Welcome back for the first time in eight games Evgeni Malkin! Eric Fehr gets bumped by the lineup as it's a little tough to bump Josh Archibald and his 2 goals from last game.
Welcome back to the lineup, Geno! pic.twitter.com/rUpLe5Attz— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 14, 2017
Pittsburgh carries the better of the play, outshooting the Canucks 15-9 but Ryan Miller looks like the Ryan Miller of old, making several great saves.
Best chance of the period came with Sidney Crosby making a great cross-ice pass for Jake Guentzel , a bit of a tough angle but as a LH shot on the right side the stick "sees" a lot of empty net. Guenztel quickly gets a nice shot away but the arm of Miller is there to make an impressive save.
No score after 1
The Pens get on the board first, Olli Maatta gets a chance and steps up in the zone and fires a nice centering pass for Malkin. Gene is there to stop it with his skate and then tap it into the net with his stick. 1-0.
Shots end up 25-17 after 2 in favor of Pittsburgh. Matt Murray is called on to make a breakaway save late, and it's just a liiiitle bit concerning that for as good as the Pens have been, Vancouver is only a shot away from trying after 2.
Early in the period Guntzel and Crosby connect with a nice give-and-go and Guentzel has an empty net for his 6th goal of the season. 2-0 Pens.
As good as it Guentz. pic.twitter.com/WeZPvBr5vi— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 15, 2017
Malkin puts on a clinic for patience in creating another goal. He absolutely abuses poor Chris Tanev who has no chance on this play then Luca Sbisa comes in from no where only to embarrass himself, and Geno eventually passes over for Phil Kessel to slam home to make it 3-0.
Kessel goal pic.twitter.com/652CDCuXd5— nope (@myregularface) February 15, 2017
Matt Cullen (moonlighting this game as the H in the HBK line) gets one for the road in the dying minutes. 4-0.
All you need is
- Maatta was good in this one. Early in the second period he broke up a 2-on-1 with some authority, and was noticeable that shift getting back in the o-zone as well. The next shift out he had some space, took it and made the pass to Malkin for the game's first goal. The guy gets his share of grief but nice to see him make a couple of positive plays on this night. Need that here.
- The Crosby line with Kris Letang had a dominant o-zone shift for a minute plus in the second as well. They'd come as close as Miller making a shoulder save on a high Letang shot from scoring, but nice to see them control the play so much.
- It's interesting to watch that Justin Schultz has become "Malkin's Letang", in the sense the Pens often pair the two F-D combos (Sid-Letang, Geno-Schultz). And, arguably, those defensemen are the second best offensive weapon on the ice a lot of times. The team has long used 87-58 together a lot (not in strict 5-man units, but just as much as possible) now with Schultz playing so well (and so confident in stepping up in the play) it's a big advantage to have that type of RHD for Malkin as well.
- Speaking of chemistry growing, this is about the 3rd game for Crosby and Guentzel to play together and they're starting to connect on some scoring chances as well. Could be worth watching as time goes by. With Guentzel's offensive instincts and high hockey IQ, he's seemed from afar to be a good candidate for a Crosby-winger. Fun to see the experiment in action.
- 7 games off for Malkin had the big guy looking fresh, dangerous and focused all game long. Not nice to lose him for so long but he certainly didn't have any rust tonight.
- Pens improve to 62-0-0 since beginning of 2015-16 season when leading after 2 periods. One day this streak will end and games won't be over at 40 minutes, but that day is not today.
- The Penguins easily overwhelmed Vancouver tonight who didn't have Brandon Sutter or Bo Horvat (both injured) so they were lacking down the middle.
- 999 points for Sid after one tonight. Try as they may, it'll take one more game at least to hit the milestone.
- Murray had a quiet night, but still made 29 saves include 2 breakaways. Did what he had to and was strong in his 3rd shutout of the season.
Next game Thursday night against the J-E-T-S.