Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Penguins Game 66 Recap - Penguins 3, Leafs 2

Remember last year when the Penguins didn’t win a single game after trailing through two periods? I do. This year they now have seven wins after trailing through two periods and we still have 16 games left in the regular season after a 3-2 win over the Leafs at the CONSOL Energy Center. I guess it doesn’t hurt when you are playing against a team that has Jonas Gustavsson either.

Really not much went on in the game early. The Penguins dominated the first period of play but didn’t have anything to show for it. They outshot the Leafs 11-3 in the opening period but just couldn’t get anything done. The Leafs bounced back and played a pretty good second period and took a 2-0 lead with a Phil Kessel goal a minute into the period and then Carl Gunnarsson scored just over seven minutes into the period.

The Penguins looked really sloppy and disinterested in the second period and seemed to be on their heels the entire time but they got a huge boost when Pascal Dupuis put one past Gustavsson on a redirect of a Matt Niskanen shot to make it 2-1.

The third period was really all Penguins. Jordan Staal found the back of the net a minute and a half in the third period to tie the game. This goal was really due to Brooks Orpik who put a beautiful shot pass on Staal’s stick to lead to the goal. It was beautiful. A little less than three minutes later Dupuis scored his second of the night on a really soft goal for the eventual game winner. Gustavsson just couldn’t make the save on the Dupuis shot and that can really sum up the Leafs season.

Brad Thiessen got his second win in as many starts for the Penguins and was a little shaky early but came back with a really strong third period. He made a couple of big time saves when the Penguins were only up one and earned the victory. I thought Thiessen looked a little out of place early in the game as he was really aggressive in challenging shooters and sometimes getting himself out of position but this was the dude’s second career start so I will give him that pass. He also settled down big time late and made a Marc Andre Fleury like save while the Leafs were on the power play with about five minutes left. Solid job by Thiessen to get the win and give MAF that much needed rest.

What more can you say about Pascal Dupuis. This guy was an afterthought in the Hossa deal back in 2008 and it turns out that he was also a huge piece of that deal. With a pair of goals he now has 17 on the season and he also assisted on Staal goal so he had a hand in all three goals tonight. It is great to get 17 goals from a role player but when he can also play great on the PK and play great two way hockey you have a recipe for solid depth.

Speaking of Staal how money has he been. No idea what he is doing or eating on game day but he needs to do that before every game. Not only is he strong on the puck in the offensive zone but he is playing the best two way hockey on the team which says a lot considering that everyone on the Penguins plays some pretty good defensive hockey.

The power play struggled again going 0-for-4 and that leaves them without a power play goal since Kris Letang went out of the lineup. To be honest I don’t think the power play looked horrible, a few of the opportunities they had they were just missing chances but the flow looked really good. They weren’t totally crisp and that needs to be cleaned up. It might work against a team like the Leafs but teams like the Flyers or Bruins will make you pay if you can’t cash in at all with the man advantage.

The PK was a perfect 4-for-4. Ho hum.

Overall the Penguins didn’t play a great game but the Leafs didn’t want to put them away. The Penguins found a way to win. You aren’t always going to have you A game and when you can grind out a win when you aren’t at your best that is just as good. The Penguins magic number is now 18 and they are riding a seven game winning streak. Feels good.

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