Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box of the Penguins' 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
1. INCREDIBLE SEQUENCE
After Colorado got on the board first late in the 1st despite being outplayed in the period, the Pens responded few minutes into the 2nd with three goals in a span of 2:08 – and that sequence stood as the turning point of the game. The Pens did a tremendous job of just getting pucks and bodies to the net and going from there. That’s how all three of those goals were scored. This team sometimes has a bad habit of trying to get too fancy and make too many passes and plays, but tonight they had a shoot-first mentality and it worked. They didn’t let the Avs keep them to the outside – they battled and competed to break through their structure and continued to work once they were around the crease.
2. DEFENSIVE EFFORT
While the Pens did sit back late in the third and nearly let the Avs tie it up as they made a desperate final push, I thought overall, they were strong defensively -- and I have to give credit to Ben Lovejoy and Brian Dumoulin in particular, as they were matched up against the stacked line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan Mackinnon and Matt Duchene. While the Avs scored three goals, only one came at even-strength. The Pens managed the puck very well, especially through the neutral zone – an area they pointed out as one they had to be particularly careful in with Colorado’s transition game. That allowed them to gain the zone, where they did an excellent job of spending a lot of time down there grinding the Avs down, making them play defense and not letting them use their speed and skill to their advantage. Evgeni Malkin in particular was a beast possession-wise in their end.
3. POWERED UP
After scoring twice on the man-advantage in their 4-3 win over Minnesota on Tuesday, I thought the Pens’ power play looked phenomenal again tonight. It got a huge goal from Malkin and was strong during the other three opportunities. The Pens did a fantastic job of gaining the zone and setting up. Once there, the Avs are a rather passive team when it comes to penalty killing and that worked to the Pens’ advantage as they were able to move it around the zone. When they saw an opportunity to shoot, they took it. Overall, it was a big momentum booster throughout the game.