It was a great all-around effort that led the Pens to victory tonight. They were helped, no doubt, by the absence of Patrick Elias, but I'm not sure he would have changed things measurably.
The game showed signs of being a blowout early. The Pens failed on their first power play, but nearly right after it was over, the makeshift line of 24, 25 and 26 got the puck behind Brodeur. I wonder how often three consecutive numbers are on the ice together...
The Pens struck quickly for a second goal with Bill Guerin scoring his 20th of the season. I think his shot was opened up by Crosby streaking to the far post ahead of the D. Brodeur had to respect the pass, but in doing so he gave up the shot to Guerin.
The Devils made it a one goal game and nearly tied it when Gionta (I think) hit the post behind Fleury. If that had gone in, it may have been a very different hockey game. That's the difference between the Pens and Devils right now. The Pens are getting the bounces and the Devils aren't.
The Pens did something unusual and added to their lead over the remainder of the game. They managed two just 13 seconds apart in the second, and Kunitz scored the final goal in the third.
The most encouraging part was that they had a consistency to their effort. There were double-digit shots in all three periods, and the Devils only managed 25 shots for the game. That's a formula for success.
The scoring was also balanced. No one had more than two points on the night, and there were six different goal scorers.
Fleury was good early when he needed to make a few big saves, and he thanked his goal post on more than one occasion.
Next up: A Southern trip with three games in four days gets underway on Saturday in Carolina. Must win.