As things stood Thursday afternoon, after the news that Malkin was gonna be out, the thought of a 5-1 Pens victory seemed more improbable than Adam Levine going away. If anything, it was gonna be a 5-1 Sharks runaway. That, as they say, is why they play the game.
The Pens used a blazing five-minute stretch to score three goals and basically stun the Sharks. The scary thing is how easy they made it look. It looked almost too good to be true.
This was probably the first game of the year where the Pens were noticeably smaller than their opponent. The Sharks looked monstrous.
And, God, did they get the puck to the net. They had 23 shots in the second period, two shy of a record for a Pens opponent in a period. The problem for the Sharks was that Marc-Andre was brilliant.
He made at least seven to eight up-close-and-personal saves on the Sharks’ biggest guns. Fleury was also helped by the Sharks missing on some golden chances.
Logan Couture said this after the game: "I don't think Fleury was that good tonight. He gave up a lot of rebounds and a lot of shots. He looked shaky."
Couple of things here:
1. Wow. Finally an intriguing quote from an NHL player.
2. His name is "Logan." If MAF was so shaky, maybe Logan should’ve scored a goal.
3. He is probably off-base in saying Fleury "wasn't that good," but it did seem he was on the edge of collapse in the second period and was tiring out. His rebound control wasn't the best, but the Sharks only scored one goal, so really — advantage: Fleury.
The Penguins have dominated all the big boys in the West at home, minus Colorado. We’re already looking forward to watching how they play when they visit the likes of Anaheim, St. Louis, Nashville, and San Jose later this season.
Goes without saying that the Sharks came to play. They looked simply massive on the ice with the Penguins. They were playing the body early and often. Tyler Kennedy almost sent Orpik home for Christmas, and Orpik was jammed.
The Sharks showed early on that they wanted their line matchups, and Bylsma pretty much went with their flow.
– The Penguins honored Tyler Kennedy. If there is a line to draw whether or not to honor a departed player, it might be at Tyler Kennedy. On the flip side, showing the opinions of the two people typing this, and for the two people reading this, Tyler Kennedy scored some unforgettable playoff goals. Playoff performer, relatively speaking.
– Pens got the first PP when Letang got hooked. Rare time this season something good happened when Kris Letang was carrying the puck. It was nice to see. Niskanen rung one off the pipe, and that was pretty much it. Killed.
– Orpik wasn’t showing any effects from that Kennedy hit because he sent Desjardins into Europe on a hit in the neutral zone.
It was a nice hit, if you like monster hits that take the defender out of position. Just saying.
– Chris Conner was the best Penguin forward on the ice in the first; we're still coping with that.
Hope you were strapped in for the second period because shit got weird.
– The first goal of the game was gonna be huge, and the Pens got it. Pascal Dupuis deflected in Orpik’s shot from the point. Hopefully it wakes him up a little bit.
ROOT showed Tyler Kennedy after the goal for some reason.
– Maybe they showed him because he was about to make a huge mistake. At the end of a shift, he threw it to no-man’s-land. Despres with a casual chip sent Megna leading a 3-on-1 rush, basically a 2-on-1 because Vitale was there and proceeded to fall again. Megna cruised in cool, calmed, and collected, and sniped Niemi. 2-0.
Megna shines again in a spot start. Almost forgot he was still in the organization. Probably gonna be sent down by the time you read this.
– The Sharks had a chance to answer when they got a PP right after that Megna goal, but the Pens brushed the Sharks aside. As soon as that was killed, the Pens went back on the attack. Then after a faceoff win, the Pens worked it around. Neal to Crosby. Team Canada's Chris Kunitz put home the rebound. 3-0.
– Surprised Niemi stayed between the pipes. The Sharks went all-in to get back into the game. MAF made some saves, and the Sharks were headed back to the box. Annnnnd then it was 4-0 with Kunitz’s PP goal. Niemi stayed in net. Again.
– The Sharks kept coming after that and got on the board with some trash in front of MAF. 4-1.
– Despres was going to the box right after that Sharks goal, but the Pens had a big kill. It’s easy to shrug at it now, but that kill was huge.
– The Sharks had 23 shots in the second. They had so many chances to score.
Basically Fleury made this save over and over again:
It was basically cruise control the entire third. Have to sing the praises of Simon Despres and Olli Maatta in this one. Both had some great chances in the game, and their D was stellar. Scary to think the Pens have Pouliot waiting in the wings for next season.
And, yeah, Letang scored in the third to make it 5-1. That was cool, too. The Sharks’ backup goalie didn't want to be there, so whatever.