High compete level, work-man like performance fuel Penguins win

New season, same results.

The Pittsburgh Penguins went into Washington D.C. last night and came out with a 3-2 win over the Capitals.

The Penguins again beat the Capitals with what can be categorized as a work-man like performance and what stands out over the last games, wins over the Predators and Capitals, Pittsburgh has capitalized on making key adjustments that hindered their play  to open the season against St. Louis and Chicago.

The penalty kill was disorganized vs the Blues…..

Pittsburgh was 4-for-4 on the PK vs the Capitals and have now killed 17 straight.

Poor puck management at the blueline has been replaced with smart decisions the last two games, notably patience with the puck when entering the zone that have fueled back-to-back wins.

“We got pucks in. We hung onto pucks in the offensive zone,” Mike Sullivan said of the Penguins performance. “We forced them to have to play goal line to goal line.”

Pittsburgh outshot Washington 36-22 and after allowing 44 shots against the Blackhawks, Pittsburgh has allowed 26 and 22 in the two games since.

Wednesday night’s win saw Pittsburgh score three power play goals and these weren’t goals made by a great individual shot or play. These were goals willed by a strong compete level for puck battles around the net.

A key adjustment the Penguins made was out-manning the opposition in around the net-front area and all three goals from Kris Letang, Patric Hornqvist and Conor Sheary were situations where the Penguins outnumbered the Capitals down low.

Some makeshift power play groupings also worked, including a Patric Hornqvist power play goal assisted by Tom Kuhnhackl, something that probably won’t happen again this season.

Kuhnhackl provided a strong net-front presence on Hornqvist goal and for the first time in his career, Kuhnhackl got a power play point.

Removing Kris Letang from the first unit also help where Justin Schultz is just a more natural fit and the Penguins may have something with their second unit in having Conor Sheary come off the left wall as a puck distributor.

Even at even strength, the Penguins were more active with their d-men taking chances below the dots in creating outnumber situations.

Overall the Penguins just competed and made one more play as they often do against the Capitals.

“We competed again,” [hide] Sullivan said. “It was an emotional game….. We just played two really good teams. They were both emotional games. They both had a physical dimension to them. It’s encouraging that we’re playing the game hard.”