In an attempt to avenge their previous matchup with the New York Islanders, the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to accomplish just that, winning 4-2 last night in Long Island.
This win is their fourth consecutive and has propelled the team into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.
But the victory didn’t come easy.
Lead behind goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped 32 of 34 shots, the Pens found themselves inside the penalty box far too often.
Head Coach Dan Bylsma went on to tell Michelle Crechiolo,
“I don’t think you can say enough about the penalty kill tonight.”
Totaling eight penalties and relinquishing seven Islander power-plays, Pittsburgh posted a brick wall, as the penalty kill–as well as Fleury–stopped every man-advantage.
And in those Islander opportunities, Fleury stonewalled forwards John Tavares and Matt Moulson all game long.
Fleury now improves to 4-2 on the year with a 2.44 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. Surrendering 14 goals so far, he has now saved 136 of 150 shots on the season.
Scoring the first goal of the game once again, the Penguins would eventually lead 3-0 in the beginning stages of the third period.
Afterwards, the Islanders quickly retaliated with two back-to-back tallys, but a New York turnover had eventually led to a Pascal Dupuis game ending empty-netter.
Offensively, the Pens had virtually everybody contribute because out of the four goals scored by Pittsburgh, not one player was able to pocket more than one point on the night.
Besides Dupuis–James Neal, Simon Despres and Brandon Sutter each had scored a goal on the night. Neal continues to be a steady goal-scorer and Sutter seems to be finding his groove. But the biggest surprise had to be Despres, who scored his second goal on the season.
The rest of the players that recorded a point managed to do so via the assist. Those skaters included: Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Chris Kunitz, Matt Cooke and Paul Martin. Evgeni Malkin surprisingly did not register a point in the contest.
Progression is being executed by the Pittsburgh Penguins in their recent match-ups.
Although they might have backtracked a little with their sin-bins this past game, the Pens worked as a team to overcome other player’s mistakes.
The game made it hard for viewers to choose only one skater who stood out for the Penguins this game. Fleury is the obvious choice, but put into perspective the amount of blocked-shots his teammates sold out for in front of him.
Even though Fleury did make an impact with some spectacular flexible butterfly saves, let’s not overlook his ice-mates keeping the puck from reaching his net.
Regarding his penalty killers, he would go on to say,
“They were awesome all night. They blocked a lot of shots, helped me around the net and a great game by them.”
Some other notes on the game, Sidney Crosby is okay after taking a puck to the face early in the second period.
The Pens captain left after Malkin’s shot ricocheted up and struck him in the nose–but had returned that period.
The Penguins next game will be tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Pittsburgh against the Washington Capitals.