Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box of the Penguins’ 6-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. SETTING THE TONE
Before the game, Mike Sullivan spoke about the team’s leadership. He said they were a good group, and trusted they were the right group to take the ball today and get it rolling after a disappointing loss to Calgary. He was right, as that’s exactly what Evgeni Malkin did. He’s arguably the most crucial member of Pittsburgh’s power play, and he made sure his unit converted their first chance to open the scoring in this game about halfway through the first period. After that, he added to his goal total late in the middle frame by capitalizing on a defensive miscue that put the nail in the proverbial coffin. That’s exactly what you want and need to see from one of your franchise centers. What’s been so impressive about Malkin this season is that he’s been the one to step up and put the team on his back after arguably their two worst defeats of the season, the other one being a 4-0 setback in this building back on Nov. 14. BONINO’S LINE
A couple of other guys deserve recognition for the part they played in this win, Nick Bonino in particular. His first season in Pittsburgh hasn’t always been the smoothest. He’s had to deal with a number of injury issues that have kept him off the ice. And when he has been in the lineup, Bonino hasn’t produced the way he is capable of. But tonight, all of his assets were on display. He chipped in a big goal, his first since Nov. 7 at Calgary, and set up another. All in all, his line with Bryan Rust and Tom Kuhnhackl combined for two goals and six points. In addition, Bonino was on the ice for the entirety of a Devils' 5-on-3 power play that lasted 1:22 and helped keep them from finding the back of the net. THE RIGHT RESPONSE
Matt Cullen is someone else who came up with a crucial play. After the Pens’ loss to Calgary last night, Patric Hornqvist expressed concerns about the team allowing quick response goals. They surrendered two in that game to the Flames and another against Washington earlier in the week, both defeats. “We’ve been talking about this a lot lately. That can’t happen,” he said. “We’re never going to win any games, any series, anything that way.” Well, when the Pens went up 1-0 today against the Devils, this time they didn’t allow their opponent to respond. Instead, they scored another on the next shift – just 38 seconds later. It started with Cullen, who made a nice play when his line took the ice for that shift.