Wow. That was a great game. The Pens did what they needed to do to get the win.
They didn't have the most beautiful plays.
They didn't play like the team that is fantastically talented.
They DID work their butts off.
They DID finish their checks.
They DID stay after rebounds on both ends.
This is what the Pens seemed to be building towards before their hiccup against the Wild. They played a tight game, Fleury played well, and they came away with the win.
There are a few players I'd like to mention in particular:
Recchi - He was the first star tonight. I thought it should have been Talbot, but then I looked at Recchi's numbers - he had two points. More than that, though, he played just about TWENTY-FOUR minutes (including almost seven in short-handed situations), which is extremely high for a forward. He took 35 shifts (the next highest forward were Murley and Endicott with 26). He won 7 of 9 faceoffs. He was a +1 for the game. He was easily the MVP of the game for the Pens, and more than that, really led by example.
Talbot - I was surprised when I saw that he only played about 12 minutes. I think that's because you really noticed him when he was out there. He's really starting to use his speed, and he busts his butt going after every puck. He deserves a bigger role, based on his play tonight.
Christensen - He was the recipient of more playing time, and it paid off. He scored the third goal on a deflection early in the second period. He also had some time on the power play. You could see that his chemistry with Crosby was still there.
Bogunecki - He looked like he was shot out of a cannon several times tonight. He stepped right onto the power play, but I have to say I didn't really notice him there. Where I DID notice him was on the forecheck, and on his breakaway, where a superb effort by the Avs goalie (Kolesnik) on the first shot and the rebound kept the puck out of the net.
Fleury - This one is easy... the Pens don't win the game tonight without Fleury in net. The way Caron or Thibault have played this year, either one would have lost this game. Fleury rose to the challenge and continued his great play.
Congratulations to the Pens on turning the corner. It doesn't get any easier, with a game Monday night in Detroit.