Everything you need to know from the Penguins' 6-3 victory over Ottawa:
FIRST PERIOD FRENZY
Despite having four days off since their last game, the Senators showed no signs of rust as they drew first blood when Kaspars Daugavins scored just 1:41 into the opening period to put them up 1-0.
But “enough is enough” is a good term to describe Pittsburgh’s response.
The Penguins went on to score just 27 seconds later to swing the momentum back their way. They chased starter Craig Anderson from the cage after scoring four unanswered goals in a 7:25 span and just completely dominated the rest of the period to take a 4-1 lead into the middle frame.
“There was a talk on our bench right away about a response and before you could hear the echo, we had responded,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “It continued from there.”
The Penguins went on to win the game 6-3.
SPREADING IT OUT
The Penguins certainly spread out the scoring in Friday’s 6-3 win over Ottawa. So much so that even goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
got in on the fun, being one of 12 Penguins to record at least a point in the victory.
“Finally just to get a point was nice,” grinned Fleury, who’s notorious for trying to score at the end of games when the Penguins have a healthy lead and their opponent has an empty net.
But all jokes aside, being able to roll four lines that are capable of producing like they did on Friday is tough for other teams to answer.
It wasn’t just Crosby and Malkin carrying the load, although the pair did combine for five points. Other players continued to step up like they did when both superstars were sidelined for a considerable amount of time last season – Tyler Kennedy
scored a goal and two assists, Paul Martin
got a pair of helpers and Chris Kunitz
, Pascal Dupuis
and Jordan Staal
all scored as well.
“It’s good for the team, you know?,” Malkin said. “It’s the whole team helping. It’s great we have four good lines and everyone tries to score.”
The main reason for their success, Crosby explained, was not trying to overdo it. By sticking to their system and playing the right way, the Penguins were just too much for a good young Senators squad to handle.
“I think we tried to keep it pretty simple,” Crosby said. “Last game we made a lot of mistakes in the neutral zone. I think tonight, we did a better job of getting the puck in deep and going to work. We created chances that way and drew some penalties that way. That’s our game. Speed is our game and we got to it throughout the three periods tonight.”
While balanced scoring is certainly key to success, it definitely was enjoyable watching the two-headed monster of Crosby and Malkin putting forth dominant efforts.
Both players posted multiple-point efforts in the Penguins’ victory, with Crosby earning three helpers while Malkin notched a goal and an assist.
“They’re fun to watch, definitely,” Fleury said of his teammates. “I’m glad they’re on my team. These guys are so skilled, so talented. They work hard at it. It’s fun for them and it’s paying off for them.”
Not only did both players contribute offensively, but each one played well defensively. Crosby went a eye-popping 18-7 (72 percent) in the faceoff dot, while Malkin’s hard backchecking, hustle and awareness thwarted what could have been a number of quality Senators scoring chances.
“We help the defensemen and Flower play D,” Malkin said. “They do a great job. We work together in the offensive zone and defensive zone too.”
SHAKIN’ EM UP
Bylsma said this past week that with Crosby, Malkin and Staal all healthy, he would experiment with different line combinations to ensure those three players would get quality ice time.
In Friday's game versus Ottawa, he was able to do that as the game wore on.
Bylsma switched up his top three trios to look like this (the fourth line of Arron Asham
, Joe Vitale
and Craig Adams
remained the same):Chris Kunitz
-Sidney Crosby-James Neal
-Jordan Staal-Evgeni Malkin
-Pascal Dupuis-Tyler Kennedy
Aside from getting his top three centers more minutes, Bylsma explained that another reason for the switches was to get the defensively responsible Pascal Dupuis
more time in the center position.
Dupuis’ greatest asset is his speed, which makes him quite the versatile player. But recently he has also proven to be good in draws, so Bylsma figured there was no time like the present to try Dupuis in a new role that would allow him to move Malkin to wing.
“I liked the matchup I could get with Dupuis playing center with Cooke and ‘TK,’” Bylsma said. “He’s taken probably 15 draws this year and been very good at them. He’s a good defensive player and skates well enough to be in that position.
“I thought that was a good time to get him a chance to play on kind of that shutdown line against the other team’s top line, allowing (Malkin) to go with (Staal) and (Sullivan).”
POWER PLAY REVITALIZED
When Steve Sullivan
scored with a two-man advantage in the first period of Friday's game, it meant the the Penguins now have a power-play goal in seven straight games at CONSOL Energy Center.
It’s their longest such streak since the 2008-09 season when they went eight consecutive contests.
“We played the system,” Malkin said. “We’ve worked the last two practices on the power play and 5-on-3 and we did a great job.”
By completely outworking the Senators, the Penguins forced them to take bad penalties – three in the first period alone.
Sullivan’s goal came shortly before a 30-second 5-on-3 power play expired when his attempted pass to Neal deflected off the stick of Senators defenseman Chris Phillips and into the back of the cage. Sullivan couldn't have timed it any better, as his marker terminated the remaining 13 seconds of the first penalty – meaning the Penguins still had almost a full 5-on-4 advantage to work with.
And while Malkin’s goal wasn’t technically scored on that specific power play, it came shortly after that penalty expired.
“Everyone knows what to do,” explained Malkin of the power play's resurgence. “Just shoot the puck and control the play between the five guys.”
Author: Michelle Crechiolo