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On Signature Wins, Turning point in Thursday’s game & more


The Penguins in Thursday’s 5-2 win over the Red Wings fell into another situation of chasing the game by falling down 2-0 in the first period and were lucky it was only 2-0 after twenty minutes.

What’s been obvious all season is the power play can hide a lot of issues for this club and where games can turn in a positive matter for this team is special teams and it wasn’t just the two second period power play goals that fueled Thursday’s win.

The key turning point in the game was the Penguins killing off two bad Kris Letang penalties early in the second period, a retaliatory slashing penalty at 2:35 of the second, minutes after the Penguins got back into the game on Patric Hornqvist’s power play goal, and then another Letang penalty at 8:28 of the period with the Penguins still trailing 2-1.

Those were two huge penalty kills by the Penguins as a fragile Detroit team that has lost seven of nine had every opportunity to swing the game by in their favor.

A 1:16 after the Penguins killed off Letang’s second penalty of the period, Letang scores a beautiful power play goal to tie the game at 2-2 and then it was the Malkin and Crosby show in the third.

Was Thursday’s win a signature one like the telecast was saying?

That’s a phrase way over-used after impressive wins in the fashion the Penguins won vs Detroit in scoring five unanswered goals, will have many react into believing it might become one.

Put together an impressive win tonight vs an Islanders team that caused Penguin fits last season, exposed Mike Johnston’s system, and split with the Blackhawks, then maybe the Penguins start truly turning this around and Thursday’s win turns into a signature one when we look back four to six weeks from now.

The Penguins have some positives to start being intrigued. The power play is playing with great confidence and it starts with Sidney Crosby, and the way the Penguins are pushing the pace on the attack continues to be a promising sign.

There obviously has to still be a pause with this group due to the constant inconsistencies. The schedule turns brutal this month and we’re going to find out if the coaching change ends up having a significant impact or not in the Penguins being able to turn the improved shot totals and possession numbers into results.

In nine games under Mike Sullivan, the Penguins have collected seven out of a possible 18 points. The local analytics crowd seem ready to crown the Penguins Stanley Cup Champions based on the improved advance stats under Sullivan.

In the past evaluating the Penguins was not always about wins and losses but whether they truly had the look of a Stanley Cup contender by playoff time.

Sullivan looks to be putting the right foundation in place on how the Penguins should play but now it’s all about results (wins and losses) from here on out. Huge month coming up starting tonight with the Islanders followed by a home and home with the Blackhawks.


Marc Andre Fleury is back for the Penguins tonight and will start in goal. The Penguins went 3-4-1 without Fleury and except for the debacle vs the Bruins on Dec 18, goaltending was not the issue. Despite Matthew Murray showing he’s ready to play in the NHL, there was no consideration to keeping the 21 year old up.

— Ian Cole will play after being banged up vs the Red Wings.

— Isles top pairing defenseman Johnny Boychuk is going to be sidelined for a while that will put a halt to any chance of Travis Hamonic getting traded this season.

— Sidney Crosby has three multi-point games in eight games under Mike Sullivan. He had five multi-point games in 28 games under Johnston.


Matt Cullen – Evgeni Malkin – Phil Kessel
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – David Perron
Conor Sheary – Nick Bonino – Patric Hornqvist
Kevin Porter – Eric Fehr – Sergei Plotnikov

Olli Maatta – Kris Letang
Brian Dumoulin – Ben Lovejoy
Ian Cole – Trevor Daley

Marc Andre Fleury in goal.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at

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