Pittsburgh Penguins: Five Games In Eight Days Review


It was about five games in eight days for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The week did not begin well, but the Pens made a comeback over the weekend to put together a two-game win streak.

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This past week was Week No. 19 in the National Hockey League. There was a lot of anticipation for Mike Johnston’s squad with games from Sunday, Feb. 15 to Sunday, Feb. 23 against members of both NHL’s Eastern and Western Conferences including rivals in the Metropolitan Division.

The Black and Gold went 2-2-1 and reside in third place in the Metro with a record of 34-17-9, 77 points. They are one point behind the second place New York Rangers at 36-16-6, 78 points and three points in back of the first place New York Islanders, who are 39-20-2, 80 points.

Pittsburgh has gone 6-3-1 in their last 10 contests and are in fifth place overall in the Eastern Conference. Early in the week they struggled, before putting on the breaks on Saturday evening.

However, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Company finished the weekend strong, giving renewed hope and confidence to Penguins Nation.

Time to grab another steaming cup of hot chocolate and let’s take another look at how well the Pens fared in this gauntlet of games:

Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury played well in regulation turning away 31 of 32, but the shootout Sunday, Feb. 15 at the United Center in Chicago was another matter as the Blackhawks scored all three times to claim a 2-1 victory. It marked the second time this season that Joel Quenneville’s crew had downed the Black and Gold in a shootout. The first win was Wednesday, Jan. 21 going 3-2 in Chicago’s favor.

Right wing Beau Bennett led the Pens with nine shots, and the 6-foot-2, 195-pound forward assisted on center Nick Spaling’s goal in the third period. Both teams blocked 15 shots. The Blackhawks held the edge in face-offs 39-34, while the Penguins led in hits 42-27. Neither squad scored on two power plays each.

The Clash with the Capitals was rejoined Tuesday, Feb. 17 as Washington defeated Pittsburgh 3-1 at CONSOL Energy Center. It was the Caps third win in a row over the Pens this season.

The one player of note was Nick Spaling as he contributed a takeaway, two pass interceptions and a broken-up play in the defensive zone. Right wing Steve Downie had the Pens lone score at 3:35 of the second frame. The Capitals had the power play working as they went two for five with the man advantage. They also blocked one more shot than the Penguins 13-12. The faceoff wins were even at 26 apiece, while Pittsburgh out hit Washington 50-36.

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  • The trifecta of losing was made complete Thursday, Feb. 19 as Mike Johnston’s squad lost at home 2-1 to budding Metro rival, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

    Malkin got the Pens on the scoreboard at 8:58 of the second period. The fans also observed that Kris Letang tied for the lead in shots with five, led with four blocks, and he contributed three takeaways. The 6-foot, 201-pound defenseman recorded a pass interception, a forced turnover, and a broken-up play.

    Neither team was able to get their power play going as they combined for a 0/6 with the man advantage. Columbus won the face-off battle 29-27 and blocked more shots 14-10. For the third game in a row, Pittsburgh had more hits 38-31.

    It was a night of line changes Saturday, Feb. 21 as the Penguins beat the Blues 4-2 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.

    The top line was David Perron, Crosby, and Patric Hornqvist while the second line was Chris Kunitz, Malkin, and Blake Comeau. With the wingers crashing the net and providing the right combination of puck support, Crosby and Malkin seem to have more time and space to allow their talents to flourish.

    Pittsburgh went 1-for-3 on the power play as Hornqvist found the back of the net at 6:26 of the second period on the man advantage. The Penguins led in hits 29-23 while the face0ff wins were in favor of the Blues 33-30. Both teams had 13 blocked shots on the score sheet.

    Victory was obtained in back to back matchups as the Black and Gold came home Sunday, Feb. 22 to tame the Florida Panthers 5-1 at CONSOL Energy Center.

    Fleury took care of business as he stopped 34 of 35 shots. The Panthers brought their attack early and often as they led in shots 16-8 after the first and 27-16 through two periods.

    Both Malkin and Hornqvist recorded two goals and one assist on the evening. One of Hornqvist’s scores came on the power play. Pittsburgh took the lead in hits 25-22 and faceoff wins 29-25. Florida owned the edge in blocked shots 17-12.

    What were the high and low points for you over this quintet of contests? Let me know in the comments section below.

    Up Next: The Black and Gold visit the Horizon Center Wednesday, Feb.25 when they skate against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals (33-18-10, 76 points). They will drop the puck at 8 p.m., and the contest will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.

    After that, the Pens are back at CONSOL Energy Center Sunday, March 1 to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets (26-28-4, 56 points). They will meet at center ice at 5 p.m. and it will be broadcast on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.

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