ON THE PENGUINS 5-1 WIN OVER MONTREAL
The Pittsburgh Penguins had a strong bounce game, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 on Wednesday night at the Consol Energy Center. Here were some key Takeaways:
MALKIN SETS THE TONE
Evgeni Malkin set the tone from his very first shift and was the catalyst and the best player on the ice. The Malkin we saw last night, who was a dominant imposing force is the type of play from him you don’t see on a consistent basis but when he plays like he did vs the Canadiens, he’s right back in the argument as the NHL’s best player in the game.
Malkin tortured Habs defenseman Andrei Markov on the night who looked a pylon out there. Malkin had a goal, assist and plus-3 rating in the win, earning the games No. 1 star.
BYLSMA GETS THE RIGHT MATCHUP
The Penguins best line right now is Jussi Jokinen – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal. In Montreal, PK Subban drove Sidney Crosby nuts during a contest earlier this season and Bylsma who is normally not a big matchup guy, countered by using the Malkin line up against Subban.
The move worked greatly in the Penguins advantage as the Malkin line produced three even strength goals with Subban on the ice, getting a two goal night from Jussi Jokinen and a goal from Evgeni Malkin who blew by Markov for about the 10th time in the game, leading to the goal with 4:56 left in the second period to put the Penguins up 5-1.
The Penguins got Subban off his game who also had to clean up Markov’s mess for much of the night. Subban really struggled in breaking the puck out, icing the puck twice in the row that led to Jussi Jokinen’s second goal of the game at 5:46 of the second period. Pittsburgh made Montreal pay for their mistakes and undisciplined play as Taylor Pyatt and Sidney Crosby scored power play goals.
Pittsburgh won the special teams battle going 2 of 5 on the power play and 3 for 3 on the penalty kill.
“Pittsburgh was hungry to play,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. “When you’re facing a team like that and you give them an opportunity to put their power play on the ice and we took some bad penalties and it will hurt you.”
Overall it was a dominant game in all phases. “Pittsburgh is the best team in the conference, and they were the best team tonight,” Therrien said.
The Penguins were much improved defensively and the shutdown pair of Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik played very well. “We definitely buckled down, especially defensively,” Sidney Crosby said. “Didn’t give them a ton and when we did Fleury made some great saves and we generated some good chances and capitalized on them.”
PYATT MAKING HIS MARK AS A NET-FRONT GUY
Taylor Pyatt is making a bit of an impact over the last couple games with two goals in his last three games. The Penguins added Pyatt on waivers because of a need for size and Pyatt’s been very effective in using his size in front of the net. Not the best skater, but he didn’t even look that bad on Sidney Crosby’s right wing for a few shifts.
FLEURY ALMOST CAPS OFF STRONG NIGHT WITH A FIGHT
Like most of his teammates, Marc Andre Fleury rebounded with a very strong performance and almost capped the night off with a goalie fight. After a scrum in front of the Penguins net, Fleury skated towards center ice to fight Montreal’s Peter Budaj but Fleury couldn’t deke referee Kyle Rehman who broke things up before Fleury and Budaj got at each other.
Fleury was all smiles afterwards but unless he took some lessons from Brent Johnson, he might have been in trouble as it was revealed after the game that Budaj is trained in martial arts.
TIDBITS: The Penguins have re-assigned Zach Sill……The Dallas Stars have placed on Dustin Jeffrey on waivers. The Penguins have the first opportunity to reclaim Jeffrey and send him to the minors, though, the team does not plan to claim Jeffrey.