The pressure had been building all summer for the Penguins. Could the Stanley Cup Champions defend their title? The pressure culminated at Mellon Arena Friday night in the form of the banner-raising ceremony, and the Penguins showed the lingering memories of last year are behind them.
The crowd was manic as the Stanley Cup sat at center ice, then moved alongside the Conn Smythe Trophy, the Art Ross Trophy and the Prince of Wales Trophy. There were lights and fog, and the team had to find a way to channel this energy into a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers.
“I think it gave us energy in the first 10 minutes of the first period,” Chris Kunitz
“I think any home opener you’re going to be full of energy. Maybe that had a little bit to do with it,” Brooks Orpik
said. “It’s a fine line, you want to live that up but you want to make sure that’s the finishing touch on last season, just move on. I thought we did a really good job of that.”Marc-Andre Fleury
admitted to feeling some strong emotions during the ceremony
“I had some goose bumps,” Fleury said. “Seeing the videos and seeing the Cup again and the ice and the banner, we all had goose bumps.”
But when the ceremony ended, Fleury knew it was time to get down to business.
“We had a game to play,” Fleury said. “And I’m glad we got our first win.”
“We knew we had to start over from day one right now,” Kunitz said. “As soon as they took everything off the ice, we started skating around. It was the beginning of a new season.”
With the festivities behind them, the team felt they played a solid opener.
“It was a pretty good game for a first game, pretty competitive on both sides,” Orpik said. “(Lundqvist) made some great saves and Fleury made some great saves. They gave us all we could handle tonight, that’s for sure.”
“Anytime you get two points you can look at good things,” Kunitz said. “We had a great penalty kill tonight. We had a good power play. I think that’s what helped propel this win.”
“I think top to bottom everyone worked hard and that’s good to see,” Alex Goligoski said. “Especially the first game of the season, guys are battling and working hard for each other.”Goligoski Off to a Strong Start
Defenseman Alex Goligoski is known for his offensive skills. In Friday’s game he shone defensively as well, helping the team kill off all four Rangers’ power plays.
Goligoski’s two-plus minutes of penalty-kill time was a key to the Penguins’ success. He had several big shorthanded shifts.
And Goligoski certainly did not disappoint in the offensive category.
He racked up two assists. The first came on the power play. Goligoski set up a Sergei Gonchar point shot, which was deflected in by Evgeni Malkin
Goligoski’s second point came at even strength. His shot from the blue line was deflected in by Tyler Kennedy
Goligoski stressed the need for two-way play after the game.
“It felt good. I think penalty killing is something I’m still getting used to," Goligoski said. "It’s fun to not miss shifts when we have to kill three or four penalties in a period and things like that. It’s good to play all sides of the puck."
Captain Sidney Crosby
was impressed with the play of the defenseman.
“He played really well. He’s using his speed, too,” Crosby said. “He’s a guy that I think opposing forwards are going to find hard to track down on dumps and things like that.
"He’s really using his strengths. He sees the ice really well. He’s just getting on pucks and making it easy to get out of our zone.”
Goligoski’s two-point game was the fourth multi-point night of his career.