|Goaltender Brent Johnson weathered an early Thrashers’ storm as Atlanta jumped out to an 11-1 advantage in shots in the early part of the game. Pittsburgh rebounded to score the first goal and slowly pulled away from Atlanta to snap its five-game losing streak. |
Pittsburgh played excellent in the defensive zone and relentlessly attacked on offensive – registering 37 shots on goal in the game. The Penguins put together their most complete performance in the past few weeks and were rewarded with a victory.
|WHAT HAPPENED |
|PITTSBURGH (AP) - Jordan Staal scored twice, Ruslan Fedotenko ended Pittsburgh's power-play slump, and the Penguins halted a season-worst, five-game losing streak, beating Atlanta 5-2 on Tuesday night for the Thrashers' ninth consecutive loss. |
|SHOT OF THE NIGHT |
Luca Caputi celebrates his first goal of the season, and first at Mellon Arena
(photo by Getty)
|What Went Well: Defensive Zone Coverage |
Don’t be fooled by the final stat sheet. The Thrashers did record a high number of shots with 33 in the game. However, most of Atlanta’s shot were taken from the perimeter because Pittsburgh’s positioning was solid, and its defenders took away time and space from the Thrashers’ offense.
What Could Have Gone Better: Strong Start
The Penguins were on their heels at the outset of the game. The Thrashers ran up an early 11-1 advantage in shots and were in complete control of the early portion of the contest. But Pittsburgh, thanks to netminder Brent Johnson, was able to hold Atlanta off the scoreboard.
|Jordan Staal scored two goals and added an assist for a three-point night. The 6-foot-4, 221-pound forward also posted a plus-3 rating, a game-high six shots, three hits and 20:20 minutes of ice time. |
The Penguins and Staal did everything they could to get the 21-year-old the hat trick. His teammates fed him the puck at every opportunity late in the game, and Staal had three great chances, but it wasn’t meant to be tonight.
|SCORING SYNOPSIS |
|The Penguins struck first in the opening minute of the second period. Kris Letang collected the puck in the far point, skated between two Thrashers into the high slot and wristed a shot between the legs of goalie Ondrej Pavelec at the 36-second mark of the second period. Pittsburgh 1, Atlanta 0. |
Jim Slater tied the game up with a score three minutes into the second period. Slater picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, split two Penguins defenders and sent a shot into the net through Brent Johnson’s five-hole. Pittsburgh 1, Atlanta 1.
The Penguins regained the lead 8:12 into the second period. Jordan Staal carried the puck into the Thrashers zone down the far side. The puck was poked off his stick, but Tyler Kennedy retrieved it in the far corner. Kennedy made a centering pass that Staal snapped into the far side of the goal. Pittsburgh 2, Atlanta 1.
Pittsburgh increased its lead with a power-play tally. Ruslan Fedotenko carried the puck down the far side with Staal on a two-on-one. Fedotenko’s centering pass was knocked away by Atlanta. But Fedotenko recollected the puck and pushed it across the goal line from a bad angle. Pittsburgh 3, Atlanta 1.
The Thrashers cut into Pittsburgh’s lead late in the second frame. An errant Pittsburgh pass from its own far corner ended up on the blade of Slater right above the crease. Slater wasted no time converting the opportunity into a goal. Pittsburgh 3, Atlanta 2.
Pittsburgh upped its lead to two scores on Luca Caputi’s first goal of the season. Evgeni Malkin stole the puck in the neutral zone and took the puck strong to the net. Pavelec made the initial save, but Caputi swooped in to bury the rebound. Pittsburgh 4, Atlanta 2.
The Penguins scored their fifth goal of the game to put this contest out of reach from Atlanta. Kennedy skated down the near side and ripped a shot to the far, low side of the net. Pavelec kicked out the rebound. Staal was there to pick up the puck and dropped it into the net. Pittsburgh 5, Atlanta 2.
|INTRIGUING NOTABLES |
|The Penguins received a blow early in the morning after the team announced forward Chris Kunitz would be undergoing surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle and will be sidelined for the next four to six weeks. The team recalled Luca Caputi from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. |
Following the game and the media locker room session, the Penguins players gathered in the players lounge to watch the finale of the World Junior Championships between USA and Canada. The Canadian players jumped to their feet as America’s northern neighbor erased a 5-3 deficit and tied the game in the final three minutes. But the Americans got the last laugh as USA won the contest in overtime.
|GAME NOTES |
|> Pittsburgh improved to 27-16-1 on the season with a 14-7-1 mark at Mellon Arena. |
> Scoring Summary:
PIT, K.Letang (2), 0:39 2nd period: Penguins 1, Thrashers 0
ATL, J.Slater (2), 2:57 2nd period: Penguins 1, Thrashers 1
PIT, J.Staal (12), 8:12 2nd period: Penguins 2, Thrashers 1
PIT, R.Fedotenko PP (8), 14:41 2nd period: Penguins 3, Thrashers 1
ATL, J.Slater (3), 16:14 2nd period: Penguins 3, Thrashers 2
PIT, L.Caputi (1), 8:32 3rd period: Penguins 4, Thrashers 2
PIT, J.Staal (13), 15:38 3rd period: Penguins 5, Thrashers 2
> The Penguins are now 45-19-5 in the regular season since head coach Dan Bylsma took over. They have a record of 24-8-2 at Mellon Arena.
> The Penguins improved their record in several categories all-time under Bylsma: when scoring first (30-4-2), when leading after two periods (27-3-1) and when scoring four-or-more goals (30-0).
> Jordan Staal scored two goals and added an assist for a three-point game. He now has a three-game scoring streak (2G-3A).
> Ruslan Fedotenko (1G-1A) and Tyler Kennedy (2A) each finished with two points in the game.
> Luca Caputi scored his first goal of the season in his first game with Pittsburgh this season. He also led the team with four hits.
> Kris Letang scored his first goal in 20 games.
> Brent Johnson made 31 saves and recorded an assist in the game.
|THREE STARS ||QUOTE OF THE NIGHT |
| || |
|1. J.Staal |
|"They came out pretty hard and we were |
gripping our sticks pretty tight out there.
... Credit to the guys tonight for sticking
with it and getting the win."
- Dan Bylsma