*– Coming off an embarrassing 7-4 loss Wednesday night, the table was set Friday night for a rebound game from the Penguins and goaltender Marc Andre Fleury.
Tampa Bay played the night before, they were missing three of their top six forwards and this was a very winnable game.
Pittsburgh took advantage of those factors and took care of business Friday night, defeating Tampa Bay 5-1 at the Consol Energy Center behind a stout defensive effort and role players stepping up.
Pittsburgh got goals from Pascal Dupuis (5), Alex Goligoski (4), Max Talbot (3), Sidney Crosby (11) and Deryk Engelland (1) in the win. Crosby had a goal and assist in the game has now recorded four straight multi-point games.
Pascal Dupuis and Max Talbot each had a goal and an assist in the win. Pittsburgh improved to 8-8-1 with the win and face the Atlanta Thrashers tonight on the road.
*– The game plan for Pittsburgh was to have structure defensively and with the Lightning lacking offensive depth due to injuries, Pittsburgh did exactly that.
They were able to key on the Lightning’s top unit and the Penguins clamped down on defense, limiting the Lightning to 16 shots in game and the Penguins were strong in all areas defensively.
Their gap control was extremely good giving Tampa Bay little life through the neutral zone to attack the Penguins offensively. Tampa Bay only had 9 shots through two periods.
Most importantly, what the Penguins did against Tampa Bay defensively was make things easier for their goaltender. They got in front of pucks, kept the Lightning to the outside and when they needed a big save, they got it from Marc Andre Fleury who made 15 saves to earn his 2nd win of the season and 150th career win.
This was a momentum builder for Fleury who was all smiles after the game. A lot of buzz after the game was Fleury’s positioning and the fact that he is no longer using his poke check.
Lightning players said after the game that Fleury looked like a different goaltender and the intention of getting rid of the poke check of no longer being a regular part of his game, is to limit Fleury from opening himself up.
*– The Penguins penalty kill unit came up huge for the Penguins. Pittsburgh killed off 7 of 8 penalties and they were extremely active against Steven Stamkos in 5-on-4 situations. They made one mistake, giving Stamkos an open shooting lane on his power play goal in the third but that was about it.
8– Last night was a rebound game for the entire squad but also for players on an individual standpoint. One of those players who rebounded with a strong performance was defenseman Zbynek Michalek.
Michalek had his best game in a Penguins uniform. He was active in all areas of the ice and played lock down defense against Stamkos and Co. It should not be surprising that Michalek looked like a different player as the Penguins actually played a “structure” type of game.
*– Chris Conner made his season debut skating on the third line with Mark Letestu and Tyler Kennedy. Conner had 11:48 of ice time and was a +1 in the game.
He did his part in using his speed to make things happen and he got himself involved in the offensive zone. Something we haven’t been able to say much of Mike Comrie who was scratched for the second straight game.
*– The Penguins were extremely good on the wall and they were also good on the wall against Boston in spite of their third period collapse Wednesday night. With so many role players in their lineup who excel at playing a “grinders” type of game, the Penguins are at their best when creating offense down low, winning battles on the wall and getting traffic in front.
*– Since his demotion to the 4th line against the New Jersey Devils in the third game of the season (which only lasted for one game), Pascal Dupuis has been the Penguins most complete winger.
Dupuis had an excellent all around game and was a major factor on the PK and on the backcheck.
On the offensive end, Dupuis had a goal and assist and is the Penguins second leading goal scorer with 5 goals.