Injuries have taken their toll on the Pittsburgh Penguins as of late, but that didn’t stop them from going into Detroit and leaving with a 4-1 victory over the Red Wings. The loss was the third straight for the Detroit Red Wings, but it was the third straight win for the Penguins.
Shortly before the puck dropped, it was announced that Kris Letang would be sitting out with an undisclosed injury. This inserted Brian Dumoulin into the lineup for his NHL debut for a depleted Penguins defense core. The Red Wings took advantage of the Pittsburgh defense in the first period when they took a 1-0 lead about six minutes into the game. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall threw the puck on net from the blue line, but on its way to the net it appeared to deflect off the stick of Sidney Crosby and past Jeff Zatkoff for the score. About three minutes later the Penguins got a chance on the power play thanks to a Todd Bertuzzi hooking call against Jussi Jokinen. With Letang out, Dan Bylsma put Evgeni Malkin and Matt Niskanen on the points of the power play unit. On the man-advantage, Malkin set-up Sidney Crosby for a one-time attempt, but that was stopped by Jonas Gustavsson. However, Crosby followed his shot and in the scrum that ensued in front of the Red Wing net, the Penguins captain bounced the puck off of Drew Miller and into the net to tie the game at one. Just a few minutes after the Crosby goal, the Penguins got another power play opportunity when Niklas Kronwall got whistled for hooking Chuck Kobasew. At 12:50 of the period, the Penguins cashed in on the power play once again when Malkin took a centering pass from Jussi Jokinen and wristed the puck past Gustavsson to give Pittsburgh the 2-1 lead. Before the period came to close, Deryk Engelland put Pittsburgh down another defenseman when he caught Justin Abdelkader in the head with his shoulder/elbow and received a match penalty. The match penalty sent Engelland to the locker room for the rest of the game, and put the Penguins in a situation where they had to play with five defensemen for the rest of the contest. The first period ended with the Penguins ahead 2-1 on the scoreboard, but trailed the Red Wings in shots, 12-9.
The second period didn’t contain too much action, except that the Penguins extended their lead to two goals when Olli Maatta fired the puck on net that trickled across the goal line with less than a minute remaining in the frame. The rookie defenseman’s second goal of the season put the Penguins up 3-1 at the second intermission despite only registered four shots on goal during the period.
The third period didn’t start out great for the Penguins or their fans. While on the power play after a hi-sticking penalty to Detroit’s Drew Miller, Evgeni Malkin was injured when he was attempting to disrupt Luke Glendening’s path to the Pittsburgh net. Malkin was called for hooking before slamming into the boards behind the net. He appeared to grab the back of his leg or knee, who knows we’re not doctors. While the Pittsburgh fan base was going into a panic about Malkin’s injury, Sidney Crosby sealed the game for the Penguins at 14:33 when he ripped a shot past the Red Wing netminder after taking a pass from Joe Vitale. The secondary assist on Crosby’s goal went to Chris Conner, so there is your evidence of a Vitale-Crosby-Conner line. That happened. Jeff Zatkoff slammed the door on Detroit after that first period goal, and the Penguins got out of Detroit with a 4-1 victory.
The Penguins cancelled Sunday practice after back-to-back games, and get back on the ice Monday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Pittsburgh (7:00 pm/et; Root Sports, NHL Network, SNET-O).
-Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin will be re-evaluated in Pittsburgh, and Malkin was seen walking around the locker room with only a slight limp.
-Deryk Engelland will have an in-person hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Wednesday about his hit to Justin Abdelkader.
-How about Jeff Zatkoff lately? He’s had five straight wins, and has allowed only one goal in each of his last two starts.
-Paging Phillip Samuelsson and/or Brian Gibbons (based on severity of Letang and Malkin injuries, of course).
1. PIT C Evgeni Malkin (1G, 2A)
2. PIT G Jeff Zatkoff (28 saves, .966 save %)
3. PIT LW Chris Kunitz (1A)