If you only watched the first period and a half of this hockey game you probably came away thinkg that the Penguins lost a game on home ice to a pretty decent, young, Colorado Avalanche team. If you only watched half of this game then you missed out on some pretty ridiculous hockey and an unreal third period en route to a 6-3 win for the Penguins who now hold the top mark in the East.
As I watch the game I typically go through in my head and figure out the flow of my post games and sometimes take notes and stuff like that if there is something I don’t want to forget. During the first period of the game I didn’t need to do that as it was pretty much the worst period of the season for the Penguins and it just had that feel that it was going to be a blow out and one of those games where if the Penguins got a delayed power play they would probably put it in their own net.
The only bright spot of the first period, and really the first 30 minutes, was Jordan Staal. He accounted for a goal in the first period, his ninth, to cut the lead to 2-1 for the Avs but the Penguins gave the lead right back with some poor defense and maybe the sickest goal of the year by Matt Duchene. It was bad times to be on the ice for the Penguins and Disco wasn’t happy.
Nothing changed in the second period as the Avs were able to dictate play and the sloppy passing and puckhandling were doing the Penguins in. To be honest I have no idea how the Penguins were only down 3-1 but they were. Things all of a sudden took a change and it was almost like the Penguins flipped a switched as Pascal Dupuis scored at the 11:01 mark in the second and it was all Penguins from there.
The Penguins went into the third down 3-2 and if this is last year you could guarantee that the Penguins weren’t coming back to win. This is a whole different year as the Penguins scored four goals and didn’t allow a single one. The first one of the period came at the 1:12 mark from Brooks Orpik (!!!!) and was followed by a sick goal from Evgeni Malkin at the 4:45 mark before James Neal put the game pretty much out of reach at the 7:17 mark. Kris Letang rounded out the scoring with a goal at the 10:30 mark on a sick move and slick backhand and made Semyon Varlomov wish he was playing with the Capitals defense in front of him.
Honestly I don’t even know how the Avalanche got a shot in the third period as the Penguins were setting up a small colony in the Avs zone. They ended up finishing with three shots but they were badly outplayed by the Penguins in the third period. Like I said before the Pens played a horrible first half of the game and were lucky to even be in the game but as soon as they found that groove they proved why they are tops in the East and the Avalanche are only a .500 team. Just really unreal how the night developed.
A lot is going to be talked about how the offense won this game and to be quite honest they did, but there is another player on the ice you need to look at for this win. After giving up three first period goals it would be easy for Marc Andre Fleury to pack it in and chalk this one up to a bad night for the defense and a bad night for himself, but he didn’t. After that first period he stopped all 15 shots he faced which included 12 in the second period when the Penguins still didn’t find its stride. While he won’t be a star of the game or even talked about that much having a goaltender that is going to keep it close enough for your offense to come alive is huge and it was a nice bounce back after a slow start for MAF.
Evgeni Malkin’s goal was just sick. Just unreal sick and it gave the Penguins the lead.
Although Geno’s goal was sick it probably wasn’t the best goal of the night. Remember that goal I talked about Duchene scored? Yea, that goal was better.
While the Penguins won really going away it was a pretty sloppy hockey game from the defensive end. While MAF could have made a few saves on the goals his defenseman really left him out to dry. Paul Martin continues to struggle and I have no idea what is going on with him. I think he is a good defenseman and I think he will come out of it but it just sucks to watch him struggle like this because he is better than that. Kris Letang was victimized a few times early but was able to turn it around and make some nice defensive plays late but this needs to get cleaned up. You can’t be giving up three spots in the first period all the time. This hasn’t been an all the time thing so I am not too worried but the defense has been a little meh recently.
If the Penguins did go down tonight it would have been because of turning the puck over and just overall sloppiness. They were only credited for six giveaways but they had way more than that. Couple that with six takeaways from the Avs and that isn’t going to bode well. In the first especially they weren’t handling passes and were crisp, just lucky they woke up.
Jordan Staal was an absolute beast tonight from start to finish. He finished with a goal and an assist in over 18 minutes of play and was probably the only guy on the ice for the Penguins that showed up for the full 60 minutes.
This was really just a fun game to watch. It was frustrating as hell in the first to watch this team just be so sloppy with the puck and disinterested but we saw what they are really capable of when they get going. It is scary to think what they might be like when Sidney Crosby is back in the full swing of things.