The Penguins have been an exciting hockey club to watch recently. A combination of lead changes, shootouts, overtimes and come-from-behind victories have marked Pittsburgh’s early November run.
“From an entertainment standpoint it’s great,” Brooks Orpik
said. “I’m sure fans and TV ratings love it but in terms of older people, I don’t know if our coaches are going to make it through.”
“It seems like we’re playing a lot of those games,” rookie defenseman Alex Goligoski said. “It’s nothing new I guess. It’s tough to give up a lead but we’ve done a good job battling back this year too.”
Pittsburgh proved that it can battle back to overcome any deficit. In their last three games, the Penguins scored a late-third period goal to prevent a defeat, and then went on to win each game. The most dramatic was their four-goal third period against Detroit to eliminate the Red Wings’ 5-2 and 6-4 leads.
Pittsburgh’s comebacks have eluded potential losses, but the Penguins know that won’t be the case every time.
“It’s not a position we want to put ourselves in time after time because teams are too good,” Orpik said. “It’s going to catch up to you eventually. I guess it’s good to win but it’s not exactly the way we wanted it.”
Pittsburgh is riding a five-game winning streak and is unbeaten in the month of November (5-0-0). The Penguins are quietly off to their best start in 13 years. Their 10-4-2 record for 22 points is the team’s best start since the 1995-96 season when they opened with a 10-3-3 mark for 23 points.
Even with the team’s early success, the Penguins would prefer to be better at protecting leads.
“I feel like a broken record saying 'learn from our mistakes' because we obviously haven’t,” Orpik said. “It’s a long season. It’s good that we’re finding ways to win.”>
Pittsburgh cancelled practice on Friday afternoon and held an optional skate instead. Only five Penguins players did not participate: Forwards Evgeni Malkin
, Petr Sykora, Ruslan Fedotenko and Miroslav Satan and defenseman Rob Scuderi used the day to rest. >
Goligoski notched his first career shootout goal with a nifty forehand-backhand move on his first career attempt on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers. It was also his first shootout-deciding goal as it propelled the Penguins to a victory.
“It’s a move I’ve done before,” Goligoski said. “I was just coming in and seeing what (Martin Biron) was going to give me. I didn’t really thing about it too much.”
“The kid’s pretty good in the shootout in practice,” head coach Michel Therrien said after the game. “We do practice it every week. He’s definitely got the skill. I’m glad that he was able to score.”
Not only did Goligoski help the Penguins win the game with his shootout goal, he did it in front of his parents. Dan and Paula Goligoski were at Mellon Arena to watch their son play for first time as a Penguin.
“It was cool that it was their first game and the way it turned out in the end,” Goligoski said. “It was a cool way to end the game for them.”>
Therrien sent in goaltender Dany Sabourin into the game to start the third period. Therrien pulled Marc-Andre Fleury
after the Flyers scored four goals in the second period.
When you give up four goals in about 10 minutes, you have to try to change things. - Michel Therrien
“When you give up four goals in about 10 minutes, you have to try to change things,” Therrien said. “This is the reason why (we switched). We have confidence in Sabourin so why not put him out there and try to change the momentum in the game.”
Sabourin didn’t allow a goal in the third period, overtime or shootout. He stopped 11 shots and six shootout attempts. In fact, Sabourin is 3-0 in shootouts this season, and has stopped his past 13 straight shooters.
“I’m trying to challenge those guys so they don’t score on the shot,” Sabourin said of his shootout technique. “They have to deke me so they have to work for it. I just want to make sure they score on a shot.”>
Therrien will start Fleury on Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres at Mellon Arena. Fleury will finally have a chance to show off his special “Winter Classic” goalie mask.
The mask features the old skating Penguin logo on one side and his No. 29 on the other with a blend of gold and blue colors. Fleury wore the mask at practice on Friday for the first time.
“I got lots of comments from the guys,” Fleury said. “It feels good that they noticed.”
Fleury had the mask last season for the game, but was injured and didn't participate in the game. He will finally wear his mask as well as the rest of his "Winter Classic" gear.
The Penguins will don their alternate uniforms, including their blue "third jersey," for the first time this season against the Sabres. Pittsburgh will sport the alternate uniform for 11 select home games this season. Archive