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Post-cap: Penguins skate away from Ducks 5-1

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In late night action, the Pittsburgh Penguins get their California road trip off to a successful start with a 5-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Kris Letang tallied a goal and an assist in his first game back from injury, and Matt Murray stopped 32/33 in his first game of the year

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back, Kris Letang and Matt Murray. Two important players come back from injury and immediately make positive contributions for the Pittsburgh Penguins in their 5-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

Pregame

-- Big meanie Tom Sestito draws into the lineup at the expense of Tom Kuhnhackl (healthy scratch).

-- Anaheim somewhat surprisingly announces that Ryan Getzlaf and Nick Ritchie will be out with injury

1st period

The Evgeni Malkin - Phil Kessel line starts to show some dividends with a nice goal to open the scoring. As the tweet below says, it's Malkin's 4th goal in the past 3 games. A hot Geno is a wonderful thing.

Matt Cullen celebrates his 40th birthday in style and makes the game 2-0 later in the first when big rig Sestito goes style over substance with the pass.

After Chris Kunitz heads to the penalty box, Cam Fowler scores his second goal against the Penguins this season with a point shot that somehow eludes all the traffic in front and finds its way past Murray.

Pens outshot 13-6 in the 1st, but up 2-1 where it counts.

2nd period

The post (and Trevor Daley) are kind to Murray on a scramble

Sestito and Jared Boll get into a scrap

Back to hockey, Pittsburgh later makes it 3-1, great to see Bryan Rust stick right in front of the net and a rebound from a Nick Bonino shot (shooting a rebound off a Letang shot) ends up with Rust who bats it past John Gibson. Rust got the better of one of the bigger, stronger, veteran defensemen around in Kevin Bieksa right there.

Overall now, shots are 27-20 Pittsburgh, and an astounding 21-7 in the second period.

3rd period

The Penguins top power play finally has all 5 of the first-unit guys for the first time this season and they strike when Letang gets his first goal of the season, redirecting in a Justin Schultz centering-pass/shot. (And true, Schultz isn't true top PP guy, but still)

Scott Wilson earns a penalty shot and is denied.

But the Penguins put a bow on this win with a pretty goal, Carl Hagelin to Sidney Crosby to Patric Hornqvist to the back of the net in no time at all.

Some thoughts

  • Combine World Series Game 7, the sleep monster and an early start today and I didn't see too much of this live so I'll reserve thoughts until after watching the DVR later today.
  • Nice to see Letang and Murray back and pick up in fine form, from the looks of it.
  • Can Hagelin-Crosby-Hornqvist be a thing, because I think I want that to be a thing.
  • Malkin-Kessel at their best on the highlight of their goal. Some think they might not be the best fit, since both love to skate the puck a lot and be the alpha of the line, which can't really be disputed. But both could have success playing off each other, lurking, getting open off-puck because the other will be able to find him with a great pass and generate a scoring chance (exactly what happened tonight). Time will tell if it works enough to keep rolling, but for now it looks worth investing some time early in the season to see how it goes.
  • Sestito is a polarizing player, but by hook or crook if he can make positive plays with the puck he's probably going to be playing more. Anaheim traditionally has one of the biggest teams in the league. (As is tonight's opponent in Los Angeles).

Good win for Pittsburgh, but one truthfully that they should have had. Anaheim played the night before (and played Gibson 2 straight times, which almost always results in a lot of goals against on the 2nd night for goalies in that situation) and had several key injuries. Pittsburgh was a more rested team and also a healthier one. Still, in the NHL it's tough to win and do it convincingly at that, so it's a positive to get the trip started off with a victory.