring the game's first goal. It was created with a strong net-crashing effort by Patric Hornqvist and new linemate (and also ex-Oiler) Mark Arcobello making a nice little pass for Malkin to slam home. Malkin and Hornqvist haven't had a lot of game time together due to various injuries (and PH72 playing with Crosby some early) so it was nice to see them get a chance to log some time and generate chances together.
- Similarly, the Perron - Crosby - Chris Kunitz line looked great almost every time they touched the ice. Whether it was creative passes in the offensive zone, speed through neutral and even forwards digging back hard on back-checks, the trio were really effective in every aspect possible.
- Kris Letang lost his streak of straight goals assisted at 7 once it was ruled he was the 3rd man to touch the puck on the first goal, but that didn't seem to effect him, getting another assist on the second goal. What a season.
- A name to watch is Iiro Pakarinen. Aside from having a last name that sounds like the full name of the starting Nashville goalie, the young Finn got a chance to take some shifts on Edmonton's top line tonight with Taylor Hall missing the game with an apparent injury. Pakarinen, at 23 years old and only 6 career NHL games was more noticeable (in a good way) than most of his teammates.
- You think any of the Oilers, in a quiet moment, might have thought- "oh man, Perron's playing with Sid, even little Arcobello is playing with Geno....and I'm still stuck here?"
- For all the doom and gloom, the win tonight moves Pittsburgh back to first place in the Metropolitan Division. (Though NYI and NYR both do have games in hand and the possibility to pass the Pens should they take advantage of them). The division lead will likely change hands many times again, but hey, nice to point out for all that seems uneasy, Pittsburgh's still right there.
- Fairly penalty free game until a dust-up with about 3 minutes left. The Oilers only got one PP (and generated 3 shots on goal and 1 other that hit a post) and Pittsburgh got zippy. Again, from the bright-side, at least the power play didn't struggle tonight.
- Fleury adds to a career high with his 7th shutout of the season (and current league high). He didn't have to be too great and certainly wasn't tested a ton, but nice to see his focus sharp when the play did come his way. First shutout in 17 starts too, after 4 in the first 14 games of the year (and 6 in 24).
Great way to start a road trip, the Pens travel to Calgary and gear up for a 9 PM (Eastern) start time on Friday night.