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3 Impressions: Pens 2, Sens 0

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

Colby Armstrong gives his three impressions from the press box of the Penguins' 2-0 win over the Ottawa Senators.

1. Marc-Andre Fleury made some big saves tonight and got the shutout. It was good to see him bounce back and get the win after the home opener.
2. Daniel Sprong was also very noticeable. Good for his confidence early in the season to get one. He was noticeable tonight shooting the puck and scoring a goal.
3. Speaking of scoring goals, the first goal of the game, Evgeni Malkin – Malkin was a beast tonight. He was next-level good and they need him to keep doing that. So he looked really, really good. He took the team on his back.

Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box.

1. A FULL 60
Now THESE are the Pens we’ve been waiting for. What an effort by this entire group, who I feel came together as a team tonight. Everybody – the forwards, defensemen and obviously, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury – stepped up and played the way they needed to, and as a result they dominated the Sens from start to finish. So many of the guys said in the locker room following their most recent loss on Tuesday vs. Montreal that they needed to play a full 60 minutes and be on from the first shift to the last, and that’s exactly what they did. They were all over the Sens, pinning them down in their end for lengthy stretches and wearing them down. Every single line was creating scoring chances. And even though they couldn’t find the back of the net in the first period despite all of their zone time and possession, they didn’t get discouraged. The Pens stuck with it and were rewarded 23 seconds into the second when Evgeni Malkin opened the scoring. They continued to press and create while also defending well throughout the rest of the night.

2. SPRONG’S A STUD
I can’t say it enough – Daniel Sprong is a stud. The kid stepped up and scored his first NHL goal at a crucial moment in an important game for his team. The Pens needed a win badly after losing their first three games of the season, and Sprong helped make that happen by giving his team a big 2-0 lead. It was such a gorgeous goal, too. He recognized the play that was unfolding and skated into the slot, where he received a pass from Matt Cullen. The 18-year-old then quickly let it fly with his incredible release and roofed it past Craig Anderson. (Side note: You know what else is great about Sprong? He LOVES to score goals. That seems like an obvious statement to make, but there’s just something about his celebrations – so much pure joy and excitement – that you love to see in a hockey player. Tonight, he threw himself into the boards he was so happy). Sprong got a chance to move up the depth chart from the fourth to the third line because of a few adjustments made by head coach Mike Johnston, and he made the most of his increased minutes. As much as I’d like to see what he could do in a top-six role with either Crosby or Malkin, I have to give him credit for finding a way to contribute offensively in a bottom-six role.

3. INTANGIBLES
The Pens talked a lot about finding another level of desperation and urgency, and that was in their game tonight. The energy and compete level was fantastic and they sustained that the entire night. Guys were winning battles all over the ice, both on the boards and for loose pucks. They were also willing to sacrifice the body, as I saw quite a few blocks – especially towards the end of the game. Ian Cole – who had a great night – contributed five, while Patric Hornqvist had two big ones late.

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