Rivalry Weekend Provides Great Success
Opening the season with back to back games in consecutive days is a difficult task. The kicker would be taking on two division rivals poised at humiliating you in their respective home openers.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, however, were poised in their own right.
The Penguins would beat the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday and then follow up their performance with another victory against the New York Rangers on Sunday. Despite sloppy play and some new faces, Pittsburgh appears to be one of the more congealed teams early on.
With a 3-1 victory on Saturday against Philadelphia, Pittsburgh exercised some early demons. Establishing the lead early on, Pittsburgh scored off of a friendly bounce. The Paul Martin power play shot appeared to deflect off of the stick of Tyler Kennedy and then in behind net minder Ilya Bryzgalov.
James Neal would add on the Penguins second goal with a set up face off victory, courtesy of Evgeni Malkin. The game would end at 3-1, Kunitz scoring the third goal (empty net, PP) late in the third period.
Pittsburgh rode their way to victory on superior passing, skating, and special teams. The Penguins held the Flyers potent power play off the score sheet, despite a multitude of chances.
The following evening; Pittsburgh traveled to New York City to take on the Rangers, in what was their home opener. The Penguins established their superior power play early on, scoring just 1:48 into the game.
After allowing a nifty 5 on 3 goal by Rangers Captain Ryan Callahan, Pittsburgh took over. They would score four unanswered goals over the next 31 minutes and would decisively control play.
Even former NHL’er Mathew Barnaby decided to tweet about the game's tilt in momentum.
“I play this game with my kids. It’s called keep away!!! Wow domination”
The game would finish at 6-3, with Rick Nash adding his first goal as a Ranger. Thomas Vokoun would register his first victory as a Penguin just a day after Marc-Andre Fleury registered his 227th, a Pittsburgh Penguins team record.
Three Weekend Stars -
Paul Martin was exceptional all weekend. After almost being run out of town, Martin was paired with the defensive minded Orpik and instantly shility owed chemistry. His above average two way play is part of the reason that Pittsburgh has taken off to a 2-0-0 start.
James Neal has picked up exactly where he left off last season. With three goals in two games, James Neal has re-established himself as one of the top goal scorers in the league. With his skill set and Evgeni Malkin’s play making, it is very possible that James Neal finds himself amongst the top five goal scorers on the season.
Evgeni Malkin gets the third star of the weekend and it is simple to understand why. Malkin has four assists in two games and his exceptional back checking has led to a multitude of turnovers. Malkin has been Pittsburgh’s most complete player so far and earns the third weekend star.