After two losses against the Detroit Red Wings and the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Penguins battled their way to their first victory of the preseason tonight, topping the Minnesota Wild in overtime with a score of 3-2.
After opening the scoring with a powerplay goal in the first period, Sutter put the game to rest as well, delivering the game winning goal two minutes into overtime. He also tied for the team lead in shots (4), and led all forwards in ice-time, seeing minutes on both the power play and penalty kill.
Noteworthy alongside Sutter’s display of leadership was the developing chemistry between him and winger Beau Bennett, who also had a solid outing. It is clear Bennett is coming into the 2014-15 season as a much more confident and comfortable player than we have previously seen. His poise and creativity with the puck has been excellent thus far, and it paid off tonight with an assist on Sutter’s opening goal, as well as several other dangerous plays.
Pittsburgh’s defensive battle in this year’s training camp got a bit more interesting as well, as Simon Despres reminded the Penguins’ coaches what he brings to the table – setting up Oskar Sundqvist’s hard fought goal in the third to tie the game, and then assisting on Sutter’s game winner in overtime.
While the preseason victory feels nice, the Penguins will be more enthused about the team developments that are starting to show themselves as the games continue. Sutter and Bennett continue to look great together, Despres seems to have picked his game up and is perhaps ready, finally, for a permanent roster spot, and both Thomas Greiss and Jeff Zatkoff have looked decent in goal in their auditions to back up Marc-Andre Fleury.
As long as they can avoid another endless pileup of injuries (here’s hoping Malkin joins Crosby in the recovery headlines soon), Pittsburgh looks to have a good chance at taking a step forward this season.