Pittsburgh 4 – Florida 2
PIT Goal Scorers: Pascal Dupuis (1), Matt Cooke (3), Richard Park (shorthanded), James Neal (2)
FLA Goal Scorers: Marcel Goc (1), Tomas Fleischmann (1)
Goaltending Matchup: PIT Marc Andre Fleury (3-0-0), 32 saves on 34 shots, .941) | FLA Jose Theodore (1-1-0), 25 Saves on 29 Shots, .862
1. Pascal Dupuis: 1 Goal, 1 Assists, +1, 17:05 TOI
2. Joe Vitale: 2 Assists, +1, 69.2 Face Off % (9 of 13)
3. Richard Park: 1 Goal, 60.0 Face Off % (9 of 15)
Post-Game Buzz & Observations
The Pittsburgh Penguins felt coming into the season that they were much more equipped to play without Sidney Crosby and they are proving it through four games.
The Penguins improved to 3-0-1 without Crosby this season and 26-13-5 in their last 45 games without their star captain, defeating the Florida Panthers, 4-2 on Tuesday night at the Consol Energy Center.
Playing without Evgeni Malkin has also been no problem for the Penguins, as team’s impressive depth has fueled their 3-0-1 start.
Matt Cooke notched his team leading 3rd goal of the season and continues to shine this season with his primary focus on playing the game and not trying to deliver that big hit every shift which has made him a poster boy for what’s wrong with head shots.
“I’ve learned in the past that these things are streaky,” Cooke said following the game. “When you’re playing with confidence and you feel good, you get your head up and you make some plays.”
The Penguins depth continues to overwhelm the opposition so far. The team has 10 different goal scorers.
Pascal Dupuis earned the games No. 1 star, James Neal and Richard Park also scored the Penguins who improved to 23-14-7 all-time in home openers.
The Penguins once again got excellent production from their role players. Second-year center Joe Vitale is off to a strong start to the season, collecting had a pair of assists. Vitale continues to emerge as the Penguins best centerman, winning 9 of 13 draws (69.2%) in the victory.
“In a game that wasn’t perfect, we were a little sloppy at times and we got some big plays from people on the third and fourth lines, “ head coach Dan Bylsma said. That really put us over the edge.”
Dupuis had a goal and an assist and also logged 4:14 of ice time on the PK.
Special teams helped put the Penguins over the top as team went 5-for-5 on the PK, improving to 16-for-16 on the season. Richard Park notched the team’s 2nd shorthanded goal of the season, his first as a Penguin in nearly 16 years. The shorthanded marker was Park’s first as a Penguins since December 28, 1995.
Park went 9 of 15 on draws (60.0%) and is 16 of 27 in the face off circle on the season.
Another bright spot has been the play of both James Neal and Jordan Staal. Staal who’s finally developing a power move, drove to the net and Neal tapped in a pass from Staal, giving Pittsburgh a 4-2 lead at the 6:39 mark of the third period. Neal’s goal was a big one, taking away any momentum Florida got from Tomas Fleischmann early third period goal that cut the Penguins lead to 3-2.
Staal is at a point per game pace through four games, with a goal and 3 assists. Neal has 2 goals in four games.
Defenseman Kris Letang assisted on Pascal Dupuis first period tally, giving him 6 points through four games.
Pittsburgh went 0-for-4 on the power play and are 1-for-12 on the man-advantage in their last two games.
Marc Andre Fleury made 32 saves, improving to 3-0-0 on the season and 4-2-1 all-time in home openers.
Panthers goaltender Jose Theodore made 25 saves on 29 shots. Theodore came into the game 19-4-3 in his career vs. Pittsburgh.