In Pittsburgh, it has always been about how the star players perform. Thus far, the stars for the most part have been lacking. But tonight, the star players finally began to shine and helped the Penguins to victory.
In Pittsburgh, Crosby and Malkin have been known as “the two-headed monster.” After the arrival of Phil Kessel in the offseason, there is a new monster in town.
The three headed monster: which consists of Crosby, Malkin, Kessel.
Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel each had a goal en route to a 3-2 OT win against the Panthers.
The monster isn’t just good. It’s SCARY good. And all the members of the three headed monster brought their ‘A’ game tonight.
Crosby finally looked like himself. He was flying on his skates, stick-handling with ease, making great passes…and FINALLY, he was shooting the puck. He had 9 shots tonight.
Crosby shot the puck at almost every opportunity he had, and that’s what he needs to do to be successful. I can’t say much else besides “wow” about Crosby’s game. He really turned it around 180 degrees from his first 5 games. I’m not sure what changed, but he needs to keep doing whatever he’s doing. He had a goal and 2 assists tonight, tallying his first 3 points of the season.
In the early going of the season, Malkin has been arguably the Penguins’ most dominant forward from game 1 until this point. Malkin is technically on pace for 41 goals, which would be quite impressive. Malkin registered a goal and an assist tonight, and had plenty of chances to add even more to his point total.
Kessel has been fairly consistent as well, although he has not stood out quite as much as Malkin has. He is getting opportunities every game, and it’s just a matter of time before he really hits a hot streak. I still believe Kessel would work better with Malkin (and I will stand by that regardless of what others may think), but him and Sid did look better tonight than they have so far this season. Kessel had a goal in the 3rd period.
Although the three headed monster shined tonight, Kris Letang also put up 2 assists. Letang looked decently solid in this game, and got rewarded with 2 points. I really would love to see Letang win the Norris Trophy this year, but he has a long way to go. Getting 2 points tonight does help his cause though. That being said, Letang was on the ice for both Panthers goals. That was his downside tonight, but even the good players have some bad moments and bad/average games. Not a concern at all.
This game was a very crazy one, especially the third period. So for those of you that didn’t get to watch or maybe didn’t follow what was going on, here is my reap of the game tonight.
The Penguins had yet to score a power play goal this season, which seems quite odd with the personnel that they are able to put on the ice. Tonight, it wasn’t a problem.
Captain Sidney Crosby rifled a shot past Luongo after receiving a beautiful cross-ice pass from Malkin. It was Crosby’s first point of the season AND the Penguins’ first power play goal of the season, and he was “smiling like a butcher’s dog.”
I will note that a ton of credit goes to Kunitz on this goal. He was parked in front of the net and never really allowed Luongo to even see the puck clearly. Kunitz did not get an assist on the goal, but he played a huge part in the power play goal by Crosby.
Pens 1 Panthers 0
With just over 5 minutes left in the period, Crosby came flying through the neutral zone with the puck. He split the defense, was tripped up, and still got a shot away while lying on his stomach. Crosby really just played an incredible game. If he buried this chance, he has what could have been the goal of the year in the NHL… but not to be. The Penguins got a power play chance out of Sid’s great effort, but could not score.
The Penguins simply dominated the first period, registering 16 shots and kept the Panthers on their heels.
About 4 minutes into the period, the Penguins came into the zone in a 3 on 2. Kessel skated the puck into the zone and dropped a pass to the trailing player Chris Kunitz, who fired a one-timer from the high slot. It was a great chance, but Luongo made a huge save.
With just under 2 minutes to play in the period, the Panthers were possessing the puck in the zone towards the end of a power play. Pirri wound up and took a hard low slap shot that was directed on goal by Florida forward Vincent Trocek, but Fleury found a way to keep the puck between his legs.
There were no goals in the 2nd period, and score remained 1-0 Penguins.
Get ready, this period was full of some interesting action.
Just over a minute into the period, Florida defensemen Gregory Campbell took a slap shot from the point. The shot was a high one, and was deflected in by Reilly Smith past Fleury. After the puck went in, Fleury immediately began telling the referees that he thought it was a high stick on the puck.
It was an awfully close call, and considering it was a goal on the ice, I personally did not think there was quite enough evidence to overturn it. After review, the call WAS overturned, and they determined that the puck was deflected in by a high stick. The Penguins caught a huge break here, and remained up 1-0.
Not long after that, the Penguins took advantage of the no goal call, and scored a goal of their own. Crosby once again came flying into the zone with the puck, split the defense, but just lost control of the puck. However, Crosby got control of the puck back right after losing it and whipped a quick pass to the point where Rob Scuderi fired a quick one-time shot on Luongo. Kessel then pounced on the rebound and buried it, and gave the Penguins a huge goal.
Pens 2 Panthers 0
With just under 10 minutes to play, the Panthers finally struck back. Quinton Howden made an absolutely spectacular play in front of Fleury. He somehow corralled the puck on a rebound while being pressured from Letang, and found a way to get air under his shot and put it past Fleury. Credit to Howden on this goal. Incredible effort, not much the Penguins could do on that one.
Penguins 2 Panthers 1
Just a few minutes later, the Penguins seemed to have scored their third goal of the game. Crosby fired a bad angle shot on Luongo, and Kunitz skated hard to the net like he always does and just stuffed the puck home. It was determined, however, that Kunitz forced the pads of Luongo into the net, and therefore, the goal did not count. The score remained 2-1.
Not even a minute after what looked like a possible 3-1 Penguins lead, the Panthers tied the game at 2 on a goal by Derek MacKenzie. This goal was really the result of a lucky play. A shot was fired wide by a Florida Panther player, and one of the players behind the net whacked the puck out into the slot, and it just happened to find the stick of MacKenzie, who ripped a shot past Fleury before he could react. All of a sudden, it wasn’t looking good for the Penguins.
Pens 2 Panthers 2
With seconds remaining, the Panthers had the puck in the Penguins zone and had a ton of pressure. It almost looked like they were going to end the game in regulation. Fleury was without a goal stick, and the Penguins were in full chaos mode. Then, Panther forward Jonathan Huberdeau took a cross checking penalty against Brian Dumoulin that put the Penguins on the power play with 24 seconds left. They did not score, but the PP carried into overtime.
The power play came through again in overtime, as Evgeni Malkin rifled a one-timer past Luongo to end the game and give the Penguins the victory.
The Panthers challenged that the Penguins entered the zone offside before the goal, but there was no conclusive evidence to overturn it.
The call stood, and the Penguins came out with the W. Their 3rd straight.
Final OT: Pens 3 Panthers 2
This recap went into a little more depth, so I will keep my impressions extremely brief (there are only 2):
- The power play finally came though. Twice actually. Hopefully that is a continuing trend.
- Sprong did not play tonight because he had to deal with Visa problems. My hope? He is extending his Visa to stay in Pittsburgh a little longer than expected. I am not sure if that is true, but that is what I hope is the case. Expect to see him back in action of Thursday.
As always, thanks for those who keep up with me! I will try to have a blog up either Thursday night or Friday mid-day discussing the Penguins final game of their current 5 game home stand against the Dallas Stars.
A little chance for some revenge…