In a matchup of teams battling significant injuries, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ special teams led them to a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Sidney Crosby scored twice to lead the Penguins (23-10-1, 47 points) to their eighth win in nine games. Pittsburgh scored two power play goals and their penalty kill was stellar all night long, including a five-minute kill while holding a one-goal lead.
The Red Wings (15-10-9, 39 points) were missing their No. 1 goalie in Jimmy Howard and captain Henrik Zetterberg, while the Penguins are missing their top four defensemen – Brooks Orpik , Rob Scuderi, Paul Martin and Kris Letang, who was a late scratch before the game. With so many injuries to the back line it gave a chance for Brain Dumoulin to make his National Hockey League debut.
The Red Wings would strike first, gaining a 1-0 lead off a point shot from Niklas Kronwall, his fourth of the season. The puck took a bounce off the ice before beating goaltender Jeff Zatkoff up high. It didn’t take long for the Penguins to respond and tie the game, as Crosby would score the perhaps the easiest goal he will get all year.
After Chris Kunitz tried to punch it in in front of the net, with the puck laying in the crease Crosby sneaked in and tapped the puck into the empty cage for his 17th of the season.
Not to be outdone, Evgeni Malkin would score his ninth, also on the power play, just three minutes later to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead. The goal marked the 600th point in Malkin’s NHL career.
With only 30 seconds left in the first, Deryk Engelland got a match penalty and was kicked out of the game for a hit to the head on Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader. That meant the Penguins were missing five of their top six defensemen for the rest of the game.
With less than a minute left in the second period it was rookie Olli Maatta scoring his second goal of the season, giving the Penguins a 3-1 lead. The shot from the point bounced in off Detroit’s Drew Miller with Kunitz and Crosby in front of the net.
It wasn’t all good news for the Penguins as Malkin was injured early in the third period when he crashed violently into the boards legs first. Malkin tried to skate off on his own power but was unable to do so and collapsed to the ice again and needed help off the ice.
Crosby would score his second of the game and 18th of the season off assists from Chris Conner and Joe Vitale to increase the Penguins lead to 4-1 with under six minutes to play. Zatkoff made 28 saves in the victory.
The Penguins face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday as they play five games in seven days.