Saturday, December 11, 2010

Game 31: Pens 5, Sabres 2

Pens get firepower from unlikely sources to pick up 12th straight.

Penguins- 5
-Dustin Jeffrey (Lovejoy, Adams) 1-6:43
-Arron Asham (Talbot) 1-9:31
-Alex Goligoski (Dupuis, Crosby) 3-12:09
-Mike Rupp (Jeffrey) 3-16:43
-Matt Cooke (EN) (Adams) 3-19:17
W- Fleury (34-36)

Sabres- 2
-Tyler Ennis (Roy, Vanek) 1-15:49
-Jason Pominville (Myers, Sekera) 3-13:00
L- Miller (19-23)

Sidney Crosby has been so good during this 12 game win-streak that questions began to arise about what happens when he has an "off game." Unlikely heroes like Dustin Jeffrey and Mike Rupp answered that question quite effectively. Both had key goals to seal up a 5-2 win Saturday night in Buffalo.

Jeffrey scored the first goal of the game when he drove to the net and chipped home a Ben Lovejoy pass for his first NHL goal of the year during his 1st shift of his first NHL game of the year. Not that scoring has been anything new to DJ, who was tied for the AHL points lead at the time of his callup. Arron Asham blasted home another goal at the 9:31 mark for his 4th as a Penguin and the 2-0 lead. Asham slapshots are becoming a more common occurrence, and I think he might even be surprising himself with the power he is getting behind them. Tyler Ennis connected on a powerplay near the end of the period to cut the lead to 2-1.

There was no scoring in the 2nd, but there was still plenty of action. Things heated up pretty fast when Mike Weber and Sidney Crosby engaged in a puck battle near the corner boards. Apparently Sid must have said something that Weber didn't like because Weber started throwing sucker punches at Crosby long after the puck was up the ice. I guess Weber wasn't in the mood to back himself up, as he rejected fight offers from Asham, Rupp, and Orpik throughout the game. Of course Weber had no problem running his mouth from the safety of his runway after the horn ended the 2nd period, but it would be the Pens who had the last laugh on the scoreboard.

With the game still very much up for grabs with 8 minutes left, Alex Goligoski wristed a shot through traffic past Miller to give Pittsburgh a brief 3-1 lead. Crosby did pick up an assist on that one, and extended his points streak to 18. The security blanket was brief though, because Jason Pominville tapped a rebound into an empty net after Fleury fell down making the initial save. But Buffalo's comeback would be stifled a few minutes later by the powerful stick of Mike Rupp when he pounded home a rebound for the 4-2 "put away" goal. This goal looked like an XBOX360 glitch, because it looked like Rupp literally slammed the puck through Ryan Miller. Matt Cooke got an empty netter in the final minute of the game to stretch the lead to 5-2.

It's nice to know that there is a capable team beyond Sid, and that they can be ready to step up to the plate when called upon.

Game Changing Play:

Goligoski's goal looms large on the scoreboard, because it essentially neutralized Pominville's goal and all inklings of a Sabres comeback.


Offense: B+ As mentioned above, its great to see these guys stepping up and scoring.

Defense: A Really fine job. No complaints.

Fleury: A- Also no complaints. Fleury looked like his usual self.

Powerplay: C 0 for 4. They looked ok, but not enough quality opportunities.

Penalty Kill: B- They did give up a goal. Granted it was a 3 v 5, but it was still a goal. I'm not worried about the Pens PK right now, but they have shown chips in the armor after being so good in November.

3 Big Points:

-So Dustin Jeffrey's debut in Pittsburgh was a smash hit, and that comes as no surprise to anyone who has watched WBS this season. But either he or Conner (or in theory I guess Letestu but that's not happening) have to go down to WBS once Malkin gets healthy. That should spark a bit of a debate if they both continue to play at such a high level.

-Zbynek Michalek is finally starting to live up to the hype I had for him when the Pens. Not that he was bad before, but now he has ramped up his physical play, stick work, and shot blocking. Right now he is certainly worth his salt.

-I don't think I've seen as emotional of a game from Brooks Orpik in quite a while. Candy looked like he wanted a piece of anything that moved. Great intensity.

My 3 Stars:

1. Dustin Jeffrey
2. Zbynek Michalek
3. Marc-Andre Fleury

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