To steal a quote from Mike Lange, “”If you missed this one, shame on you for six weeks”. Well, after all, it was a throwback to the 80s night last night at the arena.
The Big Three got together again last night and waged a “Shock and Awe” campaign against the Minnesota Wild. Our boys in Black and Gold poured it on for just a little over 2 periods. The Penguins doubled up the Wild shot totals after 2 periods 26 to 13. Even more impressive, they scored 4 goals on their first 21 shots against Devan Dubnyk, the Wild’s goalie, who is not exactly Swiss cheese. Going into last night’s game he had a 0.919 Sv% and 3 SOs. However, he was forced to exit the game after 30:55 and given an early shower, suffering from shell shock.
Dubnyk’s back up didn’t fare much better, Alex Stalock was touched-up for 2 goals on 18 shots.
Rookie Dominik Simon opened up scoring, notching his 3rd goal of the season. The play started with Conor Sheary losing a puck battle in the corner. Daniel Winnik tapped the loose puck over Eric Staal to try and break out but Ian Cole came over to seal him off and cause a turn-over. Sidney Crosby picked up the puck just inside the blue line, wheeled around and found Simon wide open in the right wing circle and Simon blasted a one-time shot past Dubnyk.
Evgeni Malkin got into the act next, just a little over 30 seconds into a power play. He pretty much started the play himself at the Penguins blue-line. Circling around to get up speed for another zone entry. When he got back to the red-line, the big Russian found Crosby on the left wing. Crosby gave it right back to Malkin, who was now charging into the Wild’s zone with speed. Malkin circled behind the net and tried to center the puck into the slot. Wild defenseman Ryan Suter tried to block the pass but only succeeded in deflecting the puck into his own net. (a bit of puck-luck, but hard earned puck luck as Malkin has been playing a 200 foot game for the entire season and deserves some reward.)
Carl Hagelin picked up the Penguins 3rd goal, 9: into the 2nd period off of a great feed by Malkin. The play really started with Ian Cole, re-inserted into the line-up after another way too long stretch in the press-box. Cole prevented a Wild break out. Phil Kessel grabbed the loose puck and with a nifty little drop pass got the puck to Malkin as the crisscrossed at the top of the left wing circle. Kessel drove to the far post while Malkin swung in down the left wing opening up a seem for Hagelin to find a soft spot and the red hot Hagelin wasted no time whipping the puck into the net through the 5-hole.
Brian Dumoulin got the eventual game winner about a minute and a half later, finally chasing Dubnyk from the Wild net. Crosby started the play, collecting the loose puck in his own end and skated it up ice. The Wild defenders gave ground (okay ice) as Crosby rushed the puck all the way into the attacking zone before finding a streaking Hagelin. Hagelin quickly sent it back to Crosby, passed a Wild defender that took him (Hagelin) out of the play by sliding into him. So Crosby finished the tic-tac-toe passing by passing back across to Dumoulin who slipped up into the play behind Hagelin. Dubanyk was was way out of position, going back and forth in his creased, bedazzled by the passing of Crosby and Hagelin, leaving Dumoulin a wide open net to shoot the puck into.
Malkin continued the goal parade with his second of the night, less than 20 seconds into a Matt Dumba penalty for slashing Hagelin. Patric Hornqvist wound the puck around the perimeter from the right wing wall to the left wing corner. Kessel got to the Puck first and continued the puck around the perimeter up to Justin Schultz at the left point. Schultz found Malkin back in the right wing circle. Malkin then tried to get a pass to Crosby, but Puck Luck reared its head again and helped Suter deflect another Malkin pass, past his own goalie.
Simon, who opened up the scoring, finished of the Penguins’ half of the scoring with the other half of the book ends with an unassisted goal. He got the puck off of a Staal give away along the right wing boards before skating the puck into the slot and whipping a wrist shot into the net back across his body. Although there was no assist given on the play, Crosby really deserved some. The captain really started the play with a tremendous back check, picking the pocket of a Wild’s player and reversing the play back into the attacking zone.
Wild coach, Bruce Boudreau finally had enough and called a time out. Changing goalies didn’t help but finally, taking a time out slowed the onslaught and allowed Minnesota to get their bearings. Minnesota, although not in the play-off picture at the moment had been climbing back into it and even after last night’s loss are 6-2-2 over their last 10 games. Mustering up their pride, the Wild did manage to try and not get too embarrassed, notching 3 goals in the final frame against Casey DeSmith, who saw 13 shots in the final period after being lulled to sleep, only seeing 13 shots in the combined first 2 periods.
Odds and Sods
Casey DeSmith got his 4th straight start and 3rd win of the season. He has a 2.08 GAA and a 0.927 Sv%.
Malkin notched 2 goals and 1 assist last night, giving him 23 goals and 29 assists and 51 points for the season, tying him for 9th in the league in goals and placing 14th in the league in points.
Kessel picked up 3 assists during the game giving him 37 assists and 58 points for the season, tying him for 3rd in the league in points.
Crosby also notched 3 assists also giving him 38 assists and 55 points for the season, good for 9th in the league in points.
Going into the All Star break, our Penguins have climbed back into a tie with Columbus for second place in the Metropolitan Division. However, there really is no time for back patting, The Penguins have played 2 more games than the Blue Jackets. Furthermore, New Jersey and Philadelphia are only 1 point behind and New Jersey has 3 games in hand while the Flyers have 2. And let’s not count out the New York clubs; they are only 2 points behind the Penguins with a game in hand.