Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis gives his three impressions from the management booth of the Penguins’ 4-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
1. Marc-Andre was really solid in the first (period) and gave us a chance to find our legs in the second and the third.
2. It was nice to see the Bry(i)ans, not spelled the same way, getting their first NHL goals.
3. Bobby Farnham is entertaining to watch.
Michelle Crechiolo gives her three takeaways from the press box.
1. The Penguins have been powerless with the man-advantage for this last stretch of games, converting just two of 27 opportunities in their last nine games. However, their penalty kill has been picking up the special teams offensive slack. The Pens now have shorthanded goals in back-to-back games with Brandon Sutter’s tally tonight. They’re not necessarily playing overly aggressive and making risky plays looking for offense. They’re just making smart decisions when opportunities present themselves.
“I think you still want to be aggressive,” Sutter said. “You want to get up-ice pressure. Even though your job is to kill off the penalty, that’s first and foremost, but when you get a chance to go, you can go. We don’t want to get too carried away with that either. I think you want to be smart and just take advantage of opportunities.”
2. Overall, Sutter was a beast tonight. He’s stepped up and done all the right things, especially defensively, with Sidney Crosby out the last three games, but didn’t get rewarded on the scoresheet until tonight – when he snapped an 11-game goalless streak. But he didn’t just put the puck in the back of the net; he also kept Steven Stamkos from doing so. Penguins head coach Mike Johnston took full advantage of having the last change at home and sent him over the boards every single time the Lightning sniper was on the ice, and Sutter excelled in that role – limiting Stamkos to just one shot in the game.
“Playing him head-to-head, that was the first time we’ve gone with a hard match and I thought the team responded well to it, Sutter responded well to it,” Johnston said. “He’s not afraid to play that shutdown role, but I bet you tonight he had about three really good scoring chances as well. So I think his offensive upside is still going to continue to grow as he gets more confidence in that role, and that’s what we need as a team. We need him to really push his numbers offensively, because defensively, he’s going to be rock solid.”
3. Steve Downie also stepped up with a big game tonight. He finished with a goal, an assist, six hits and just generally brought a lot of energy to the ice in Pittsburgh’s third game in four nights. That’s exactly the kind of performance the Pens need from him. He’s played on a line with agitating winger Bobby Farnham the last couple of games, and the two of them have just been absolute wrecking balls out there. They’ve provided a big boost to a depleted Pens team that’s missing a lot of big-name guys, and they’re a blast to watch out there.
“’Farns’ is awesome,” Downie grinned. “He works real hard out there. He’s always skating, he’s always finishing hits. I’m having a lot of fun with him.”