More than one drought came to an end last night.
Ruslan Fedotenko scored his first goal in 14 games (about time). Evgeni Malkin netted his first in six. And, perhaps most importantly, the power play finally converted after having yet another bad night.
When Malkin’s slap shot found the back of the net with Panthers’ defenseman Jordan Leopold in the box early in overtime, it not only gave the Pens a 3-2 win, it got the PP off the hook…at least for now. The 4-on-3 tally came after an 0-for-5 performance in regulation, including three straight man advantages in the third period. Keep in mind Florida entered the game with the league’s 29th-ranked penalty-killing unit.
Backup goaltender Brent Johnson might have made the play of the game when he stoned Jeff Taffe’s breakaway with about 4:00 left in regulation to keep the score tied. Great save, and another solid performance from Johnson (29 saves) in relief of Fleury.
Pascal Dupuis scored a goal – making it two games in a row – and now has 9 this season, tied for second on the team.
The Penguins were physical throughout the game, possibly in an effort to take advantage of a team playing on back-to-back nights. FSN flashed a graphic with about 9:00 left that showed a 31-11 advantage in hits. Some highlights: Brooks Orpik destroying Radek Dvorak on more than one occasion and leveling Michael Frolik in open ice; Craig Adams skating over/through Dmitry Kulikov a couple times.
On a related note, a stat provided by FSN showed Pittsburgh leading the league, as a team, in hits with 920. Think about that for a second. One of the league’s most talented and skilled teams (if not and arguably the most) is also its most physical. Impressive. Very impressive.
Pens are now 22-10-1 overall and 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Next up: a home-and-home Tuesday and Thursday with Philadelphia, a team that is – to put it mildly – struggling. More on our hated rivals tomorrow.