The Penguins had another rough start to a game falling behind 2-0 to the Islanders but went ahead to score six of the next seven goals to grab a win against the Islanders for the fourth time this season. Something pretty interesting about the win tonight is that in the Penguins four wins against the Islanders they beat four different goaltenders. For a team that was supposed to turn a corner this year the Islanders haven’t done much of anything. Just a really bad team and the Penguins did what they needed to do against them.
It was a really nice bounce back performance from the Penguins from a really depleted lineup. The Pens learned before the game that they were going to be missing Jordan Staal from the lineup which would equal 12 roster players out for the game and almost $23M worth of payroll not on the ice. Not really good when half of your team is AHL call ups.
Things weren’t very good for the Penguins as this was one of the few games that Marc Andre Fleury wasn’t on his game. His misplayed a puck pretty badly about four minutes into the game and got beat two more times in a little over a period of play. He looked shaky and wasn’t getting his angles right and you knew the offense had to be there to pick him up. Luckily for the flower the offense did pick him up and he actually picked his game up for a win. One thing that MAF doesn’t get a lot of credit for is holding the fort down. Sure he was pretty shaky in the first period and gave up a few goals but after he gave up the final one (2:54 into the second period) he was perfect. He gave his offense a chance and they came through. It wasn’t a great performance but he got the win.
It was really nice to see the Penguins bounce back after being down with such a depleted lineup. James Neal stepped up and played an outstanding game scoring two crucial goals. He scored the Penguins second goal with just 29 seconds remaining in the period to make it 2-2 on a sick feed from Evgeni Malkin and then he cleaned up a loose rebound and put it into an empty net almost nine minutes into the second period to tie the game at three. Neal now has a league leading nine power play goals and after having a horrendous end of the season and playoffs last year he really had been the best goal scoring option on the team that really needs it.
Evgeni Malkin has been up and down this season but really came out with his hair on fire tonight. He had two assists and was all over the ice. Maybe the most impressive thing about Malkin’s play tonight was that he stayed under control. I believe the Penguins were up by a goal, or tied, I forget which, and there was a puck stoppage in front of Islanders goaltender Al Montoya and an Islanders defenseman was trying to bait Geno into a retaliation penalty and Malkin just skated away. Most times he takes a push and a swing back and takes a penalty. Big time focus from Geno.
Another guy who has been outstanding has been Pascal Dupuis. Once thought of as a fourth line guy playing on the first line only because the Penguins had nobody else has scored nine goals and really become an offensive threat for this team. Tonight he scored the game winning goal and actually had to play center tonight. Unreal effort.
The defensive unit was pretty good tonight. Engelland came back and played a pretty good hockey game. Matt Niskanen picked up two assists and played 21+ minutes and Simon Duspres played another really good hockey game and has really played well since being called up.
Joe Vitale was outstanding with a beautiful feed to Steve Sullivan to set up the Penguins first goal and has been a sparkplug in the lineup this season. He doesn’t do any one things great, unless you could hustle, but he is a really solid all around player and the kind of guy that Disco loves to have in the lineup. Matt Cooke also continues to play great hockey as he had a goal tonight and now has more points this season (13) than penalty minutes (12) (thanks to @PensDeptoTFP for that stat).
I am the last guy that would be the “shooooooot” guy at the game or yelling at the TV but Steve Sullivan needs to get the puck on net a little bit more. He is a pretty good passer and has set up a lot of goals this season but he is passing up some prime scoring opportunities and for the type of player he is he needs to take those shots.
Can’t be mad, a good win over a team that they should beat. Wings on Tuesday.