Assistant coach Gary Agnew gives his three impressions of the Penguins’ 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings at CONSOL Energy Center.
1. We asked our defensemen to create some offense. I thought they did that. We had four guys pick up assists on goals. That was really solid.
2. The Malkin line with Comeau looked really solid. Generated some offense and battled hard.
3. Once again Fleury was outstanding when called upon. Third period they had a great push in the first 10 minutes and he made some huge saves and kept everybody calm.
Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box.
1. When a player misses as much time as Blake Comeau did, timing is always a concern in his first game back. But it didn’t appear to be an issue whatsoever for the Pens winger, as he got an assist on his first shift of the game, scored a goal on his fourth, and overall, showed just how much he was missed the 20 games he was out. Comeau pumped much-needed energy into his line with Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist, which Hornqvist said had been “kind of slow lately.” They were the Pens’ strongest all night. Even though the three of them hadn’t played together for seven weeks, the chemistry was still there as they just kept finding and reading/reacting off of each other perfectly. Every time they were on the ice, they were a threat with the way they possessed the puck and moved around the offensive zone – Malkin especially.
2. Having Comeau back meant that the Pens had a healthy forward lineup for the first time in a long time – maybe all season. I asked Hornqvist about that this morning, and he said, “Now there’s no more excuses here. It’s up to us. We know we have a good team and now we just have to show everyone that.” Well, they certainly did just that. Four different forwards scored a goal and all four lines were going the entire night.
3. The Pens’ first period was terrific – arguably their best one of the season. “I think we won the game right there,” Hornqvist said. The Pens played the entirety of it in Detroit’s end. They put the Wings on their heels right from the start and just kept coming at them in waves, keeping them pinned and helpless. In particular, the Pens did a tremendous job of finding soft spots and open seams around the net and getting the puck to guys there, who had time and space to get off shots. For the Pens to come out like that after the way they played in their last game on Saturday in Vancouver, a 5-0 loss, was important.
“We talked about that before the game,” Hornqvist said. “They play defensively like we do. We double up in the corners and they do the same thing. So if you get the defensemen on the back, you just try to find that open seam in the middle and the D back door and it really worked for us tonight."