That’s much better. A day after barely showing up in a dreadful 3-0 loss to Montreal, the Penguins trounced lowly Edmonton 5-1. Playing with only five defensemen (Matt Niskanen was a late scratch with the flu), Pittsburgh got two goals from Chris Kunitz and 28 saves from Marc-Andre Fleury to earn their 40th win of the season.
The game may have been won late in the first, when the Oilers had a two-man advantage for 1:46 in a scoreless game. Pittsburgh’s top-ranked penalty kill did its job, and Kunitz scored with 35 seconds left in the period to give the home team a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Fleury’s biggest save came early in the second, when he went splitsville to stop a Gilbert Brule shot from the high slot. The Pens would score two more in second (Talbot, Staal) to take a commanding 3-0 lead.
The Pens struggling power play ended its six-game slump. Kunitz’s second goal of the game – and 20th of the season – came with a man advantage in the third. It was the team’s first PP goal in 23 opportunities.
This was a game the Pens HAD to win. Edmonton is the worst team in the league, and the Oilers are playing without their top three leading scorers. And after Saturday afternoon’s debacle against the Habs, Pittsburgh needed to rebound with a solid effort. Missions accomplished. Fleury bounced back himself. After allowing 3 goals on 12 shots and getting yanked against Montreal, #29 turned in a very solid effort and got his 31st win of the season. He’s now 3-0 this season in games after getting pulled.
The Pens visit Ottawa Tuesday.