The Penguins won their fourth game in a row and even though this was only the tenth game of the season they have also already beat each of the other teams in the division at least one time. I will take that. Now, tonight was another relatively solid game from the Pens and while they did get out to a three goal lead and ended up winning 4-2 the way that things unfolded in the game was less than ideal if you are actively trying to win hockey games.
First off, if you could give the first star of a game out to a unit the number one star would easily go to the Penguins penalty kill unit. In the first game against the Islanders they let in a pair of power play goals in pretty easy fashion but tonight was as far to the opposite as you can get. The Penguins did a pretty terrible job of staying out of the penalty box but the penalty kill unit was up to the task as it killed all seven of the Islanders power plays and was probably the single reason that the Penguins won the hockey game. Eight different players had four or more minutes on the penalty kill led by Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik who each had 8:36 of shorthanded ice time on the game. Not really sure what more you can say about that pairing. Shutdown city. The Penguins blocked 16 shots on the game and many of those came on the penalty kill. It was a complete balls out effort by those PK guys and Marc Andre Fleury and while it is never fun to have your team on the PK for almost a whole period of hockey it is nice to know that they are going to shut the power play down. In a six minute span of the second period the Penguins took three penalties and killed them all. Just outstanding.
Since you can't really give out stars of the game to a group so if you are going to give it to one player then that would have to be Fleury. As I look at the box score after the game I notice that he didn't receive any of the stars and that is just really a crime. Not that it at all matters because he was truly great in the game but because he deserved it. He made 32 stops on the night and while the PK unit was outstanding he was part of that and he made some huge saves throughout the night to allow the Penguins to crack the scoreboard and build a solid lead. He did give up two goals in a fairly short amount of time but I probably only put one of those goals on him. Just a great effort. No idea if he will go on Thursday but the Penguins have three games between Thursday and Sunday so to have him and Tomas Vokoun both playing good hockey is a huge plus.
The Penguins got some nice secondary scoring again and that is starting to really fall into place after a slow start. Simon Despres and Brandon Sutter scored the second and third goals to push the Penguins to a 3-0 lead and while the Islanders made it close late the lead they padded was a little too much to overcome.
James Neal scored his sixth goal of the season from Sidney Crosby on the power play. Ho hum. After getting dominated on the power play in the first contest this season the Penguins cracked the scoreboard in the first six seconds of the first power play so it really set a nice tone for the Penguins. This was about as easy of a goal as it comes. Crosby took the puck from the half wall and found Neal in front and he was WIDE open.
Tyler Kennedy was pretty good tonight after a few bad games. Good to see.
The Penguins are now 7-3-0 on the season and while most other teams have a game in hand the Penguins are sitting near the top of the league. The Rangers lost tonight. They are a mess. The Devils won but have a game in hand on the Pens and only trail by a point. The two games they will play against each other this weekend are pretty big ones I would say.
Not much else to say. Nice to get another regulation win which is how the Penguins have been handling their wins so far this season. Regulation wins are a top tier tie breaker and you want to have as many regulation wins as possible. Six of their first seven wins have come in regulation so that is good.