Everything you need to know from the Penguins' 4-2 victory over New Jersey:
A STAAL ORDER
Penguins center Jordan Staal
has always had a big body at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. But his play was even bigger than that in Pittsburgh’s 4-1 win over New Jersey at CONSOL Energy Center Saturday night.
Staal scored two goals, including his 100th career NHL goal on the second tally, to lead the Penguins offensively, and adding five shots and three hits in over 22 minutes of ice time.
“I felt good tonight,” Staal said. “My legs felt good. My hands felt good. I just had a good game. … I was very excited when they announced 100 tonight. It’s a milestone, but I want to keep moving forward.”CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY ON STAAL.
The Penguins earned a four-minute power play just 37 seconds into the third period when Steve Sullivan
got a hi-stick to the face.
But an interesting sequence of events would follow. It began with Petr Sykora going to the box to serve the penalty although the replay showed it was actually Patrik Elias who committed the infraction.
To make matters worse, it would be Elias who would score a potentially game-changing shorthanded goal to even the score at 1-1.
But the Penguins kept their cool and remained focus, responding in the best way possible – by getting the goal back with a beautiful one-timer from Chris Kunitz
just 1:20 later to regain the lead.
“I thought it was a great response by our team,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “On a four-minute power play, they get a shorthanded goal and pull even in the game … I thought that was a big goal for them. I thought the answer back was huge for our team.
“Our power play responds right after that to get that goal, get back the lead. I think that really kind of energized our bench in jumping right back out and getting the lead.”
The team viewed the odd sequence of events as something that had no control over. All they could do was control their game, and they did that perfectly.
“These things happen, but we can’t lose our focus over that,” defenseman Kris Letang
said of Elias’ goal. “Just keep playing and we got our goal back.”
Added Kunitz, “They came out and scored a shorty. That put us 1-1. It was key for us to get the power-play goal and just go forward from there. It’s tough to take when they can score a shorty. It’s something we want to capitalize on and go forward and get the win. But they caught up. We were just fortunate going on the power play.”
Bylsma said this morning that the Penguins would be trying some new looks on the power play tonight, namely that Richard Park
would be seeing time on the point during the man-advantage while Steve Sullivan
would move to the halfwall.
Those moves paid off immediate dividends, as the Penguins scored two of their four goals (both on gorgeous one-timers) on the power play. They went 2-for-6 on the night with the man-advantage.
In addition to Kunitz’s goal, center Jordan Staal
blasted a slapshot past Devils goalie Johan Hedberg at the 6:07 mark of the first to open the scoring.
“I think compared to last year, we’ve simplified things,” said Letang, who earned the primary helper on Kunitz’s marker. “I think we have a shooting mentality. We move the puck really well. We take what the other team gives us. I think it’s good that we’re winning the special teams battles.”
FLEURY OF SAVES
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury
carried his outstanding play from Thursday’s win over Montreal into Pittsburgh’s Saturday tilt with New Jersey.
He finished with 23 saves on the night, playing especially excellent in the second period as the Devils pressed hard and controlled much of the play during that frame.
“He's our best player. He keeps us in every game,” Kunitz said. “There's a spectacular save going on at any time. I know he likes to give credit to our D-men and guys blocking shots, but we know right now that he's our best player. We just have to keep playing around him and keep pucks away from him and those second and third chances.”
Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek
left the game just over halfway through the third period of Saturday’s game after blocking a shot with his hand.
Bylsma said following the game that the extent of Michalek’s injury is unknown at this time.
“Michalek blocked a shot and he’s getting evaluated,” Bylsma said. “We’ll see where his status is (Sunday). There’s not much of an update, but we’ll see. He did have an injury to his hand.”
Before heading to the locker room, Michalek had earned an assist on James Neal
’s goal – the Penguins’ fourth and final tally of the night – through 16:29 minutes of ice time.
He was credited with a staggering six blocked shots on the night.
Author: Michelle Crechiolo