Pens – Stars Post-Game Buzz
The Dallas Stars on the back check were playing for overtime. The Evgeni Malkin line had different thoughts in the waning minutes. The Malkin winner with 34 seconds left was off a tremendous offensive zone entry. Dallas had what they wanted, four back to three Penguin skaters. But, puck watching saw Dallas get burned from the Zucker zone entry to Bryan Rust going hard to the net with the puck to no one picking up Evgeni Malkin.
2. The ‘Menace” Jason Zucker as Mike Sullivan likes to call him: The power of a contract year? Night in and night out he’s performing as one of the Penguins best forward. Evgeni Malkin has always needed a winger who will go the dirty areas and chase pucks. Pittsburgh has a steady 2nd line combination going with Zucker – Malkin – Rust that is performing like a top line on some nights. Now time will tell if its sustainable with Malkin’s age and Zucker’s injury history but minus the goal production, the Penguins are getting a prime Chris Kunitz type level of play from Zucker at the left wing position in how Zucker is dominating play below the dots with his skating and smart awareness/aggressiveness to hunt puck. Zucker had 18 assists in his previous two seasons with Pittsburgh. Zucker’s two assist night gives him 14 apples on the season through 27 games.
3. During Pittsburgh’s struggles earlier in the season, talk among scouts was how much Pittsburgh missed Mike Matheson in the new age of the rush puck moving defenseman that is fueling the rise of goal scoring this season. That may pop up again as it’s still so early into the season but PO Joseph has been a pleasant surprise for many in the organization. Expectations were very low for Joseph who scored a power play goal vs the Stats. Pittsburgh tried actively trading him in camp and would have taken a 4th round pick per multiple sources as the coaching staff preferred Ty Smith. He made the blueline by default and is giving the team an element, they really need from the left side with Matheson’s departure, even if the coaching staff doesn’t trust him at all defensively.
— Business as usual for Kris Letang. In his second game back from a stroke, Letang logged 27:35 vs Dallas.
— Tristan Jarry improved to 5-0-0 in December with a 26 save performance. Jarry’s giving the Penguins .920 save percentage on the season, tied for 6th in the league. $$$$$
— Jason Robertson 0 points, 0 shots on goal vs the Penguins in 18:17 of ice time. It was just the second time this season, Robertson who has 23 goals on the year was held without a shot.
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