Two things about this game:
1. Dallas needed points, and they simply forgot to show up in the game.
2. You could make a post about how Chris Kunitz is maybe the most important Penguin player right now, and people would have to listen.
By no means should this game be considered a banner game for the Penguins. They really didn’t play that well.
It is a start. And over the final stretch of games, they need games like this. Games were bits and pieces of the lineup plays well. Against the stars, the first line found something.
They contributed eight points, and carried the Penguins to the win.
Still some issues
When the lineups were announced, we were at a loss for words as to why Jayson Megna was a healthy scratch. It just doesn’t make any sense at all. The Pens won this game 5-1, though, so you really can’t complain. But Joe Vitale didn’t win one battle all night, and he took another bad penalty.
Overall, the Pens bounced back from their ass weekend, and it certainly didn’t hurt that both Neal and Kunitz returned. Letang’s skating, Bennett’s skating. Things are looking up health-wise for the Pens, and it may just form the perfect storm heading into the playoffs.
This was Crosby’s best game since Sochi, using both an eye test and his stat line. Zatkoff getting the start was kind of interesting, and hopefully the Pens are committed to resting up Fleury these next couple weeks.
Crosby was flying this game from the very first shift. Combined with Kunitz returning, the Stars were in deep shit.
The Stars had to kill a penalty after Cody Eakin got the stick up into Scuderi. Eakin had a pretty decent game. Pens wanted 4 minutes on that PP but didn’t get it. And they didn’t get a goal.
Later, we saw Crosby beginning to double-shift with Gibbons and Adams. Adams worked deep, and the puck found Crosby in the slot. He waited out every Dallas player then beat Lehtnonen with a backhand. Almost looked too easy. 1-0.
Meanwhile, Gibbons was peacing out:
Of all the ways for the Stars to score their only goal of the game, it came on an innocent deflection. It was probably their worst scoring opportunity of the game. 1-1.
Three minutes later, the Pens took the lead and never looked back. Just great work by the top line again. What a difference Stempniak has made. Kunitz feed Stempniak for a one-timer and drove to the net while the Stars were out to lunch. Rebound fell right into Kunitz’s lap. 2-1.
Period started off kind of iffy. The Stars were getting good chances, but Zatkoff was seeing everything. Crosby sent Jordie Benn back to high school with some move.
The pace picked up in the second half of the period. Kunitz-Crosby-Stemp teamed up on a beautiful play. Great passes by Crosby and Kunitz led to Stempniak in Lehtnonen’s mouth and beating him up. 3-1.
A disturbing trend was developing all game: the Stars getting odd-man breaks. They had maybe 4 or 5 in the second, but they were either missing the net or Zatkoff was getting pieces of them. No rebounds, either. This was pretty much the difference in the game.
The Pens killed that Vitale period from the end of the second then went back to work. Off a faceoff and a deflection, Crosby was left all alone for a slam-dunk. 4-1.
The Stars started falling off the rails. Kunitz got taken down. The Pens pinched on the PP, and it gave Cody Eakin a chance to lead a 2-on-1. Zatkoff made the save and got housed by Eakin driving the net. It looked like Zatkoff got hit by a missile.
Then Kunitz put a stick into some guy’s sac.
Everything evened out, and the Pens didn’t do anything on the rest of the PP.
Gibbons got hurt blocking a shot but returned à la Willis Reed, and his return sent a jolt of determination up and down the Penguins’ bench.
Malkin went off, and it was the Stars’ last gasp. They couldn’t do it, and with the penalty ending, Sutter had a shorthanded breakaway. The goal judge blew his load when Sutter hit the post, which led to mass confusion. Ref took his time, stared at the puck, and pointed. 5-1.
It was all over but the crying. A Dallas player got a game misconduct, and it was time to go.
–There used to be a time where Ray Whitney killed the Penguins. Now, he can barely skate. It was a pleasure watching him suffer shift after shift.
— Following the Rich Peverley incident last week, the Dallas Stars almost look like zombies.
— It is funny that Kunitz didn’t get a star in this game. Shows how underrated he is.
— Despres and Bortuzzo were serviceable. Both were trying to play aggressive, while not making any mistakes, if that makes any sense. They need to be able to play through mistakes, especially Despres. Sitting him down would be a huge mistake.
*Sorry for the Ad on every pic thing. Working to resolve that.