A 2-4 night on the power play and a perfect 7-for-7 on the penalty kill, fueled a Penguins 3-1 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
Special teams has been the story through the first four games for Pittsburgh.
In the second period the Penguins scored two power power play goals in a 55 second span from Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist. Malkin’s power play goal at 13:49 of the second period, during a 5-on-3, was a turning point in the game.
“When you get a 5-on-3 opportunity as they had and then we had right after, those are turning points,” Mike Johnston said. “We scored and they didn’t. It was the difference in the game.”
The puck movement of the Penguins top power play unit has been sensational and a surprise has been Kris Letang. In the past Letang has long been wildly inconsistent on the power play and not an ideal fit as the No. 1 power play quarterback. Letang, though, has come into this season in a real comfort zone despite the trade speculation over the summer and his decision making process has been great as the quarterback on the top unit.
“I thought Kris Letang has done a very good job,” Johnston said of Letang’s presence as the power play quarterback.
— Patric Hornqvist who fired a team-high 12 shots on goal, had a big night with 2 goals and 1 assist. He added an empty netter with 1:20 left to play.
Hornqvist continues to add a key element for the Penguins they’ve lacked, the ability to cause havoc in the crease area and in around the net. You can’t teach the type of style he plays.
“[He’s] unbelievable because he’s a good shot, moves the puck and he’s coming to the net,” Evgeni Malkin said of Hornqvist. “Every time I have the puck, he goes to the net. If Sid has the puck, he’s going to the net.”
Malkin himself had quite a strong night playing a 200 ft game and when he plays a complete game like he did vs the Islanders, playing with intensity and back checking hard, few players are better than him.
— The loss for the Islanders was a frustrating one after going 0-for-7 on the power play. “We just weren’t as crisp as we’ve been on the power play,” John Tavares said via Newsday. “For whatever reason, we weren’t sharp.”
Although Rob Scuderi still played 4:16 on the penalty kill, the Penguins made some changes in splitting Scuderi and Paul Martin up more often. Martin was used more with Olli Maatta and Kris Letang on the PK, a change from the previous three games.
“Our penalty killers were outstanding,” Mike Johnston said.
The Penguins gave up just 10 power play shots on seven opportunities and the team has needed their goaltender to be their penalty killer and Fleury was Saturday night.
“I thought Fleury was really sharp down low in around the crease,” Johnston said.