Defenseman Sergei Gonchar returned to the lineup Saturday night after a missing four games with a right foot injury and Gonchar made quite an impact.
The 35 year old defenseman powered the Penguins to a 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, scoring 2 goals and adding an assist in the Penguins first road victory since December 19th.
It was Gonchar’s first two goal game of the season and might have been Gonchar’s most complete game of the season. Gonchar had 6 shots on goal along with a plus/minus rating of +3 and 5 blocked shots.
“It was a pretty big effort back there from our blue line and Gonch {Sergei Gonchar} is a big part of that,” Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said. “It’s nice to have that confident guy back there, a leader back there.”
Gonchar had three points on the night while defensemen Mark Eaton and Alex Goligoski each added an assist.
The offensive production the Penguins got from their blueline Saturday night is the kind of production they expected on a more consistent basis this season.
A positive sign for the Penguins moving forward is that Gonchar has 12 points in his last 11 games and when healthy, could be in line for a big second half of the season. Since 2008-2009, Pittsburgh is 38-12-5 with Sergei Gonchar in the lineup, compared to 35-33-5 when he’s not in the lineup.
Pittsburgh improved their record to 28-17-2 with Saturday’s win and have now won two out of their last three games.

Penguins scouting St. Louis?

Got an email this morning from a friend in the St. Louis media who said Pittsburgh had two scouts in attendance for the Blues-Kings game last night.
I’m told to look for plenty of rumblings surrounding the Blues and Penguins in the next couple weeks. St. Louis will be among the biggest sellers at the trade deadline.
The two sides scouted each other extensively last winter, which only resulted in a minor trade that sent Danny Richmond to St. Louis.
Meanwhile, the Blues are looking to get younger and veterans Paul Kariya, Keith Tkachuk, Daryl Sydor, Mike Weaver are on the trade block and the Blues are getting plenty of calls about forward Brad Boyes. The asking price for Boyes is steep at this moment, but he is in play for the “right offer.”
However, last night Kariya and Tkachuk did not play. Just a normal scouting trip for Pittsburgh, although Kings GM Dean Lombardi continues to be infatuated with players on the Penguins roster.
Pittsburgh is expected to evaluate Kariya very closely when he returns from injury but his salary and inconsistent play could turn them off.

Crosby tied for third in the league in goals

Who would have imagined that through 46 games Sidney Crosby would be third in the league in goals. Crosby tallied his 27th goal of the season Saturday night and is only one goal behind Marian Gaborik (28) and two goals behind Patrick Marleau, who leads the NHL with 29 goals.
Two big reasons for Crosby’s goal production this season is that he actually has confidence in his shot and he’s shooting the puck more. Last night he had a team high 8 shots on goal.