Michelle Crechiolo gives her three impressions from the press box of the Penguins’ 6-1 loss to Detroit on Thursday at Joe Louis Arena.
1. The Pens’ blue line struggled in this game – especially in the opening period. The Wings did an excellent job of springing their forwards and either getting behind the Pens’ D or splitting them. I think they did that about three times in the first few minutes, and Detroit ended up with a 3-0 lead off 15 shots in the period. Matt Murray was bombarded early, and I thought he did as well as he could in a tough situation. He came up with a number of terrific saves on quality chances.
2. Granted, the Pens' D didn’t get a lot of help from their forwards as a lot of players had quiet games, both offensively and helping out defensively. I wouldn’t say there was anyone that jumped out as having a real standout performance. The one player worthy of singling out is Beau Bennett, who had the game-deciding shootout goal in the Pens’ 1-0 win over the Blue Jackets on Monday and scored again tonight. He was strong defensively too, as he wasn’t on the ice for any goals against and even sacrificed the body at one point to make a phenomenal sliding block. Overall, the Pens did get better as the game went along, especially from a shot perspective – firing 35 total in the game – but they couldn’t convert any chances.
3. The teams played a five-minute, sudden-death overtime period using the new '3-on-3' format to provide all participants – players, coaches, management and on-ice officials – an expanded opportunity to test the format in advance of its introduction to regular-season play, just like they did Monday in Columbus. And we got a look at how dangerous the Pens can be in that situation, even down a man. With the Pens at a 4-on-3 disadvantage, Evgeni Malkin – seeing PK time – made an unreal play to power around a pair of defenders to get to a loose puck and dish it over to Oskar Sundqvist, who tapped it into the open net for the score. It’s scary to think how much of a threat Malkin can be both shorthanded and in OT.