Assistant coach Gary Agnew gives his three impressions from the bench of the Penguins’ 3-1 win against the Arizona Coyotes.
1. Fleury’s performance throughout the game, but specifically in the first period where we didn’t get off to a very good start and he had to keep us in there. He made some huge saves. Kudos to him for that.
2. When Ehrhoff went out after the warmup, the five defensemen logged a lot of ice time, a lot of minutes, kept the game in front of them, didn’t give up too many chances. They did a really solid job there.
3. A couple of forwards, Lapierre, Winnik had really solid games for us. So we had good depth from our forwards.
Sam Kasan gives his three impressions from the press box.
1. Poor Start
The No. 1 culprit of the Pens’ four-game losing streak was their poor starts. They turned on the jets during the second half of the games and played extremely well, but it was too little too late. They all spoke about getting off to a better start; even head coach Mike Johnston said the team’s start against Arizona would be key. Well, it happened again. The Coyotes scored a shorthanded goal to open the scoring just 94 seconds into the game. Pittsburgh registered just three shots in a lackluster opening period. However, they were able to turn it around.
2. Shots, Shots, Shots
I asked Kris Letang after the contest against Dallas what the Pens needed to do to create more offense. He told me that they needed to shoot more, shoot everything, “even if it isn’t a quality scoring chance.” The Pens didn’t seem to get the memo in the first period against the Coyotes, but after the intermission, they came out firing early, late, and in between. They put up 21 shots in the middle frame and it resulted in two goals (though one was more just being in the right place for a fluky score). A perfect example of good things happening from shooting more came from Letang himself. Off of an offensive zone faceoff win, Letang took a slap shot on a bouncing puck that was tipped by Daniel Winnik and found its way into the net.
3. Stepping Up
Speaking of Letang, the Pens really needed an extraordinary effort from him against the Coyotes. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff was a late scratch and the team played the entire 60-minute contest with only five blueliners. That meant the entire D corps had to shoulder a heavy load, but it was Letang playing the role of Atlas. He skated a season-high 31:09 in the contest and was difference maker at even-strength, on the power play and shorthanded. He finished the game with four shots and three hits.