A sloppy start from the Detroit Red Wings saw the Penguins pounce on them for two first period goals from Patric Hornqvist (15) and Blake Comeau (12), en route to a 4-1 win on Wednesday night.
David Perron (14) scored his 14th goal of the season and Nick Spaling (8) also scored in the win. Perron had 9 goals in 16 games with the Penguins. Marc Andre Fleury stopped 23 of 24 shots for the win.
The Penguins were puck hounds in the first two periods and their quickness to pucks overwhelmed the Red Wings all night.
Pittsburgh got an immediate impact game from Blake Comeau in his return and while Comeau is not an ideal top-6 winger and the Penguins have been a bit leery if he can keep up the level of play he had the first three months of the season, Comeau gives Evgeni Malkin a physical presence in the corners and a sniper in the slot/around the net.
Malkin has a finisher in Comeau and two players in Comeau/Hornqvist that can win puck battles.
“That line was very good tonight and it gives us some depth,” Mike Johnston said.
With limited cap space, at the end of the day the Penguins are going to be hard pressed to put together a better second line combination on the wings than Comeau and Hornqvist.
Management pretty much knows that and is why they’re targeting the likes of Daniel Winnik to bolster the third line.
The Red Wings have overachieved this season and Red Wing players admitted tonight they were lousy.
“They were better on all levels in the first,” Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said via NHL.com. “We were slow and didn’t do what we’re supposed to do and they scored some goals. We were the ones making the turnovers. We didn’t have enough speed, so we put ourselves in situations where we were forced to make a play instead of keeping it simple and sometimes that happens.”
Mike Babcock with some entertaining quotes after the game.
The Penguins were impressive in all facets tonight and when it comes to the current playoff field in the East, the Penguins likely matchup the best against the Red Wings, a team they likely wouldn’t see until the third round if at all.
Detroit has a real issue keeping up with Pittsburgh and offensively they don’t boast a big heavy team that can wear down the Penguins like Washington gives Pittsburgh problems, and defensively they’re not a group that is built to box out the front of the net well and limit second chances, an area the Penguins really struggle at against teams that can excel in that area defensively like the Rangers.