One, two, three power-play goals for the Penguins. Over a month ago, that would have been impossible.
Sunday night’s 5-3 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets was bolstered by three power-play goals. That night alone the Penguins were 50 percent on the power play. In the past four games, they’ve been 6-for-18.
Midway through February, the Penguins switched some things around in an attempt to combat a dismal nine-game power-play slump.
Puck circulation followed. Bodies, in addition to the puck, moved around as well, especially in front of the net. The first power-play goal against Columbus, scored by David Perron for his third of the season, came on a 5-on-3.
“Our game’s getting better in some areas. Power play’s a big part of it. You don’t get very many and when you get them, you better capitalize on the,” head coach Mike Johnston said. “The five on three was a key turning point for us.”
To add to the hot streak, Derrick Pouliot, wide open for a rebound, had his first power-play goal as a Penguin. He’s seen some time next to Kris Letang on the unit and has been showing improvement since the pairing began.
“(My game’s) improved a lot, especially from the start when I got there on the power play with those guys,” Pouliot said. “Feeling better, making the right decisions and things are clicking.”
Thanks to a second-period goal on the man-advantage, Evgeni Malkin now leads the team with nine power-play goals. He’s been telling the team to relax lately and was nothing less than Zen against Columbus. But with giving up a goal six minutes into the third period, he’s also realistic.
“(The power play was) very important but we lost one goal shorthand they scored, it’s not great, but we had a 5-on-3 goal. It’s working. Just keep it going,” Malkin said.
The improvement on special teams is just a portion of the overall team makeover of the Penguins.
“We’ve got our confidence, power play is clicking, we’re playing well defensively,” Pouliot said. “PK’s been good and ‘Flower’ (Marc-Andre Fleury’s) been awesome for us, so it’s just confidence. We’re hot right now and we’ve got to keep that going.”