Before the Penguins took the ice against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, they received good news as both James Neal and Beau Bennett were inserted back into the lineup. There probably was no Penguin happier to hear this news than Evgeni Malkin. Malkin’s goalless drought has been well documented and you would think now that Malkin has his right-hand man back that drought will be ending soon.
This game had everything you would want in a hockey game and a playoff feel. These are two of the top teams in the league and with the talent and grit they showed tonight it is easy to see why people believe this could be a preview of the Stanley Cup Final. However, the Blues would come out on the winning end this time with a 2-1 victory.
It was the Blues striking first off of a redirect by Ryan Reaves in the second period. The goal was his second goal of the season. It didn’t take long for the Penguins to tie the game up with a power play goal by Jussi Jokinen, his eighth of the season. Neal and Malkin picked up assists on the play. But that was as good as the Penguins looked on offense. There was no flow to their game as they constantly turned the puck over and were regularly going offside.
The Blues dominated the third period action, holding the Penguins to just four shots for the entire period and 19 total shots for the game. All the hard work would pay off as Kevin Shattenkirk broke a 1-1 tie with his first goal of the season, as Marc Andre Fleury did not see the puck until the last second and only got a piece of the it but not enough to keep it from trickling across the line.
Some may put the blame of Fleury for giving up what could be considered a bad goal, but it was Fleury making the big save early and often keeping the Penguins in the fight and with a chance to tie it late. Fleury finished with 32 saves on the night.
The Penguins (11-6-0, 22 points) will look to end their two game losing streak on Wednesday night when they take on cross town rivals in the Philadelphia Flyers.