COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Penguins penalty killing unit has gotten a lot of attention lately, and deservedly so, for an incredible run of 32-straight kills in a perfect nine consecutive games.
But it was the power play that really stole the show in Pittsburgh’s 7-2 win at Columbus Saturday night.
The Penguins power play exploded for three goals on three tries in the first period as Pittsburgh built a 4-0 lead just 15 minutes into the game. Defenseman Paul Martin
scored twice (amazingly, both were unassisted) and Sidney Crosby
“The power play took the wind out of their sails early,” Martin said. “You get some goals and get up like that, I think that took a lot out of them.”
“The power play getting the goals like that in the first period put us in a good spot,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Our special teams were special in the first.”PAUL WALL
Blueliner Paul Martin
’s a fairly soft-spoken guy off the ice. But his play on the ice against Columbus was deafening.
Martin scored two power-play goals in the contest, his second career two-goal game (Feb. 9, 2008 vs. Carolina) and played solid in the defensive zone.
“D-man Paulie Martin was doing what he does best,” Bylsma said. “He found space, getting pucks on net and shots going through the back of the net.”
Martin made a great play at the blue line that led to his first score. The Blue Jackets tried to clear the puck and it was gliding out of the zone. Martin picked up the puck with speed, carried it to the near circle and attempted to hit Pascal Dupuis
in front. The puck deflected off the leg of a Jackets defender and trickled through the five-hole of goaltender Steve Mason.
“The first was a backdoor to Dupuis and it hit a skate and went in,” Martin said.
Martin, again, found a loose puck to score his second goal. He picked up the rubber drifting in the high slot. He skated into the slot and whipped a shot on goal that, again, sneaked through Mason’s five-hole.
“The second I just came down the slot and it opened up for a shot,” Martin said. “I was thinking of passing, but then it was just me. It found a way in. It wasn’t very hard, but it went in.”
Martin came up one goal shy of his first-ever hat trick.
“They stuck me out on the power play at the end and I tried to shoot one,” he said. “The two points (in the standings) is the important thing and the way that we play. That was a good win.”FOUR-BAGGER
The Penguins fourth line played an integral role in Pittsburgh’s first-period onslaught in Columbus. The group of Craig Adams
, Mike Rupp and Eric Godard scored one goal, and helped set up another as the Penguins staked an early 4-0 lead.
The trio was particularly impressive with their possession time and cycling. After a lengthy offensive zone possession, Godard got off a shot from above the far circle that trickled through Mason’s five-hole, but the puck lost momentum and died right on the goal line.
No problem. Rupp swooped in and got the slam dunk.
“Adams was protecting the puck for it seemed like an eternity,” Rupp said. “Eric put it on net and it was trickling through. I touched as it was crossing the goal line or stopping on the goal line. It was great work by my linemates getting the puck on the net.”
Late in the first, another good offensive pressure time tired out the Blue Jackets and forced Ethan Moreau to take a slashing penalty. On the ensuing power play, Crosby scored to give Pittsburgh an insurmountable 4-0 lead.
“We did a real good job of controlling the puck in the offensive zone,” Rupp said. “It gave us opportunities to get some shots on net and put the puck in.”MALKIN INJURY NOT SERIOUSEvgeni Malkin
was a last-minute scratch from the lineup Saturday night. Although coach Bylsma said that the injury isn’t serious.
“It’s not a structural problem or anything,” Bylsma said. “He’s just been banged up.”