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3 Impressions: Pens 3, Sharks 2 (SO)

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

Assistant coach Rick Tocchet gives his three impressions from the bench of the Pens’ 3-2 shootout win against the San Jose Sharks.

1. The penalty kill for me is the biggest key. Any time you kill that many penalties, especially a four-minute in overtime, it’s a gut check. The penalty kill and Gary Agnew did a hell of a job.
2. Playing with five D is tough. I thought the guys did a nice job. That’s a lot of ice time for five guys. San Jose is a heavy, hard team to play. They held up really well.
3. The shootout. You have to give the guys credit. ‘Sid’ (Sidney Crosby) and Perron scoring and the ‘Flower’ (Marc-Andre Fleury) coming up with two big saves. We finished them off after we killed off (the penalty).

Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the media level.

On Thursday in Carolina, the Pens had what Evgeni Malkin said was their worst game of the whole season – capping off a stretch of six losses in seven games in a tough couple of weeks for the team. The Pens came back to Pittsburgh, regrouped, and responded by winning back-to-back home games over the weekend and grabbing four much-needed points in the standings. They finished strong in their 3-2 win yesterday afternoon over Arizona and built off that tonight against San Jose as they came out with a tremendous first period. They swarmed all over the Sharks and scored a pair of goals within a 56-second span in the opening 8-plus minutes. And while the Pens let them get back in the game once they got their legs underneath them, at the end of the night they were able to win the game in the shootout. That’s huge.

In a close, tight game, the Pens’ penalty kill was the difference. The team asked too much of their penalty killers late in this game with the score tied against the NHL’s sixth-ranked unit, but they stepped up and got the job done anyway. First they to kill off a Nick Spaling offensive zone penalty with less than four minutes left in regulation, and then they spent four out of five overtime minutes at a 4-on-3 disadvantage when Patric Hornqvist drew blood with a high stick. It was an incredibly difficult situation, but the Pens’ PKers went out and executed. Rob Scuderi and Dan Winnik were especially strong, each logging a staggering 7:21 shorthanded minutes.

David Perron has incredible hands, which we saw in the shootout when he scored the game-deciding goal. But he’s also such a competitor, as he wasn’t even originally supposed to play in the game because of illness. He had to miss yesterday’s contest against Arizona when he started vomiting 20 minutes before warmups, and while he tried to play through it, he just couldn’t. He went home and got a lot of rest, napping from 4 p.m. to about 9:30 p.m. and then sleeping through the night. While Perron felt better when he woke up this morning, he still wasn’t 100 percent but wanted to be there for his teammates and didn’t want to let them down. And while it wasn’t his strongest performance, the compete and the battle level was obvious. He was leaving it out on the ice every shift. To see him do that and then step up big in the shootout was fantastic to watch.

“I was really surprised (he played),” head coach Mike Johnston said. "He sent me a note this afternoon and I said come in and see me when you get to the rink and he said 'I can play. I know we're going to be shorthanded.' He said 'I'll take five minutes, three minutes, whatever you can give me, but I think I can contribute tonight.' I said you better be able to if we're going to dress you. You have to be able to contribute in some way. He said he could. I thought he was okay in the game, which was to be expected, but as it happened, we really needed him. He's a big shootout guy for us and he almost scored right there at the end of the game. He had three chances in the game and he had the shootout. I give him a lot of credit for coming in. He stayed home this morning, coming in and saying I know we're going to be shorthanded. Let me play. Let me just do whatever I can to help out. That was great on his part.”
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