Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box of the Penguins' 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
1. MAGNIFICENT MALKIN
I can’t say enough about Evgeni Malkin, who’s stepped up and put the team on his back when they needed him most after a rough start to the season. He’s been the key factor in the Pens' two straight victories, as he was absolutely dominant on Thursday – opening the scoring to give his team a much-needed lead that led to a much-needed 2-0 win over Ottawa – and the center repeated that performance here tonight. He’s just so dominant every time he steps on the ice and when Malkin is going like that, it’s so fun to see. As head coach Mike Johnston said, “You know when Geno’s skating, that he’s on his game. When he’s got that energy and he’s skating, he’s got that jump in his stride and tonight was one of those nights. You knew right from the very beginning, you could see it on that goal how he just came with a head of steam. He had a lot of energy tonight, and that’s when he’s playing his best, when he’s playing with energy.”
2. FLEURY A ROCK
The Pens certainly weren’t as strong defensively in this game as they were in Thursday’s shutout of Ottawa, as they surrendered a lot of scoring chances to the Leafs in all situations (including the power play, where Toronto had way too many shorthanded opportunities while the Pens are still without a goal on the man-advantage through the first five games of the season). There were far too many breakdowns, from turnovers to positioning in the defensive zone. But Marc-Andre Fleury bailed them out every time. Even though the Pens netminder was put in a number of tough situations where he had to come up with incredible saves, he got it done.
It wasn’t a full 60 minutes, but all the Pens needed was 39 seconds as that’s how far apart Malkin and Olli Maatta’s goals were in the first period. After that, they took their foot off the gas and let Toronto get back in the game, and overall, this just wasn’t the greatest performance from the Pens, But you know what? At the end of the day, they got it done. After losing the first three games of the season, all of the guys in the locker room said they had to find ways to win. So even though it wasn’t pretty, I give them credit for doing that tonight against Toronto.