The Pittsburgh Penguins had the type of night they needed.
They put together an excellent first period in firing 16 shots on goal and then got the results they deserved early in the second period on an Evgeni Malkin goal 23 seconds in and Daniel Sprong’s first career goal 2:02 later.
The Penguins with a little more speed in the lineup on the wings tonight with Bobby Farnham and Bryan Rust dressing, Pittsburgh established a consistent forecheck from the drop of the puck. Some of the grit provided a bit of a spark early.
“Wanted the forecheck from Farnham and Rust is a responsible, two-way guy,” Johnston said of the lineup change and feels he got it from those two.
The Senators while quick at the forward position, have some slow footed defensemen on the backend and it played into the Penguins advantage in being able to establish a cycle and create zone time.
“We put their defense back on their heels,” Johnston said of the Penguins strong forecheck in the first period.
Meanwhile, the Penguins transition game was much improved. The Senators are a team systematically that plays a bit risky. They come aggressive with two forecheckers and the Penguins blue-liners were very effective at making quick short passes to exit the zone.
The Penguins were able to beat the Senators initial wave and then able to exit the zone as a five man unit. The best way to exploit the Penguins on the forecheck is to bring one aggressive forechecker and then have the F2 and F3 in a read and react situation. Something the Senators don’t do.
The way the Sens forecheck played into the Penguins favor.
The Penguins group of defensemen supported each other very well in avoiding the Senators pressure by taking a hit and making a soft chip to their d-partner to the left or right side. Short support among the d-men was a key in the Penguins having a numbers advantage in Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"