Friday, November 11, 2011

Pens 3 - Stars 1: Post-Game Quick Hits

Well, the Pens came out strong in the third and established the tempo right from the start. The Pens PP just terrorized the Stars tonight: great puck movement, great net-front presence by Kunitz, and Malkin/Neal both shooting on net. Again in the third, the Pens had a goal disallowed on the PP, but this time Kunitz got a bit too aggressive in attempting a redirect in the crease, knocking into Lehtonen. Still, the Pens again find a PP goal a few moments later that started with a great keep-in by Sullivan at the left point, cross to Letang, down to Malkin in the RW slot, over to Neal in the LW slot, before the pass over to Kunitz all alone at the right of the crease is redirected by a defenseman behind Lehtonen. Brilliant puck movement and excellent determination paid dividends.

Kudos to Matt Cooke for a great pressure play on Sheldon Souray (who he had words with earlier in the third) at the Pens blueline to force a turnover and create a breakaway. A Dallas defender trips Cooke on his way to the net resulting in a penalty shot. Cooke, on his first penalty shot, coolly takes the puck wide left towards the net, fakes backhand, gets Lehtonen to go down, and goes back forehand to elevate the puck to the roof of the net over Lehtonen's outstretched pads. Cooke provides the only insurance the Pens needed in this one.

Neal, who had a monster game scoring two, nearly gets his third pressuring deep with Lehtonen pulled. Malkin, with some great work deep on the forecheck, tries to get Neal the puck cross-crease, but it was picked off by the Dallas defense. No matter, the message was already received. Not surprisingly, Matt Niskanen also had a solid game including a number of solid shots on net.

Great win off some great work. The Pens simply outworked the Stars and made Dallas pay for taking penalties with some excellent work with the man advantage. How nice is it that opposing teams have to think twice about taking penalties against the Pens?

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