The Penguins top line of Chris Kunitz
, Evgeni Malkin
and James Neal
just keep streaking. The trio each recorded a point to extend their respective point streaks one game further.
Kunitz got things started when he carried the puck with speed down the far side and got a shot on net. The ‘Canes tried to clear the puck, but it went off the stick of Neal and bounced over the goal line for his 21st score of the season to tie the game at 1-1 halfway through the second period.
Kunitz and Malkin were credited with assists on the goal.
Malkin and Neal added another assist when both helped set up Steve Sullivan
’s power-play goal in the third period.
The trios’ scoring streaks are now: Malkin, 8 games (6G-12A); Neal, 8 games (7G-4A); and Kunitz 5 games (3G-5A).
The matching 8-game streaks for Malkin and Neal is the longest simultaneous scoring streak in the NHL this season between teammates. Kunitz's 5-game streak ties his career long.
Head coach Dan Bylsma preaches constantly to his players the importance of gaining puck possession, getting into the offensive zone and using a strong forecheck to tilt the majority of the play in the attacking end.
Bylsma’s team executed that strategy to near perfection against Carolina, spending nearly 80 percent of the game in the offensive zone. The result was a 4-2 victory and 52-18 shot advantage.
“When you’re controlling the offensive zone like that you’re going to get your bounces," Neal said. "We just want to stick with it and we did that."
The Penguins’ 52 shots are the most the team fired at the net since recording 55 shots against the New York Rangers on March 4, 2010 (5-4 OTW).
“It’s a good thing,” Jordan Staal
said of the shot discrepancy. “It shows that we’re playing a great game and we’re getting 50 and other teams are getting (under) 20. It was a good thing.” Read more here.
It was a milestone evening for Pittsburgh’s Jordan Staal
. At just 23 years, 108 days old, Staal appeared in his 400th career NHL game, becoming the seventh-youngest to hit that mark in the modern era.
Staal then put together a dominating performance at both ends of the ice for the Penguins. He led all forwards with 20:32 minutes of ice time and scored a crucial goal for Pittsburgh.
"He had a whale of a game," head coach Dan Bylsma said of Staal.
Staal took a pass from Tyler Kennedy
and had a 2-on-1 break with Pascal Dupuis
. Staal held the puck and shot it over the shoulder of goaltender Justin Peters.
Staal said: “It was a great pass by TK and I just got an opportunity and was able to get it in.”
Pens coach Bylsma won his 135th game behind the bench for Pittsburgh. He is now tied with Michel Therrien for second-most wins in franchise history.
Bylsma can move into sole possession of second place with a win Thursday night against Philadelphia.
Author: Sam Kasan