The Pittsburgh Penguins cut down a two-game losing streak with a 5-1 home triumph over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.
But, as is often the case in hockey, the final score deceives. While the Pens roared to a 6-0 advantage in scoring chances in the opening minutes, the Stars proved feisty – as one would expect from a team on the fringes of playoff contention. A high-quality effort from rookie goalie Jeff Zatkoff helped Pittsburgh keep Dallas at arm’s length.
Here’s the period-by-period breakdown of prime scoring opportunities generated by each side. (For an explanation of how a chance is defined, refer to this previous post.)
|Stars||3 (2 PP)||7 (0 PP)||8 (2 PP)||18 (4 PP)|
|Penguins||7 (3 PP)||5 (0 PP)||8 (2 PP)||20 (5 PP)|
It’s easy to forget now, but the Stars were quite good in the second period, outchancing the Penguins as they rallied from being mere spectators in the first. The third period got wild, producing 16 combined opportunities while Dallas pushed the pace.
Young Stars star (forgive me) Tyler Seguin missed on a couple great looks, but he nonetheless led the visitors with five total chances generated. Let’s see who paced the Pens:
|Chris Kunitz||1||5||6 (1 PP)|
|Jussi Jokinen||3||2||5 (3 PP)|
|Evgeni Malkin||2||3||5 (3 PP)|
|Marcel Goc||2||0||2 (1 PP)|
|James Neal||1||0||1 (1 PP)|
|Olli Maatta||0||1||1 (1 PP)|
Not surprisingly, a member of the first line heads the chart this time. Chris Kunitz again reminded us why he’s such a terrific fit with Sidney Crosby, returning from a bruised ankle to take part in six legitimate chances.
Lee Stempniak is making a case for permanent placement on Crosby’s right wing, as he matched Sid with a team-high four chances taken. The top line was dominant beyond its eight combined points; that trio accumulated 16 opportunities, with 15 coming at even strength.
Bottom-six centers Brandon Sutter and Marcel Goc recorded three and two chances, respectively, helping bolster the forward depth that’s limited the Penguins lately. On the blueline, only Olli Maatta chimed in with a chance.
Pittsburgh travels to Detroit to face the Red Wings on Thursday.