MOMENTUM SWINGS, FINDING THAT NEXT LEVEL
What has made the Penguins a much more dangerous teams than earlier in the season and even last year, is a lot of factors that have been talked about for weeks now, but the one element that could make them a tough out in a playoff series even without Evgeni Malkin is their ability to take their game to another level when they get a goal to climb back into a game or take control of a game.
Pittsburgh has evolved into a team again that can be getting outplayed and can turn that switch on out of nowhere.
Today’s thumping of the Detroit Red Wings, 7-2, saw Pittsburgh pounce on the Wings with 4 second period goals.
Trailing 1-0, Chris Kunitz scored 20 seconds into the period two with a nice bounce off the boards and the Penguins just found that other gear and took control of the game immediately from there and poured it one.
In the first period, the Red Wings created a number of Grade-A chances, including a breakaway goal but the ice was dramatically tilted in Pittsburgh’s favor over the final forty minutes and it started right away after the Kunitz goal.
The Penguins embarrassed Detroit as Wings coach Jeff Blashill said afterwards. Scoring a season-high seven goals is a feat in itself when Sidney Crosby only came out of the afternoon with one assist.
The day offensively belonged to Phil Kessel (1 goal, 4 assists), Nick Bonino (1 goal, 4 assists), and Carl Hagelin (2 goals, 0 assists).
Carl Hagelin’s goal at 11:58 of the second period to put the Penguins up 3-1 highlighted how the Penguins embarrassed Detroit all over the ice in the period as he out-muscled the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Kyle Quincey leading to the goal.
Pittsburgh’s ability to provide major momentum swings was the story of the 7-2 win and has been a key development since the coaching change in becoming the dangerous offensive team they are again.
DUMOULIN, KUNITZ INJURED IN THE WIN
The win did come costly, namely injuries to Brian Dumoulin and Chris Kunitz.
Dumoulin has been ruled out for Sunday’s game vs the Rangers after getting hit from behind minutes into the game, while Kunitz has been labeled as a game-time decision.
Kunitz went to the locker room after this pic.twitter.com/sjvisAtrH4
— Stephanie (@myregularface) March 26, 2016
Pavel Datsyuk delivered a cheap open ice hit on Kunitz in the second period that saw Kunitz leave the game and not return. Kunitz was not diagnosed with a concussion as of the afternoon but important for the Penguins to be safe and sit him tomorrow with the type of hit he took and how symptoms sometimes don’t show for a couple days.
On Dumoulin, he tried to return from the nasty hit he took but did not play in the final two periods.
With Dumoulin and Maatta now out, Derrick Pouliot who has been in exile with the coaching staff, moves back in the lineup. Pouliot and Lovejoy will be paired together. The two have been paired for just north of 100 minutes 5 v 5 this season.