Everything you need to know from the Penguins' 2-1 shootout loss to Edmonton: MONSTER EFFORT
Defenseman Kris Letang
put forth yet another impressive effort for the Penguins on Sunday, scoring his team’s only goal in their 2-1 shootout loss to Edmonton. Letang now has five points (1G-4A) through three games, tying him for the league lead.
The 24-year-old shouldered a monster workload despite playing the night before in Calgary and didn’t seem any worse for wear, skating a team-leading 29:16 minutes – almost six more than the next-highest total.
It looked like he never left the ice during the overtime period, and he hardly did – playing just over three out of five minutes. Letang showcased his speed and slick hands during the extra session, having a bit more space (overtime rules dictate the teams skate 4-on-4) to jump up and lead rushes.
“I think this was his strongest game,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He was the one guy who maybe had a lot of energy – bursts of energy – late in the game there in overtime. He looked like he could end it a couple times in breaks that he got in there and second chances. He was strong.”
Letang looked more confident than ever manning the center point on Pittsburgh’s first power-play unit, which has now scored at least one goal in each of the Penguins’ first three regular-season games. He finished with six shots on goal and had two more attempts blocked.
STANDING ON HIS HEAD
The Oilers’ roster – especially their forward lineup – is filled with first-round draft picks galore, meaning they have plenty of dynamic young talent. But Penguins goalie Brent Johnson
– who made his season debut in the Penguins’ second game in as many days – did everything he could to cool off Edmonton's offense by turning in a superb effort between the pipes.
Although the Oilers scored late in the third to force overtime and the shootout, Johnson kept his team in the game and helped them earn a point with his outstanding play – turning aside 34 shots on the night, especially as Edmonton pushed hard in the final frame.
“Johnny was great. He came up with big saves at crucial points in the third period when we needed them," forward James Neal
said. "Ever since I’ve been here he’s come in and done a great job when he’s gotten the chance.”
The Penguins like to say their goalie has to be their best penalty killer, and Johnson certainly was – standing tall through five Oilers power plays which produced plenty of quality scoring chances.
“Johnny played really well,” Letang said. “He was pretty solid tonight.”
But although Johnson stood on his head, he deflected all the praise to his teammates.
“I felt fine. I felt good right from the go. The guys played great in front of me,” he said. “Basically, I saw every shot. When the guys play like that in front of you, they make it easier on the goalie to make the saves.”
MANUEVERING WITHOUT MALKIN
Penguins center Evgeni Malkin
sat out Sunday’s game with what Bylsma deemed a lower-body injury, saying it was not related to the knee surgery he underwent in February to repair torn ligaments. Arron Asham
was also scratched for the contest along with defenseman Brooks Orpik
That meant Steve MacIntyre
and Richard Park
made their season debuts, skating on the fourth line with Craig Adams
. Mark Letestu assumed Malkin’s spot between Steve Sullivan
and James Neal
on the first line, while Joe Vitale
centered Matt Cooke
and Pascal Dupuis
and the Chris Kunitz
-Jordan Staal-Tyler Kennedy line remained the same.
“I don’t have an update for you,” Bylsma said after the game, adding that Malkin could be ready for the Penguins' home opener on Tuesday. “Just a lower-body injury. Don’t think it’s a long term (injury).”
The Penguins had three players who performed well in the faceoff dot on Sunday – Letestu, Park and Vitale.
Vitale won 10-of-15 for a 67-percent success rate, Letestu won 11-of-17 for a 61-percent success rate and Park won 7-of-12 draws, which equals 58 percent.
Author: Michelle Crechiolo