Penguins assistant coach Gary Agnew gives you his three impressions from the bench of the Penguins’ 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils.
1. Whenever you pitch a shutout you have to talk about the goaltender. I thought (Fleury) made some great saves, was so steady tonight, in control of his rebounds, moved the puck well, communicated with the defense well on breakouts. A real solid game by him.
2. I thought the penalty kill was outstanding again. We had some young guys in there trying it with Megna, Sill, Ebbett, lots of guys getting some chances to kill penalties. They did a great job.
3. Malkin gets the big one. He was a man on a mission out there. It was nice to see him get the goal and he played hard.
Michelle Crechiolo gives her three takeaways from the press box.
1. Well, this game certainly felt a lot more like your typical low-scoring Penguins-Devils matchup than the first meeting between the teams did, where they combined for 11 goals in an 8-3 Pittsburgh win. Both teams struggled to create offense through the first 30-plus minutes. And when they did get quality chances, neither team could capitalize through two periods. It started to open up towards the end of the second, but man, before that there wasn’t a lot going on – especially in the first 20 minutes, as the clubs combined for just 11 shots in the first. It felt like the Pens were passing up a lot of opportunities to get pucks on net, and the ones they did take were getting blocked. It didn’t help that both teams were dealing with a lot of injuries, and both clubs lost players during the course of the game.
“We talked to our team before the game (that) it might be one of those games where we might have to just will it out in the third period and it was one of those games,” head coach Mike Johnston said. “It turned out that’s that the way the script was tonight and we hung in there with it, we stuck with it, we guarded against frustration for the most part and I thought we did a good job in a real tough game.”
2. From his first shift of the game, Robert Bortuzzo started getting in Jaromir Jagr’s face as the two of them shoved each other in front of the Penguins net. And it just kept going from there. Bortuzzo was all over Jagr whenever the two of them shared the ice, doing everything he could to agitate and irritate the ageless player. “I think that’s just part of my game,” Bortuzzo said. “We have some high-end skill on our team that sometimes takes some abuse out there. Obviously they’re targeted, so I feel like if we can dole out a little bit of that going the other way, that’s what we’re doing. Just going hard in-between the whistles, I think.” With just over two minutes left in the second period, Bortuzzo lined up Jagr behind the Penguins net and sent him flying. Jagr left the game and did not return.
Bortuzzo said he felt the hit was clean, saying, “I thought the puck was there. Kept my shoulder down. Felt like I hit him in the chest. Obviously unfortunate he left the game, but just playing hard.”
3. I’ll touch on a few other guys who had great games – Jayson Megna being one of them. On two separate occasions in the second period – one of them being shorthanded – he used his speed to power around a Devils defender and go in alone on Schneider. With Chris Kunitz being a last-minute scratch, Megna was thrust onto Evgeni Malkin’s left wing and had to adjust on the fly, but did an excellent job – assisting on the Penguins’ lone goal in the game. Brandon Sutter had a lot of jump to his game as well, especially on the PK. And Christian Ehrhoff made a couple of phenomenal defensive plays on odd-man rushes.