DET Goal Scorers:Niklas Kronnwall (1st, 13:54); Jiri Hudler (3rd, 2:48)
PIT – Marc Andre Fleury (15 saves on 16 shots) | Brad Thiessen (15 saves on 16 shots)
DET – Jimmy Howard (17 saves on 20 shots) | Joey McDonald (6 saves on 6 shots)
1. Evgeni Malkin (1G – 1A – 2Pts – +2)
2. Joe Morrow (1 assist – 21:05 TOI)
3. Pavel Datsyuk (2 assists)
Post-Game Analysis on Evgeni Malkin’s two-way play and role on the power play, Joe Vitale’s underrated performance, Joe Morrow drawing rave reviews and Chris Kunitz being under the radar in the goal scoring department:
*Evgeni Malkin showed tonight that he is back. Malkin had that 2008-2009 season type of swagger about him and shined offensively with a goal and an assist but it wasn’t necessarily his offensive production that stood out. It was his two-way game, most notably his ability to create turnovers and takeaways.
Malkin was active early and often at both ends of the ice.
On Pittsburgh’s opening goal, James Neal did an excellent job on the forecheck and Malkin had a take away on the right sideboards and hit Chris Kunitz with a beautiful cross-ice feed and Kunitz buried one past Howard giving Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.
In the second period, Malkin notched his first goal of the preseason beating defenseman Garnet Exelby wide with a power move and driving to net, beating Howard glove side with a quick backhand to forehand goal.
Malkin finished the night with a stat line of 1 goal, 1 assist and a +2 rating. Somehow he was credited with zero takeaways. That wasn’t the case.
*The Penguins were 1-for-3 on the power play, getting a second period power play at 13:25 from Matt Niskanen.
The Penguins ran a top unit of Chris Kunitz – Evgeni Malkin – James Neal down low with Kris Letang and Paul Martin at the point.
What we saw tonight was the Penguins using Evgeni Malkin as somewhat of a floater. That is a good barometer of what to expect from him when Sidney Crosby returns.
Malkin spent a lot of time on the left side but was not stationary by any means. I did like the movement of Malkin giving the opposition different looks, including a set play where he moved up top for a hard slap shot from the point.
The first unit also seemed to trying to run set plays for James Neal in the high slot.
*Evgeni Malkin is not generating the only buzz of the night. 2011 first round pick Joe Morrow is drawing rave reviews from observers. Morrow (1 assist) was excellent on the breakout and from a skillset standpoint, he showed tonight to those who haven’t seem him in action yet, why the Penguins were so drawn to him in the draft. He will be a good one in 3 to 4 years.
*Richard Park was a minus-2 and 2-for-7 in the face-off circle. However, he continued to impress on the penalty kill.
*Underrated performance tonight came from Joe Vitale who led the Penguins with 4:25 of ice shorthanded and was 10-for-16 on draws.
*James Neal was aggressive on the forecheck and had a team-high 4 hits in the game. Being a consistent presence on the forecheck is something the coaching staff is stressing as a priority for him.
*Chris Kunitz ability as a goal scorer is under the radar. His 23 goals in 66 games last season goes unnoticed and he should push for another 23-25 goal season in a contract year…..if he can stay healthy
The Penguins went with a normal preseason type of d-pairings, pairing a regular with a young player. Paul Martin – Carl Sneep, Joe Morrow – Kris Letang and Philip Samuelsson – Matt Niskanen were the pairings.
Jordy Mercer clubbed a grand slam in the top of the sixth, leading the Pirates (65-61) to a 5-3 win over the Brewers. With runners on second and third with two outs, the Brewers intentionally walked Francisco Cervelli to pitch to Mercer who made Matt Garza pay for hanging a slider.
The grand slam was Mercer’s 10th home run of the season. The shortstop is on pace for a career high 13 home runs and 63 RBI.
Ryan Vogelsong improved to 3-3 on the season. Vogelsong allowed 4 hits and 2 earned runs over 4 1/3 innings. He struck out 6 and walked 4.
The Pirates with the win trail the Cardinals by 2.5 games for the second wildcard spot.
Cam Heyward suffers high ankle sprain in final dress rehearsal