Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box of the Penguins' 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
1. TOP-SIX SHUFFLE
After the Pens produced just two goals in their last three games, tonight head coach Mike Sullivan swapped his right wings on the top six in hopes of generating a spark. He moved Phil Kessel next to Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz and put Patric Hornqvist with Carl Hagelin and Matt Cullen. The move worked, as both lines responded with four of Pittsburgh’s six goals (and 10 points total), all at even-strength. I thought both Kessel and Hornqvist used their strengths to be effective. Kessel used his speed and release to be a factor every time he was on the ice with Crosby, who did the work to get him the puck. Meanwhile, Hornqvist was providing his usual net-front presence and physical play and ended up with a pair of assists because of it.
2. TIMELY GOAL
As the Pens’ offense has slumped over the last week, we’ve talked a lot about the third and fourth lines stepping up and providing secondary scoring in addition to the energy and momentum that they bring. Sam Kasan even wrote a feature on it yesterday. Tonight, they did just that. Scott Wilson scored his first NHL goal in the contest and it was a timely one, giving the Pens a two-goal cushion late in the third that they would not relinquish. Conor Sheary did a tremendous job of protecting the puck down low and sending a perfect pass to his winger, who one-timed it into the net. You can see the chemistry those two have, as the roommates down in WBS played together there as well and were one of the top lines in the American Hockey League. It looks like that’s starting to translate to this level.
3. TAKING ADVANTAGE
While Petr Mrazek has good numbers this season, for whatever reason the Detroit netminder looked shaky both times he’s played the Pens. They took advantage again tonight – breaking out of their rut for five big goals, all at even-strength (the sixth was an empty-netter). The forwards did a tremendous job of coming away with the puck down low and getting it to outlets who had the open shot. The Pens put puck after puck on net, but I thought what stood out to me the most about that is how they followed those up. They weren’t all just floaters from 25 feet away with no black jerseys around. Guys were going straight to the blue paint all night. They were causing a lot of scrambles and coming out of them with the puck.