Seems like forever since the Pens put some pucks in the net, much less won a game.
This wasn't an easy game for the Pens by any measure, not so much because of any pressure by the Thrashers (though they applied some late), but because it started much like other recent games.
The first period was all Penguins. They out shot the Thrashers 15-4 and had numerous golden scoring chances. They just couldn't convert on anything (sound familiar?) until... Petr Sykora deflected a great pass from the point by Ryan Whitney behind Lehtonen. There was a palpable sense of relief. It was kind of like the diving Crosby goal a few seasons back on a pass from Recchi (I think it was a game against Tampa) - everyone was estatic.
The second saw a bunch of skating with not much shooting until the second half of the period, when Sykora put a backhander behind the Atlanta netminder. Just a few minutes later, faster than you could say December 18th, the Pens had notched another power play goal when Sid deflected a Geno bomb from the point. If you're clueless as to what I mean by December 18th, it's the last time the Pens had more than one power play goal in a game.
The Thrashers turned the third period into a bit of a shooting gallery, and cut the lead to two. They then reminded us all why they're the worst team in hockey by not generating much pressure on a power play chance with less than 4:00 in the game, and by taking a penalty in the offensive zone with less than 1:00 left and Lehtonen on the bench. Not good for the folks from Atlanta.
Fleury was fantastic tonight. Though the Thrashers didn't generate any sustained pressure until the third, he was able to make several key stops, including both Kovalchuk and Williams at point blank range.
Speaking of Kovalchuk, he took an early cheap elbow shot at Malkin from behind in open ice. In the third, when Valabik flattened Crosby and then wouldn't fight Godard, the first thing on my To Do list if I were, say, Matt Cooke, would be to pancake Kovalchuk. It would have discouraged the nonsense with Crosby and made everyone in Pittsburgh smile.
Colby was everywhere in this game. He seemed to take some extra interest in hitting as many Penguins as he could. He and Sid got into it early in the game, with Army taking the penalty. It was announced on TV as "Holding the Stick", but the score sheet shows just "Holding".
Both Fedotenko and Dupuis left the game and did not return. Hopefully both are okay, because the Pens haven't been getting much out of their callups from Wilkes-Barre (though Dustin Jeffrey seems like he might change that).
Wow - lots to write about for this one. Suffice it to say that it was a great win, with great effort for the second game of a back-to-back. Let's hope it leads to more success.
Next up: On the road to Music City to play the Preds.