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Less is More with Pens' Power Play

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
When discussing the Penguins' special teams after Wednesday's 5-2 win over Montreal, it wasn't their now top-ranked penalty kill that was the talk of the town.

The Penguins scored four straight power-play goals to post their best performance of the season on the man-advantage against what had been the NHL’s No. 1 penalty kill unit entering Wednesday’s game.

To top it all off, they did it without Sidney Crosby, whose 10 power-play tallies are tied for third in the league.

“It’s suprising, but at the same time, if you look at our goals, they were all just simple,” defenseman Kris Letang said, who had three assists on the power play. “Just shooting pucks at the net, we had big bodies in front just tipping and screening.”

Prior to Wednesday, Pittsburgh’s highest output on the man-advantage had been three goals – once on Dec. 2 in a 7-2 win over Columbus and again on Dec. 20 in a 6-1 victory over Phoenix.

Like Letang, head coach Dan Bylsma attributed the team’s success on a power play to a return to fundamentals. The Penguins’ power play has struggled this season, hovering around the middle of the pack with an 18.4-percent success rate.

It’s easy to get overzealous and try to do too much with the puck when you’ve got an extra man, and the Penguins made sure to keep it simple on Wednesday.

“For the majority of the time, we got the puck to the net with people there,” he said. “We had net-front presence. A lot of fundamental things, getting pucks to the net, getting people to the net, getting second chances and we got good results (Wednesday).”

Defensemen Alex Goligoski and Letang quarterbacked the Penguins’ scorching PP unit. They were out for all four goals, as were Jordan Staal and Evgeni Malkin.

Goligoski finished with three points (2G-1A) on the power play, as did Staal (1G-2A).

While Malkin didn’t earn a point, Bylsma was impressed by the play off the puck of the Penguins forward.

“Malkin doesn’t get a lot of reward (Wednesday) but he’s around the cage all night long,” Bylsma said. “He’s at the net, he created a lot, he played a great game.”

“Just moving the puck quick, and when we had shots, we took them,” Goligoski said. “You get bounces, you get rebounds, that’s good. That’s how you score.”

Four goals in a row, that is.
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