Sam Kasan gives his three impressions from the press box of the Pens’ 5-1 win against the San Jose Sharks.
1. Stud Line
The Pens’ best line this season has been the trio of David Perron, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. They led the way again against the Sharks with Kessel (2G), Malkin and Perron combining for four goals and seven points. Kessel’s first goal was some puck luck as his attempted pass from below the goal line went off of Paul Martin’s skate and into the net. Malkin’s was pure talent. He was 1-on-1 against Martin, cut wide and pulled goalie Martin Jones out of the net, then swooped below the goal line and tucked in a wraparound for another incredible individual effort to score.
2. Secondary Scoring
Entering tonight’s game, Malkin had scored the last four goals for the Pens. It’s great that Pittsburgh’s star is stepping up, but he needed help from his teammates. The fourth line stepped up with some help. The work of Sergei Plotnikov, Matt Cullen and Eric Fehr was incredible. They had zone time, played physical, grinded down the Sharks, and were rewarded with a goal as Cullen banked a puck off of Jones’ pad and in the net from below the goal line.
“They were a real momentum line,” head coach Mike Johnston said. “They’ve been like that for us for about a month. They generate energy, momentum, they put the other team on their heels, they play a heavy game down low and they’re getting scoring chances.
“I believe they’re one of the better fourth lines that I’ve seen in the league. To call them a fourth line is probably unfair.”
3. Dumo’s World
With his play as of late, Brian Dumoulin has arguably been the Pens’ best defenseman. Once again he was going toe-to-toe with the Sharks’ top line, along with partner Ben Lovejoy. He logged 20:03 ice time and chipped in an assist. Dumoulin has been a pleasant surprise all season. His decision-making is excellent and his gap control has been on point. He’s quietly been the team’s best blueliner.
*The Pens hadn’t won a game in the city of San Jose in 18 years. Their last victory was a 5-2 win on Oct. 22, 1997. They snapped that streak tonight with a great team effort.
*Pascal Dupuis left the game after the second period because he “wasn’t feeling well.” There was no update from Johnston following the game. Perron took his place with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Plotnikov played with Malkin and Kessel.