ATLANTA – If you want to win hockey games in the National Hockey League, there’s a fairly simple method to follow: win the special teams battle, play sound in the defensive zone, get quality goaltending and let your star players carry you.
The Penguins received a little of all that Saturday night in their 4-2 win over the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena.
We can breakdown those points as well:
- The Penguins penalty killers successfully killed off all five shorthanded situations, including two in the third period. Pittsburgh’s power play netted the eventual game-winning goal in the third period.
- Pittsburgh eliminated a lot of rebound opportunities and kept most of the shots to the outside perimeter and the points.
- Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was there to help out his teammates with some key saves when called upon. He stopped 31 pucks in the contest to pick up his second win in two nights.
- The stars shined for Pittsburgh. Evgeni Malkin recorded his sixth career hat trick, to go with four points, in the contest. Sidney Crosby recorded a goal and three points.
“All the way around, across the board I think it’s fair to say,” said captain Sidney Crosby
on the team’s effort. “It’s a 1-1 game and we had some big penalty kills. (Marc-Andre) Fleury made some big saves. We got a power-play goal in the third. If we keep putting games together like this, we should keep gaining confidence and getting better.”
“We played great tonight, Fleury, PK, the power play and I scored a few goals,” Malkin said.
Pittsburgh improved to 6-2 in back-to-back contests on the year, including a perfect 4-0 on the second night. The Penguins are starting to string together some quality games.
“We want to keep building,” Crosby said. “The last four or five games we’ve been playing good hockey, even if we haven’t won them all. We want to stick with things here. With the team winning and everyone gaining confidence, we’ll only get better. That’s a good sign.”
The Penguins are 6-3-1 on the road this season. They are 36-21-7 away from home since Dan Bylsma was named head coach on Feb. 15, 2009. And to win on the road, you have to play a solid game in all facets.
“Special teams was big tonight,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Our PK came up real big and we had the power-play goal. On back-to-back nights, traveling and on the road, that was a big effort from our team.”
Now the Penguins head home for three straight contests at CONSOL Energy Center. Bylsma is hoping to carry their momentum back to Pittsburgh.
“We’re going home this next week focused on getting some wins for us,” he said.