Topping the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3 Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins improved their overall record to 31-10-0 and continue to reign atop the Eastern Conference with 62 points.
Receiving contributions from basically everybody, the Pens got a lift from backup goaltender Tomas Vokoun and ended (most likely) Tampa Bay’s playoff hopes.
The Pens had 11 different skaters register at least one point and three of those players got two or more on the night.
Jussi Jokinen was one of those three.
Jokinen continues to show a resurgence in his game since he changed sweaters, as he scored two goals and bagged a helper Thursday.
What’s even more impressive is that in the three games Jokinen has played for the Pens, he has recorded 5 points (3G, 2A), which is six points shy of his total he had in 33 games with Carolina already this year (11).
Pascal Dupuis and Jarome Iginla were the other two to record multiple points Thursday.
Dupuis scored the second goal of the game and assisted on two others, while Iginla logged two power play assists. For Dupuis that makes it 20 goals on the season, which ranks sixth in the NHL.
He is chasing his teammate Chris Kunitz, who scored his 21st goal of the season ranking him fifth in league for that category.
Kunitz is now five shy of his career-high in goals set last year, which is remarkable with this being a shortened season.
The other two goals scored were by Evgeni Malkin and Tanner Glass.
Yes, the game went so well for Pittsburgh that even Tanner Glass finally got a point.
Going 41 games without potting a single point, Glass got his goal on the power play 16:40 into the third period and was able to finally get the monkey off his back.
Congratulations to “Glasser.”
Brenden Morrow, Tyler Kennedy, Matt Niskanen, and Douglas Murray each recorded one assist.
Defenseman Kris Letang also registered a helper and saw 23:31 minutes of ice-time in his first game back from a lower-body injury he suffered on March 26th.
And it’s almost like he never left.
Captaining the power play and shutting down the opposition’s scoring chances, Letang showed how important he is for the team to succeed at a high-level.
Vokoun didn’t need to make a lot of saves, but he still made them when they counted.
Stopping 16 of 19 Lightning shots, Vokoun improved his overall record to 11-4-0 and now has a 2.57 goals against average with a .912 save percentage.
Pittsburgh’s going streaking again.
Remember when there was buzz about whether or not the Pittsburgh Penguins could hold up without Sidney Crosby?
Well question answered.
Fact is if you truly knew the Pens, it never was a question to begin with.
It was just an obvious observation made after the Pens lost the best player in the world (Crosby) and two straight games following a 15-game winning streak (both without Crosby).
Both games they scored one goal in each. And even more alarming they gave up a total of 10 goals, so speculation of a drop-off was to be expected, but not taken seriously.
Piling up the injuries, Pittsburgh didn’t have its two top defenseman (Letang, Paul Martin) and starting goaltender (Marc-Andre Fleury) either.
Those three are just as important to the Pens success as Crosby is.
But the organization is just as good off the ice as they are on. Which is why they currently are riding a three-game winning streak.
Unless you’re a hockey fan living under a rock, you would know that Pittsburgh’s executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero was rather busy (too say the least) this past trade deadline.
It was going to take a little time to integrate them into Pittsburgh’s uptempo schemes.
Keep in mind, the players acquired (Morrow, Murray, Iginla, Jokinen) were brought in for their veteran presence and are older than most the players already on the Pens roster.
They don’t necessarily have to show their worth now, but they are, and it’s scary.
Becoming more comfortable as the days go by, all four have filled in nicely while they wait for a few key pieces to return to the lineup.
When those pieces return, the world will finally witness Pittsburgh’s talent to its entirety.
The goal is to just get healthy.