What started off as a sloppy game for the Penguins ended as a wild and crazy 5-on-3 penalty kill for the final minute and a half to preserve a 3-2 win in Carolina over the Hurricanes.
Let’s just fast forward to the end of the game with the Penguins up 3-2 and two and a half minutes left the Penguins take a penalty for too many men on the ice (best penalty in hockey). OK, nothing terrible, sure you don’t want be on the penalty kill but it could be a lot worse. Then Pascal Dupuis takes a penalty for holding because Eric Staal decides to try to win a gold in diving. Then Matt Cooke gets two minutes for tripping the aforementioned Staal. Bad times. What do the Penguins do? Throw a block party. With Jordan Staal already off the ice after getting hit in the face with the puck and tow of its best PK guys in the box all the Penguins do is put on a clinic killing off a couple huge penalties and getting two points in regulation. The Canes even pulled the goalie to make it a 6-on-3 for the last minute and they still couldn’t get anything going. What a gutty performance.
While the Penguins stars were largely held in check and kept off the scoreboard (for the most part) but that didn’t mean there wasn’t any offense in the game. If there is something great about this Penguins team it’s that they are scary deep. Tonight they got three goals scored by Craig Adams, Arron Asham and Pascal Dupuis. Crosby, Malkin and Staal were still playing some great two way hockey but when you can get second and third level production like that you are going to win a lot of games. Dupuis has been a monster this year with eight goals already and Adams chipped in an assist for a two point night. Just unreal stuff from third and fourth line guys.
Brent Johnson got his first start in like, forever, and was the first star of the game according to TRBB. He wasn’t named a star by the media at the RBC Center and I have no idea why. He made 32 saves on the night including 12 in the first period when the Penguins were grossly outplayed. He also made some big time saves in the third and it was a huge confidence booster for him after struggling for much of the season. Just a great performance.
Overall the Penguins dominated play after playing a not so hot first period. They were cycling the puck at will in the second and third period and got a pair of huge goals in the third period along with having ANOTHER goal taken away by the officials. Just a great way to respond, obviously you don’t ever want to play bad for a full 20 minutes but when you can bounce back and play another good 40 minutes.
The Penguins were a little better in the faceoff circle but still not great. I talked a few nights ago about them getting dominated in the faceoff circle but they picked it up a little m ore but it still wasn’t great. They won 24-of-56 faceoffs but only had one player that won more than half of their attempts. Like I said I am not totally worried about this but it was good to see them take a step into the right direction. Over the years they have been a pretty good faceoff team so hopefully they are just getting back into the groove.
I thought Simone Dupres and Robert Bortuzzo continued to play some pretty good hockey. Dupres is only in his second big league game but he looked much better tonight and much more confident in the plays he was making. With the unknowns of Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek means that these two might have to play with the big club more than we thought so it is good to see them fitting in and playing some good hockey.
You know who is pretty quiet? Paul Martin haters. There were a lot of people all over Martin a little while ago after a slump but over the past week and a half he has played some really good hockey. I would love to see those haters come out and talk about maybe they are too busy eating their words. If you think Martin hasn’t been playing some good hockey then you haven’t been watching the Penguins over the past couple of weeks. He played a team high 27:50 tonight with Brooks Orpik playing 26:46. Huge minutes from the two players that need to eat up huge minutes. Great job by those two tonight.
Penguins are back home on Monday against the Bruins. Going to be a great game.