Penguins show blueprint vs Stars of why 3-Peat Chances remain high
PIT GAME LEADERS
Patric Hornqvist | Goal (20), 7 SOG
Jamie Oleksiak | Goal (5), 6 Hits
Evgeni Malkin | Goal (39, ENG), Assist
Sidney Crosby | 2 Assists
Casey DeSmith | 17 Saves
Tyler Seguin and the Dallas Stars came to town Sunday night with the Penguins on the second night of a back-to-back and Pittsburgh starting Casey DeSmith in goal.
This should have been a night that favored Dallas, except the Penguins went out and played suffocating defense, limiting the Stars to 18 shots in a Penguins 3-1 win.
“I thought that’s a team that has some dynamic people offensively. To limit them to the shots they had and number of chances they had is not an easy task. Top to bottom our team defense was as good as we’ve been all year,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said afterwards of his clubs performance.
Sunday night’s win, while against a Western Conference opponent, was still another precursor of why the Penguins are and should be heavy favorites in any first or second round series in the Metropolitan Playoff Bracket.
When this team is locked in and dominating the neutral zone like they were Sunday night, it’s going to be a daunting task for anyone in the Metro to beat the Penguins four out of seven times.
“I think it’s a blueprint to success,” Sullivan said of the Penguins defensive effort vs the Stars. “We’re capable of being every bit as good defensively as we are offensively when we pay attention to the details.”
That’s the main takeaway from Sunday night’s game against an opponent with arguably two of the top-10 forwards in the NHL on their roster.
When this group commits defensively and pursuing the puck with a vengeance like they were vs the Stars, there’s not a better team in taking away time and space and Dallas found that out as Pittsburgh held the Stars to 12 even strength shots (5-on-5).
And that’s what I always keep coming back to this with this group and the prospects of a three peat. Yes this team is vulnerable, have their share of defensive lapses when the focus is off, they’ve played a ton of hockey last two years, but we’re starting to see signs again in the stretch run here where the Penguins can beat you a number of ways and not just with offense.
“That’s a really good hockey team we played against,” said Mike Sullivan. “I was really pleased with the focus of trying to get to our game. From start to finish, this was one of the more complete efforts that we’ve had all year On both sides of the puck. Our play away from the puck was pretty good. We were stingy defensively. That’s the blueprint I think for us moving forward is we can be every bit as good defensively and away from the puck and as we are when we have the puck.”
8th 20-Goal season for Patric Hornqvist
The model of consistency, Patric Hornqvist scored his 20th goal of the season with a power play maker in the first period. That makes it eight seasons of 20 or more goals for Hornqvist and excluding the shortened lockout season, Hornqvist has scored 20 goals in eight straight full NHL seasons.
The Penguins will be hoping for at least three more 20 goal seasons from Hornqvist
Praise for the 4th Line
The Penguins don’t have enough skill on their 4th line with the wingers and it hurts them most nights lately, but the 4th line of Kunhackl-Jooris-Rowney did have an impactful night vs the Stars, especially with their work along the boards.
“I think Josh Jooris has helped us Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"