For the first time since their win over the Boston Bruins last Sunday, the Pittsburgh Penguins returned to action after their bye to face the Detroit Red Wings.
This is the same Red Wings team that ran Pittsburgh out of the building in Detroit on New Years Eve. However, this time in Pittsburgh, Detroit was no match for the three-headed monster of Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin.
Malkin lead the way with four points (two goals, two assists), while Crosby and Kessel both had a goal and two assists as the club won their third straight 4-1 on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the dominance, it didn’t all come easy for the Penguins. Four first period penalties showed a lack of discipline and did cost them once as Justin Abdelkader briefly tied the game at one on a no-look, backhand rebound for Detroit’s lone tally of the day.
The Red Wings finished 1-for-7 with the man advantage.
The Penguins meanwhile finished 2-5.
With the club now nearly at full strength from a health standpoint and the big boys looking hungry and motivated, it feels like the beginning of a run to the playoffs may be gaining momentum.
Tristan Jarry made 29 saves as he rebounded from a bad second period against Boston last week and looked back in recent form.
Matt Murray was excused from the club for the time being to attend to a personal family matter.
With the Rangers coming to town on a quick turn around on Sunday night, will we see Jarry again after a week of rest? Or will the Penguins turn to Casey De Smith?
The win snapped a three game losing streak versus Detroit.
Jimmy Howard, who sparkled on New Years Eve, was under siege all afternoon. It could have been worse, but he stoned Kessel on a breakaway after the score had went 3-1.
A big save at the time, but not close to enough.
Crosby’s goal was typical Sid form as he lifted the stick of the Red Wings defender in the slot as the pass was coming to him. He quickly then caught the pass in one motion and rifled it by Howard Tom make it 4-1 in the power play in the third.
The only other point-getters besides the big three were Carl Hagelin and Olli Maatta getting assists on the opening goal. Hagelin played a strong game, using his speed on the fore-checking and getting plenty of work on the PK.
Ian Cole remained a healthy scratch for the Pens in favor of Matt Hunwick.
Trevor Daley returned to Pittsburgh for the first time since signing in Detroit after last season.
Kessel’s goal that made it 2-1 was his team-leading 19th on the year and another power play goal as he continues to be among the league leaders with the man advantage.
Not too bad for a player not picked for the All-Star game.
We’ll have coverage of Penguins and New York Rangers tomorrow evening and stay tuned for my recap column on Monday morning.
Thanks for reading!