COL Goal Scorers: Jay McClement (2), Matt Duchene (7), David Jones (1)
COL Multi-Point Games:Jay McClement (1G-1A)
Goaltending Matchup:PIT Marc Andre Fleury (10-2-1) 24 saves | COL Semyon Varlamov (5-8-1) 27 saves
1. James Neal – 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 3 Points
2. Evgeni Malkin – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 2 Points
3. Kris Letang – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 2 Points
Post-Game Analysis & Buzz
Skill takes over after role Players tilt momentum: The Penguins can give the opposition so many looks and that was on display tonight as the team extended their home winning streak to five games. Trailing 3-1, Pittsburgh got back into the game by crashing the net and scoring the type of goal that great teams do when they are struggling and need to get something going.
Struggling defensively with sloppy plays just inside and outside their own blueline, Pittsburgh tilted momentum in the game on a Pascal Dupuis goal at 11:01 of the second period, putting home an Arron Asham rebound.
From there, Pittsburgh’s skill took over with Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Kris Letang putting the game way in the third period highlighted by Evgeni Malkin’s highlight reel goal in a great individual play and James Neal’s power play goal, his 12th of the season that put the Penguins up 5-3.
Struggles Early on: The Penguins in the first 30 minutes of the game might have been playing their worst game of the season. Defensively they were a mess with their best defensemen getting beat in 1-on-1 situations and outworked on the forecheck.
Paul Stastny not known for his forechecking ability, blew up Kris Letang on the forecheck, setting up Matt Duchene for one of the most beautiful goals of the season.
Near the end of the first, David Jones took Paul Martin to “school” on a 1-on-1 play, giving Colorado a 3-1 lead to end the first. Martin came into the game ranked 692nd out of 695 skaters with a minus-11 and while that’s an overrated stat, a big concern has been Martin’s struggles in 1-on-1 situations as he got beat badly in Saturday’s game by Jeff Skinner and tonight by David Jones.
Brooks Orpik also struggled mightily to open the game and his game was off early on.
Home Winning Streak at 5: The Penguins improved to 11-4-2 (25pts) and extended their home winning streak to five games. Pittsburgh is 6-0-2 against the Western Conference this season and 10-0-4 in their last 14 games vs the West. Pittsburgh heads out to Florida tomorrow for their annual fathers-sons trip.
DePaoli’s Post-Game Tidbits
— James Neal (12G-8A-20Pts) has now scored in all eight home games and extended his points streak to seven games, equaling his career highÂ he had with the Dallas Stars last season (Nov 29 – Dec 11). Neal has 4 goals and 7 assists in his last seven games. His third period power play goal was his 6th power play goal of the season.
— The Penguins were 1-for-7 on the power play but they have that killer instinct on the power play, where they are getting that decisive goal. Something they haven’t had in years.
— Jordan Staal (9G-5A-14Pts) evolving offensively has been something to watch. Staal continues to score goal scorers type of goals and he might be the Penguins second best “finisher” behind James Neal. Staal has 6 goals, 2 assists in his last seven games.
— The Penguins have been pleased with Alexandre Picard’s play who was a +2 in tonight’s win. Picard is playing smart, not trying to do much, making a good first pass and he had a huge block in the second period that stood out tonight.
— Arron Asham can’t be playing his role any better right now. I’m not sure why players are trying to drop the gloves with him. He’s stepping up for teammates and playing strong hockey.
— Pascal Dupuis had a good year last season but he hasn’t played better “complete hockey” on a nightly basis than he has this season so far.
— Marc Andre Fleury (10-2-1) notched his 10th win of the season and is 7-0-1 in his last eight games. During that span Fleury has stopped 202 of 214 shots.
— Tyler Kennedy returned to the lineup after missing 11 games. He had an assist and logged 15:07 of ice time.
— Kris Letang’s third period goal was his first even strength goal since November 29, 2010, a span of 72 games.
— The No. 1 power play vs No. 1 penalty kill didn’t take off as Colorado had only two power plays and Pittsburgh got the upper hand going 2-for-2 and are now 49-for-52 on the season.
— Pittsburgh scratched Eric Tangradi, Dustin Jeffrey, and Steve MacIntyre.
— The Penguins played their 59th straight game without Sidney Crosby. Team is 34-17-8 during that span.
Getting excited about Pitt hoops has become a thing again and it’s all about the guard play. Trey McGowens had 30 points and 7 rebounds, while Xavier Johnson had 18 points to lead Pitt (12-5) to a 75-62 win over No. 11 Florida State (13-4). With a downhill attack against a bigger FSU lineup, the likes of McGowens, Johnson were relentless in getting to the rim and the foul line. McGowens went 18-of-19 from the line. A great hire of a coach who is built to coach today’s player, combined with key difference makers at PG/SG has an inexperienced group looking like a potential tourney team.
Antonio Brown’s infatuation with the San Francisco 49ers continues on social media. Brown now has Jerry Rice in his corner, who says Brown wants to play for the 49ers “really badly” and has endorsed the 49ers to pursue Brown.
“He wants to come here really badly,” Rice said of Brown on 95.7 The Game.
Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus has no control of over Brown but what he should be trying to do with Brown is get him off social media immediately, get him wired in to put on a good face wherever he eventually gets traded and focus on having a monster 2019 season for leverage to rework his current contract after the 19 season for another massive payday.
ANA Receives: F Devin Shore DAL Receives: F Andrew Cogliano
Trade Buzz: The reeling Ducks continue the process of getting younger upfront with swapping the 31 year old Cogliano for the 24 year old Shore. Shore an aggressive forechecking winger, has 5 goals and 17 points in 42 games, carrying a $2.3 million cap hit through the 2019-2020 season. For Dallas, they’re getting a faster, better all-around player as of right now in Cogliano, who can play all three forward positions that brings a ton of speed to the lineup and durability. Getting faster was the key to the deal for Dallas. Still, there is some risk. The underlying numbers are good but he’s having a down year with 3 goals in 46 games and Cogliano carries a $3.125 million cap hit through the 2020-2021 season.
Don’t plan the New England Patriots funeral just yet. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are headed to an eighth straight AFC Championship game. Brady and the Pats throttled the Los Angeles Chargers, 41-28, and this one was over by halftime as the Patriots roared to a 35-7 lead at the half. Brady torched the Chargers, going 33/43 for 343 yards and 1 touchdown. New England did what they wanted on offense, scoring touchdowns on five of their first six drives. Sony Michel starred in the running game with 129 yards, 3 TD’s. Philip Rivers falls to 5-6 in his playoff career.
—KC opens up as a 3-point favorite for the AFC title game—