Pittsburgh 5 – Detroit 1
The Pittsburgh Penguins scored three first period goals and skated away to a commanding 5-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night in the team’s preseason opener and first ever game at the Consol Energy Center.
Veteran winger Ryan Craig led the way scoring two goals and Sidney Crosby, Mike Comrie and Brett Sterling also scored for Pittsburgh. Comrie scored just a 1:21 into the first period, notching the first goal at the new arena.
Sidney Crosby (goal, assist), Brett Sterling (goal, assist), Mark Letestu (2 assists) and Ryan Craig (2 goals) each had multi-point games. Crosby though left the game in the third period with what is being described as a minor hip injury.
Goaltender Marc Andre Fleury made 20 saves on 21 shots in forty minutes of work to earn the win. Despite facing a Red Wings lineup missing a number of their key players, head coach Dan Bylsma pointed out Fleury’s play in his post-game comments.
Brad Theissen replaced Fleury to open up the third period and played the entire period, making 5 saves in relief duty.
The Penguins hit the road Friday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Post-Game Thoughts & Observations
Wednesday night’s 5-1 win was about players making the most of their opportunities. Two of those players were Brett Sterling and Ryan Craig.
Sterling was presented with a prime opportunity in front of himself skating along side Sidney Crosby and played well, scoring a goal and adding an assist. Sterling created offense with his shifty playmaking ability but what should be noted about his performance is that he played bigger than what he is, winning battles in the corners and keeping plays alive down low in the offensive zone.
Sterling has caught the attention of the coaching staff and appears to have jumped the likes of Chris Conner, others on the organizations depth chart but let’s remember it’s still early.
*Ryan Craig who is vying for a spot on the 4th line scored two goals in the Penguins win and did himself some good. Craig played the type of 4th line type of game he needed to play, driving extremely hard to the net with consistency, which resulted in his second goal of the game putting home a Tyler Kennedy rebound.
Craig looks like the type of player who won’t make the team out of camp but will be one of those players who spends a few games here and there with the club on a callup basis.
*Mike Comrie centered Evgeni Malkin and Eric Tangradi and played with a lot of poise and command with the puck. He was impressive at times.
*Mark Letestu quietly had two assists in the game. The Penguins have been floured with his offensive ability through the early stages of camp.
*Eric Tangradi’s play in 5-on-5 situations was somewhat quiet but got pucks to the net, recording five shots in the game. He also did a solid job on the power play of playing a Ryan Malone “front presence” type of role on the power play tonight. The Penguins have yet put any extensive work into their power play up to this point.
*Those inside the organization have raved about Zbynek Michalek’s hockey instincts and he really makes his presence felt on the penalty kill. He was excellent with his positioning.
*Just because it’s the preseason doesn’t mean Brooks Orpik will take his game down a level. Orpik received a game misconduct in the 1st period for kneeing Johan Franzen, then fought Todd Bertuzzi who received an instigator.