This is our House; Pens beat Jets and Rangers to Extend Home Win Streak to 12
Despite two wins over the weekend, the biggest headlines in Pittsburgh were the returns of Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and the 12 game home winning streak.
Malkin, who missed nine games due to a leg injury sustained in Detroit, returned Sunday against the Jets in glorious fashion. Letang also returned on Sunday against the Jets, but will need further time on the ice in order to find his grove.
On Friday, Pittsburgh welcomed divisional for New York Rangers onto Consol ice. It was expected to be a rather close game considering the beat down the Rangers gave the Penguins at MSG just a few weeks back.
Someone forgot to tell Pittsburgh though.
At the 13:09 mark, Chris Kunitz tallied yet another power play goal, pushing his total to 11 on the season. Crosby and Niskanen were credited with the assists.
Jussi Jokinen added another first period goal with just a minute and twenty seconds remaining.
Jokinen tallied the Penguins third goal of the night just a minute into the second period when he backhanded a puck in the crease past Henrik Lundqvist.
Not to be outshined on the night, Sidney Crosby delivered a glorious backhand shot that beat King Henrik high glove side. The 23rd goal for Crosby on the season.
The Rangers decided to push back hard in the third period when Penguin killer Mats Zuccarello scored. Four minutes later Ryan McDonagh scored off a strong wrist shot while coming down the blocker side wall.
Pittsburgh managed to kill the rally a minute later with another Kunitz goal, pushing his total to 23 on the season to tie Crosby for the team lead.
There were plenty of ill feelings during the game as well. Crosby and McDonagh got into a wrestling match late in the game over hit along the boards. Both players received two minute unsportsmanlike penalties.
Deryk Engelland made his presence felt with a huge hit on the Rangers defenceman Moore, sending him flying into the boards.
Unfortunately for the Rangers they will be without Derek Dorsett for the next month or so. The Ranger broke his fibula when he blocked a point shot during the power play. In true hockey fashion though, he finished his shift.
On Sunday, Pittsburgh decided to play a different game.
The Winnipeg Jets came to town to challenge Pittsburgh 11 game home winning streak. It was a challenge they were eager to take to task.
Winnipeg took an early 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Jacob Trouba and Mark Schiefele. Trouba’s high wrist shot from in front of the net caught Fleury off guard, where as Schiefele’s goal caught everyone off guard. The young center sent a fluttering puck from 20 feet out past Fleury with just four seconds remaining in the period.
Then came the second period.
In order to understand how the second period played out, I have place a segment of the box score for your browsing.
01:06 PIT Evgeni Malkin (10) Snap shot - ASST: Jussi Jokinen (18)
04:25 PIT PPG - James Neal (15) Wrist shot - ASST: Kris Letang (6), Sidney Crosby (40)
04:59 PIT James Neal (16) Wrist shot - ASST: NONE
06:02 WPG Blake Wheeler (16) Snap shot - ASST: Bryan Little (20)
11:38 PIT Jussi Jokinen (12) Wrist shot - ASST: Evgeni Malkin (33), Brooks Orpik (9)
17:31 WPG Evander Kane (13) Backhand shot - ASST: NONE
19:42 WPG Evander Kane (14) Backhand shot - ASST: Mark Scheifele (15), Michael Frolik (15)
It was a period in which both teams played give away, a new game where defencemen hand the puck over to the other team, and where the goaltenders were hung out to dry like freshly washed sheets.
Neither team was proud of their efforts in this period where both teams clearly wanted to slow the pace and play a style that is more reminiscent of that seen in the professional ranks.
The Penguins would finally tie the game up at the 8:29 mark of the third period. Evgeni Malkin, who already has a goal and an assist at this point, would score while on the outskirts of the blue paint. His one handed swipe of the rolling puck beat Montoya, thanks mostly to a wicked wrist shot barely fought off from the stick of James Neal.
Pittsburgh would cap off the rally with just seven and a half minutes to go in the game thanks to a Matt Niskanen blast from the point.
All in all, it was a terrible game, nothing like the complete effort given on Friday. Pittsburgh was obviously trying to find its way in this game though.
The return of a few players in just the past week has shifted roles and responsibilities around, creating a gap in team chemistry. Derek Engelland played forward on Friday and defense on Sunday, something that should not happen on a regular basis.
Overall, the Penguins are glad to have their stars back in the lineup. Now the focus shifts to a Western road trip and to finding another winger to replace Pascal Dupuis.