Penguins Improve & Beat Senators; Still Need Work


May 24, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) wins a face-off against Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) during the second period in game five of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 6-2 to close out the series. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins were able to defeat the Ottawa Senators–but they still have a lot to improve on.

Topping the Sens 3-2 in a shootout, the Pens would go on to win the game by a final score of 2-1.

They were able to escape Ottawa with two points, but the Pens learned Sunday that things aren’t going as easy as they’d hope.

Scoring the first goal once again, Pittsburgh lost their lead off a bad line change and an errant pass.  And had it not been for a rock solid performance showcased by Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped 31 of 32 shots, the score might’ve been a little higher.

Turnovers and poor puck management have hampered the team as of late and nothing changed this game.  Evgeni Malkin was dishing peculiar back hand cross-ice passes and Sutter had a couple big turnovers.

The Pens seemed to have fixed their nagging penalty woes for the moment.  This is for sure a good sign for them as Malkin and Pascal Dupuis were the only ones to commit fouls, making that two straight contests with just two penalties.

The defense was spectacular.

Losing Matt Niskanen early to a lower-body injury, the defense was forced to skate five deep the rest of the game.  When the contest ended, head coach Dan Bylsma had to hold his head high because the defense emphatically held their own.

Paul Martin was phenomenal.  It was because of him specifically they were able to hold them to one goal.  One instance specifically had to be when Sutter committed a turnover in the last seconds of overtime and Martin was able to track down the forward to prevent him from scoring.

From Kris Letang to Deryk Engelland, the whole unit came together and helped stonewall the prolific Ottawa offense.

But the Pens cannot win these games with just Crosby, Malkin, and Neal.

Labeled Stanley Cup contenders nearly every year, Pittsburgh can’t get comfortable and they must remember to play with a sense of urgency.  These games are the playoffs and they must work as a team.

If the Pens continue to put Fleury in bad situations with dumbfounding turnovers, the team’s going to find that the opposition is going to put some biscuits in the basket.

So while they are improving, theres room for a lot more.

Byslma said after the game towards turnovers that to say there’s not going to be “zero ever is not ever going to be the case.”

Well that may be, but the magnitude of the turnovers the team is committing is detrimental.  The puck placement blunders have cost and/or nearly cost the Pens the game.

If the Penguins are able to harness their abilities, come together, and march like they can, the sky is the limit with this team.

Good thing right now is that the defense had a huge bounce-back and Fleury is showing us all why we he’s called “Flower”.  So far this year, Fleury has saved 76 out of 83 through three game starts.

This is huge.  Huge because after the way Fleury’s campaign ended last season, it’s relieving to know he’s able to start with a huge comeback performance.

Not to mention the huge benefits this is having on the team’s game outcomes.

Look for the Penguins to continue their momentum tonight, in Pittsburgh, versus the New York Islanders at 7:30 p.m.