The Penguins 4-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night was a perfect example of the kind of offensive game head coach Dan Bylsma preaches to his team.
The Penguins outshot Carolina 52-18 and the Penguins played defense by playing offense.
“This was one of our better games with playing the way we need to play and playing for 60 minutes,” head coach Dan Bylsma said after the game.
The Penguins are a team that is at their best when they have a quick transition game going and that was a focus tonight to combat the Hurricanes forecheck.
“Our defensemen had to go back under heavy pressure, and by breaking out quickly they nullified their ability to work hard and it allowed our team to get to our game and play in the offensive zone, ” Bylsma said. “As the game went on, if you throw 50 shots at the net, then fatigue was a factor but it was because of the way our team executed and continued to play with the puck ” Bylsma said when asked if fatigue set in for the Hurricanes who were playing in back to back games.
Tuomo Ruutu one of the few bright spots for Carolina, scoring his 14th of the season in the loss, hinted at the Hurricanes being fatigued who were outplayed by the Penguins in all facets but were still tied after forty minutes.. “I think we were maybe going at like 90 percent and you have to have that 100 percent, ” Ruutu said on playing a team like Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh broke the game open in the third period on their 38th shot of the game, a Steve Sullivan power play goal to take a 2-1 lead. Pascal Dupuis and Jordan Staal added goals leading Pittsburgh to their 4th straight win.
“I thought the power-play goal at the beginning of the third was big for us. It was 1-1 after two and the shots donât mean very much until you can break through on a goalie., ” Bylsma said. “The goalie was playing really well and looked really good, but you want to keep playing on and want to keep putting pressure on their whole team, including their goalie. When you force it that way, you eventually feel like you’re going to break a team and get to their goalie, which we were able to do.”
*Two areas of Simon Despres’ game continue to evolve; His ability to bring the puck up and his shot. Despres showed again Tuesday night that his confidence level is increasing on a daily basis and he’s bringing the puck up with a purpose and a ton of confidence. That has been great to see in his game.
Another area of importance has been great improvement in increasing the velocity of his shot. This was a major weakness for Despres when drafted but he worked extremely hard at improving his shot the past couple seasons in juniors, working after practice continuously with assistant Marc Hussey and the hard work has paid off.
The buzz surrounding Despres will be whether he gets to stay up when Paul Martin returns to the lineup (likely Saturday) and Deryk Engelland returns on Saturday from his three game suspension. I’ve been told that Despres will go back down when the Penguins are fully healthy as team officials feel he will benefit defensively from more seasoning in the minors. Despres is still prone to running out of position defensively like he was on the Hurricanes first goal when Zbynek Michalek made a blunder on the breakout.
However, Despres fate with the big club might be tied to when Kris Letang returns. Letang is a ways away.
*Jordan Staal is back healthy for the first time in about two weeks and that was on display against the Hurricanes. It’s been stunning at the type of goal scorers goals he has scored this season.
*The Penguins top line of Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal have combined for 39 points in their last eight games. The three combined for 5 points on the night, highlighted by James Neal’s 21st goal of the season and Evgeni Malkin’s 2 assist night, giving him 42 pts on the season and 18 pts in his last eight games. Malkin has 10 points in his last three home games. Neal continues to shine at home with 14 goals in 16 home games this season.
This is a dominant line right now and while Malkin and Neal get all the accolades, Chris Kunitz does so many underrated things.
*The Penguins have given up under 20 shots in three of their last four games.