PENGUINS 3 – KINGS 0
The Pittsburgh Penguins extended their winning streak to three games with a 3-0 shutout win over the defending Stanley Cup Champs on Thursday night. Two first period power play goals and a 36 save shutout from Marc Andre Fleury fueled the win.
Chris Kunitz led the Penguins 2 goals, assist.
What stood out with the Penguins is the gritty game some of the stars played with, namely Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Crosby was driving to the net with an authority and Evgeni Malkin was playing with intensity and mixing things up.
Those type of little things have to become a common thing with this group if they’re going to take the next step, notably playing with emotion the right way.
“A couple times he [Jason Williams] asked me, ‘let’s go, let’s go’. It’s not fight, it’s just tough battle,” Evgeni Malkin said of his battle with Jason Williams.
The Penguins started 7-2-0 last season, they are 6-2-1 at the nine game mark this season. Fast starts are nothing new with this group. The Penguins are averaging 4.00 goals per game and are 15-38 on the power play. Here’s why management, though, is determined to add another scorer and they’re not just counting on Beau Bennett.
The Penguins remain top heavy and reliant on special teams.
Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist have been on the ice for 61% of the Penguins goals this season, Chris Kunitz 58%, Evgeni Malkin 53%.
Pascal Dupuis 27%, Brandon Sutter 19%, Blake Comeau 16%, Steve Downie 14%, Nick Spaling 8%, Marcel Goc 5%.
— The Kings outshot the Penguins 36-23 and at even strength 24-16, including 42 shot attempts to the Penguins 25 at 5 v 5. Yet, the Penguins did a solid job of not giving up high quality chances and Kings players afterwards admitted they didn’t make things tough enough on Marc Andre Fleury.
” He [Fleury]; made the saves he was supposed to make,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said via NHL.com. “I don’t think he really had very many hard saves, quite honestly. He got to see the puck.”
Pittsburgh has a 42.4 CF% during that span and have won by a combined score of 14-3 during their three game winning streak. For a team like the Penguins that score goals in bunches, a high CF% doesn’t mean as much as it would to a Boston or LA.
— The Penguins speed caused the Kings problems, leading to penalties. “I thought we earned some penalties tonight,” Penguins head coach Mike Johnston said. “They probably didn’t want to give us that many, with our power play. But a lot of the times, you fight for space and a guy has to make a choice. He either has to let you go or else he’s going to have to interfere with you.”
Dustin Brown on the Penguins speed. “We were too slow so we had to take penalties.”
— Simon Despres has put together the best four game stretch of his career. Team-high seven hits vs Kings and it’s his ability to carry the puck up with poise that has been a dramatic change in his game. Despres zone entries have been very good of late.
Even though Olli Maatta is set to miss some time starting next week, the best move for the Penguins is to not put too much on Despres plate and keep him in a third pairing role. Despres and Robert Bortuzzo were a very effective pairing in Wilkes Barre, likely best route for Penguins to go when Maatta exits the lineup.