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Aftermath: Penguins 6 Blues 3

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

 Recap (AP) |  Photo Gallery |   Game Highlights
Pittsburgh won its first game in St. Louis in 11 years with a 6-3 victory over the Blues on Saturday night at the Scottrade Center. The Penguins turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 advantage with three-straight goals in the second period and never looked back. Sidney Crosby, who was a game-day decision because of an undisclosed injury, played through the pain and was named the game’s No. 1 star after registering two assists.

St. Louis held a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period with goals from Barret Jackman and T.J. Oshie. Miroslav Satan got the lone Pittsburgh goal in the first when he scored his team-leading sixth goal. Pittsburgh scored three goals in the second period from Alex Goligoski, Evgeni Malkin (power play) and Tyler Kennedy to take a 4-2 lead. The Blues Patrik Berglund scored at 15:47 of the third period to make it a one-goal game, 4-3. The Penguins responded with two goals. First, Max Talbot scored 40 seconds after Berglund's goal to restore the two-goal advantage. Then Jordan Staal finished off the Blues when he got his first goal of the season on an empty net at 19:40.

             Marc-Andre Fleury leaps to make a save (photo by Getty)
What Worked: Finishing Strong
Pittsburgh had problems finishing off opponents in games. The Penguins lost leads against New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington and the N.Y. Rangers. Pittsburgh had a 4-2 lead in the third period when St. Louis’ Patrik Berglund scored with a little over five minutes left in the game. Instead of allowing another lead slip away, Pittsburgh responded with a goal 40 seconds later by Max Talbot and kept applying pressure in the Blues' zone. The Penguins continued to attack the St. Louis net and converted two goals in the process.

What Didn't Work: Clearing the Net
It’s difficult to nitpick something that the Penguins could have done better when the team exploded for six goals and played strong for 60 minutes. But Pittsburgh did surrender three goals, all of which occurred with Blues players stationed in front of Marc-Andre Fleury. The first goal came on a shot from the blue line through traffic. The second was a one-timer by T.J. Oshie, who went unchecked in the slot. On the third Blues' goal, Patrik Berglund was able to pick up his own rebound without obstruction and bury it.
Miroslav Satan registered his first three-point game of the season with a goal and two assists. He notched the Penguins’ opening goal with a superb solo effort. Satan skated into the Blues zone and his pass attempted deflected back to him. Satan then wristed a shot from the high slot into the net for his team-leading sixth goal of the season. With Pittsburgh leading 4-3 in the third period, Satan penetrated the blue line and dropped a pass to Max Talbot. He then drove to the net, occupying a Blues defenseman to free up Talbot for a clean shot on goal. Talbot nailed Pittsburgh’s fifth goal. Satan was physical game and fought for loose pucks. He played a complete game and notched his best performance of the season.
The Penguins entered the game against St. Louis as a wounded team. Pittsburgh was hobbled with injuries to Ryan Whitney, Sergei Gonchar, Pascal Dupuis, Ruslan Fedotenko and Sidney Crosby. The team lost the first three games of its four-game road trip. Despite all the adversity, the Penguins put together one of their most complete games to pull out a 6-3 victory. They played hard from the beginning and finished the game strong. It may be too early to call the game a must-win, but it will be a huge confidence boost for the team. Give the Penguins credit, they answered the call.

Crosby showed why he's the Penguins captain. He suffered an injury two days ago against Phoenix and had to leave the game. His status for the Blues game was uncertain. With his team desperately needing a win, Crosby suited up and registered two assists in the game. Crosby was targeted by Blues players, who hit him every time he was on the ice. The injury didn't seem to slow him down as he played with his usual passion and all-out effort. He winced in pain a few times, but fought through it to ensure that Pittsburgh got that much-needed win.

Crosby didn’t take his first shift until three minutes into the game. He made his presence felt immediately. After driving to the net, he attempted a centering pass, and then tried to stuff in the subsequent rebound. The commotion in front of the net resulted in a St. Louis penalty.

Pittsburgh’s penalty killing unit took the play to the Blues No. 1 ranked power play. Max Talbot stole a pass attempt by goalie Chris Mason and set up a shot for Mike Zigomanis. Zigomanis backhanded the puck, but sent it just wide. Matt Cooke singlehandedly killed 15 seconds by pressuring the puck in the Blues zone. St. Louis went 0 for 3 in the game with only two power-play shots on goal.

The Blues were physical with the Penguins in the game. St. Louis took every opportunity to throw their weight around, particularly on Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. The Blues also hit the Penguins stars a few times away from the play.

Penguins head coach Michel Therrien used Maxime Talbot in front of the net on Pittsburgh's power-play opportunities.

Blues 1, Pens 0. The Blues got the opening goal on an innocent looking play. Barret Jackman sent a shot from the point on net. The puck hit the back of the net and slingshot out faster than it went in. The puck appeared to re-direct off of the stick of Rob Scuderi, though it wasn’t conclusive. Either way, 1-0 St. Louis.

Marc-Andre Fleury made a key save on a shorthanded breakaway for Jay McClement. The Blue got around Darryl Sydor, but couldn’t get the puck beyond Fleury, who stood his ground in the crease.

Pens 1, Blues 1. Miroslav Satan tied the game at 1-1 with his team-leading sixth goal of the season. Kris Letang made a great breakout pass to Crosby, who tapped the puck ahead to Satan. Satan penetrated the blue line and the Blues defense backed up. He drifted into the slot and whipped a wrist shot that landed inside the top right corner behind Mason, who was playing deep in his crease.

Blues 2, Pens 1. The Blues answered with a goal 17 seconds later. T.J. Oshie, a Calder candidate, dumped the puck into the Pittsburgh zone. David Perron gained possession and threw a centering pass to an unchecked Oshie, who nailed a one-timer past Fleury.

Letang has mastered the art of diving to knock the puck away from forwards that are a step beyond him. He lays out his body and swings his stick to make contact with the puck. It seems like he pulls this manuever once a game.

A couple of Penguins defensemen took shots to their arms. Letang skated slowly to bench, hunched over and in obvious pain. He appeared to take a heavy slash on his arms. Rob Scuderi also took a slash to his lower arm in the second period. Both players were able to continue playing.

Pens 2, Blues 2. Alex Goligoski notched his third goal of the year to tie the game, 2-2. He collected a pass at the blue line from Satan. He faked a cross-ice pass that fooled the Blues Cam Janssen. When Janssen left his position, Goligoski skated into the high slot and sent a wrist shot towards the net that eluded Mason.

Pittsburgh’s first two goals were scored from the high slot. The Blues Mason was deep in his crease both times. A goalie will usually challenge a shot and position himself high on the crease, particularly a shot from that far away. I don't know why Mason isn't challenging Penguins' shooters. I’m not sure if Mason is lacking confidence – which shows when a goalie is afraid to challenge shots – or if it is due to his particular style.

An apparent third goal by St. Louis was waved off with a high-stick call. Keith Tkachuk’s shot was saved by Fleury. The puck flew above the crossbar and Tkachuk knocked the puck towards the front of the net. Patrik Berglund slammed in a shot but the referees were quick to wave off the goal.

Pens 4, Blues 2. Pittsburgh scored two goals in 37 seconds to transform a 2-2 tie into a 4-2 advantage. Malkin nailed a fastball through Mason for a power-play goal. Tyler Kennedy scored his third goal of the season with persistence. His wrap around attempt was stopped by Mason, but Kennedy got his own rebound and stuffed it in.

It only takes one shot to turn a bad power play into a good power play. Pittsburgh wasted over a minute of power-play time in the second period, spending a majority of the time in their own zone. But Malkin changed everything. Crosby gained the zone and sent a blue line pass that Petr Sykora placed on a tee for Malkin. Malkin put all his momentum and power into the blast to give Pittsburgh the lead, 3-2.

Kennedy’s goal is credited to his persistence. He tried a wrap around but Mason got his skate against the goal post. The rebound came right back to Kennedy. Mason lost track of the puck and pulled his skate off of the post, creating a void. Kennedy stuffed the rebound into the small opening for a 4-2 Pittsburgh advantage.

Janne Pesonen made his NHL debut against the Blues. He started the game skating with Malkin and Sykora. He also worked on the fourth line with Zigomanis and Eric Godard. He finished the game with 14 shifts and 9:52 minutes of ice time. He saw time on the Penguins second power-play unit.

Therrien is utilizing Zigomanis’ faceoff prowess in the defensive zone. When there is a draw in the Penguins zone, Zigomanis will join whichever line is on the ice. After Pittsburgh gets the puck out of the zone, he races to the bench so Pittsburgh can get the regular line combination on the ice.

Something interesting occurred on a four-on-four faceoff in the Blues zone. Max Talbot was late getting into the faceoff circle and was gliding into position with his head turned. The linesman dropped the puck and St. Louis won the draw before Talbot reached the dot or turned his head around.

Pens 5, Blues 3. The Blues pulled within a goal when Patrik Berglund followed up on his own rebound to beat Fleury. The Penguins responded in 40 seconds. Satan penetrated the blue line and left a drop pass to Talbot. Satan went to the net and Talbot reclaimed Pittsburgh's two-goal lead with a shot from atop the right circle. Mason was once again deep in his net on the shot. It was the third time the Penguins scored a goal with Mason near his own goal line.

Pens 6, Blues 3. Jordan Staal got his first goal of the season with an empty-netter with 19.7 seconds left in the game. Malkin made an unselfish play with the puck at center ice. Instead of taking a shot himself, he sent a pass to Staal, who had a clear shot of the goal. Staal gave a little fist thrust following the goal.
> Pittsburgh improved to 6-4-2 on the year, with a 3-2-1 mark on the road.

> Pittsburgh finished its four-game road trip with a 1-2-1 record, earning three points. The Penguins return to Mellon Arena for a game against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

> The Penguins scored six goals in the game, the highest total so far this season.

> Barret Jackman scored the game’s opening goal at 9:29 of the opening period to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead. Miroslav Satan tied the game, 1-1, with his team-leading sixth goal of the season at 17:47 of the first. St. Louis retook the lead, 2-1, just 17 seconds later when rookie T.J. Oshie nailed a one-timer. The Penguins scored the next three goals to take a 4-2 lead. Alex Goligoski scored his third goal of the season with a wrist shot in the high slot at 6:03 of the second period. Evgeni Malkin gave Pittsburgh the lead, 3-2, with a slap shot on a Penguins power play. Tyler Kennedy scored 37 seconds later when he stuffed in his own rebound on a wrap around at 12:59 of the second period. Patrik Berglund, who had a goal disallowed due to a high stick, cut the deficit to one goal when he scored on his own rebound at 15:47 of the third period. Max Talbot restored Pittsburgh's two-goal cushion with a goal at 16:27, 40 seconds after Berglund's goal. Jordan Staal iced the game with an empty-netter at 19:40.

> Evgeni Malkin recorded a goal and an assist for a two-point night. He’s registered at least one point in 11 of Pittsburgh’s 12 games this season, and currently has an eight-game scoring streak. During that streak he’s compiled 15 points (3G-12A).

> Malkin is the NHL’s leading scorer. Following his two-point night at St. Louis, he now has 18 points on the season, with four goals and 14 assists. Malkin's 14 assists are also a league best.

> Satan scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season in the first period. He also leads the team with four power-play goals. Satan scored his second goal in as many games. Earlier this season, he notched a goal in three straight contests.

> Janne Pesonen made his NHL debut on a line with Malkin and Petr Sykora. He finished the evening with 14 shifts for nearly 10 minutes of ice time.

> Former Penguins goaltender Les Binkley was in attendance for the Pittsburgh-St. Louis matchup. Binkley played on the original Penguins team in 1967-68 and his one of two goalies (Tom Barrasso being the other) on the Penguins Millennium team.
1. Sidney Crosby, PIT
2. Miroslav Satan, PIT
3. Evgeni Malkin, PIT
“That was a long road trip. It will be fun to get back in Pittsburgh.”
- Marc-Andre Fleury on finishing the road trip


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