These are known as the "get right games."
The kind of game where everything goes your way, you completely dominate an opponent and almost everybody on the roster has a chance to fill up the score sheet and get their stat lines back on track. They are not only great on an individual level, they can also be a springboard for teams as a whole.
Hopefully for the Pittsburgh Penguins sake their 7-0 win over the New York Islanders can be exactly that. They simply could not have asked for a better start coming out of the holiday break. The win not only gave them two important points, it gave them two points against a team they are chasing in the standings and could have been a confidence boost for the whole team.
Everything was clicking, and nobody highlighted that more than defenseman Kris Letang. He played the game of his life -- and given his career that is no small accomplishment -- by recording six assists, including an NHL record five for a defenseman in a single period. He has been playing strong hockey all season but has not always had the numbers to offensively to back it up. A lot of that has been due to his change in role that has seen him take on a bigger penalty kill presence than a power play presence. But a six-point game certainly helps get things back on track for the old stat sheet.
Speaking of which, the same can be said for Evgeni Malkin's two goals. He entered the game in a bit of a goal scoring funk as the second line has seen its production be more miss than hit lately. But that changed with Malkin's back to back goals in the second period to give him 13 on the season. They were much needed goals and could be the start of him getting back on a roll.
Speaking of getting back on a roll, could this be the start of Rickard Rakell's breakout?
After being held without a goal all season, he has now scored in consecutive games and finished with a pair of points on Wednesday. Getting bumped up to the top line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel (who also scored two goals on Wednesday) might have been just what he needed. So far, the early returns are promising. As bad as he looked through the first two months, he is too good with too good of a track record in the NHL to not score.
It was not just the top-two lines generating the offense, either. They also received a pair of goals from the bottom-six, including one from Valterri Puustinen as was rewarded for his strong play in the NHL so far by scoring his first career goal. He also added an assist in the win to continue his strong showing.
Do not overlook what this game meant for starting goalie Tristan Jarry, either. He has had a great season so far but sat on the bench for the past three games following a tough start in Toronto. The Penguins did not need him to be great, but it still had to be a huge confidence boost for him to come back into the starting lineup and put another shutout on the stat sheet for himself.
Against any team and on any night would have been huge for the Penguins. But to do it against a divisional opponent, and one that you are trying to chase down and catch in the standings, and one that has given you fits for years is a fantastic night all around.
This week is a big opportunity for the Penguins to seriously gain some ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race. It is off to a great start. They have a chance to continue it with back to back games on Saturday and Sunday, including another game against these same Islanders in Pittsburgh. Let's see if they can build on it. Individually and as a team.