The best way to get over a tough loss is to get right back out on to the ice the next night and take care of business. That is exactly what the Penguins did. After getting beat down in Ottawa last night the Penguins bounced back with a 5-2 win over New Jersey to even the season series with the Devils at three games each.
After dropping three straight games to the Devils earlier in the year the Penguins bounced back strong with a pair of 5-2 wins in a little over a week’s time. While the Penguins didn’t start off so hot they used timely scoring and never trailed the Devils in the game. The defensive unit was pretty much like slices of swiss cheese and were giving up mucho chances but unlike the other night Marc Andre Fleury was there to make some flashy saves and keep the Penguins in the game.
In a pretty rare feat three different Penguins netted their 23rd goals of the season. Chris Kunitz scored the first followed by Jordan Staal, also in the first period, while Pascal Dupuis scored his 23rd in the second period. Pretty remarkable for a number of reasons. First reason is that it’s pretty cool that all of them scored that goal on the same night. No idea what the chances of that are but it can’t be too likely. The other is that those are some players that you might not expect to put up big goal totals, let alone all in the same year. Couple that with James Neal and Evgeni Malkin and you have five guys with 20 or more goals and you have Matt Cooke with 19 goals and could be the sixth player to net 20 goals or more in the same season. That is impressive.
I know last night wasn’t all Brad Thiessen’s fault and the defense really hung him out to dry but tonight is why you have so many people saying that Marc Andre Fleury should get Vezina consideration. Last night when the defense broke down and the Penguins needed a huge save from their goalie they didn’t get it. Tonight they got that save three or four different times. I know Thiessen is never going to be Fleury but I think that kind of illustrates the importance of MAF and how much he means to this team. Impressive performance tonight. I know that MAF isn’t going to throw up the gaudy stats but game in and game out he gives the team a chance to win by rarely giving up more than two or three goals a night. That is big time goaltending.
Sidney Crosby is pretty close to being back. Crosby had his best offensive night since coming back and while he only had two points he was all over the ice and found the back of the net on a sick individual play.
Sid was also 63% (12-of-19) from the faceoff dot and played almost 20 minutes of action. Oh yea, he also got crushed into the boards and bounced right back up and got into the play. Sid has been getting back into the flow a little bit slower than the last time, which is to be expected, but he seems to be finally turning it back around. If this is what we can expect from him in the offensive end it’s going to be scary for opposing goaltenders. It feels weird to say this but I think I needed to see Sid get crushed one time and have him bounce back up. I think everyone needed that.
Kris Letang had a pretty tough game. He just didn’t seem all together tonight and was beaten up pretty bad on a couple of hits. He took a semi shot to the face and went off for a few shifts but was able to come back. He then was pushed into the boards on pretty dirty play by Ryan Carter and is pretty lucky that he didn’t have a broken ankle or leg. Lucky for the Penguins everything was all right.
Jordan Staal was all over the ice tonight. He had a pretty amazing game although you might not really hear about it because he is just so consistent that if flies under the radar. He is a stabilizing force on the on the penalty kill and his goal scoring prowess has really been an asset this year despite missing a bunch of games with a knee injury earlier in the season. Not too bad to have someone like Staal as your third best center.
The Penguins have been on a scoring spree since Crosby came back and even the game before that. Since playing Boston on March 11th the Penguins have scored five or more goals six times in eight games. The only game the Penguins didn’t score five or more goals were both losses. I would say that is being productive and while they have two losses (one in overtime) in that eight game span I will take those kind of statistics any day of the week.
The Penguins are back on it on Tuesday when they take on the Islanders in the first game of a home-and-home while the Rangers take on Minnesota on Tuesday and Winnipeg on Wednesday. Buckle up.