The Pittsburgh Pengins (10-5-0, 20 pts) got a rare two goal game from veteran checking line winger Craig Adams and Marc Andre Fleury was excellent in goal making 25 saves, leading the Penguins to a 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets (5-7-1, 11 pts) on Friday night, improving to 10-5-0, 20 pts, on the season.
Adams scored at 3:19 of the first period to put the Penguins up 1-0 and added an empty net goal with 28 seconds left in the third as the Penguins earned their seventh road victory of the season.
James Neal (11) also scored in the win.
When you can get a two goal game from Craig Adams you will take it. Adams collected his first two goal since October 13, 2006 in the win
“If I had more nights like this I would make a better living,” Adams said told reporters afterwards.
Earning the games No. 3 star, Adams had a state line of 2 goals, 4 shots on goal and had a fight. “I think you know, he played a highlight game tonight,” Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said.
For the Penguins they have needed a game where the fourth line gets on the board and the line of Tanner Glass, Joe Vitale and Adams are starting to develop an identity for this hockey club like GM Ray Shero mentioned Wednesday night.
Vitale showed again why he shouldn’t be coming out of the lineup, setting up Adams goal by using his speed wide and getting the puck to the net as Adams drove to the net and put home the rebound after a couple whacks at it.
After a 4 of 6 night in the faceoff circle, Vitale is now 64.6% on the season.
*In what started out as an ugly 5 on 3, the Penguins put the game away on James Neal’s power play goal with 4:49 left in the game. Neal one timered a blast past Pavelec for his 11th goal of the season and league best seventh power play goal. Neal is on pace for 35 goals this season and the Penguins have now scored a power play goal in seven straight games and are second in the NHL at 27.6%.
*Beau Bennett was pointless with 1 shot on goal, 2 blocked shots and 1 hit in 11:37 of ice time. Early on he seemed to have some jitters and was struggling to control passes but I thought he got more comfortable as the game wore on. He didn’t show many flashes offensively but was involved in a few scoring chances and he did the little things well with his wall play in the defensive zone and blocking shots. Matt Cooke was not very effective with Malkin and Neal and Bennett saw more time with them as the game progressed.
*The fire Eric Tangradi played with in the first period was something the Penguins rarely saw from the 6-foot-4, 220-pound winger. Tangradi came out playing with an edge, recording 4 hits in the first period but had no hits in the second and third periods and struggled to finish plays in front of the net. The way he played in the second and third was a typical Eric Tangradi game.
*For the Penguins this wasn’t a perfectly played game defensively. If Marc Andre Fleury wasn’t on top of his game, Pittsburgh could have easily left Winnipeg with a loss. The Jets, though, continue to be a team that just doesn’t know how to win. “We showed that when we play hard, we can play and keep up with teams like Pittsburgh,” forward Bryan Little said. “We’ve just got to find a way to do that every day.” One game plan for the Jets seemed to be very physical with the Penguins star players. Early on they were taking runs at Kris Letang at nearly every opportunity.
*A head scratcher was Bylsma having the line of Bennett – Malkin and Neal out on the ice when the Penguins were tying to hold a one goal lead. Those three might be the worst three defensive players on the team. Another head scratcher was leaving Matt Niskanen in the game. It’s been clear to me all week that Niskanen hasn’t looked 100% in his skating, especially when he has to cut and cross over due to the ankle injury. He clearly re-aggravated his ankle in the second period and I thought his skating was a liability out there.
*Sidney Crosby picked up an assist and is tied for second in the NHL with 21 points.