While the Pittsburgh Penguins have excelled under the leadership and talent of Sidney Crosby, the offensive punch of Evgeni Malkin, and the stellar netminding of Marc-Andre Fleury, it is their depth that makes them a great hockey team. That depth was on display and key to Monday night’s 4-1 win over Ottawa, preserving and extending the Penguins’ undefeated road record to 4-0. While Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby were held without a point, the Penguins scoresheet contained 9 other players from the Penguins’ lineup to include Tyler Kennedy (2G), Jordan Staal (1G), Bill Guerin (1G), Craig Adams (2A), Chris Kunitz (1A), Mark Eaton (1A), Jay McKee (1A), Matt Cooke (1A) and Mike Rupp (1A). For McKee and Rupp, it was their first point while donning the Penguins’ jersey. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 30 of 31 shots for an impressive 0.968 save percentage on the night.
The Penguins fell behind 1-0 at 15:59 of the first period after Milan Michalek took a pass from Jason Spezza and beat an acrobatic Marc-Andre Fleury with a very savvy play. The Penguins, who have made an early habit of answering goals, came back quickly with a goal of their own just 39 seconds later. Making an up ice drive with Sidney Crosby streaking towards the net, Bill Guerin fired a shot that rebounded off the boards, bounced off the twine and trickled back out in front of the net. Guerin quickly dove around the defenseman and while his skates were airborne chipped the puck up over the shoulder of Pascal Leclaire Gordy Howe style. It was a beauty of a goal for the 38-year old Guerin (soon to be 39). Chris Kunitz and Mrk Eaton were credited with the assists on the play. Shots were even at 9 in the first, and the Penguins were 0 for 1 on the powerplay and 1 for 1 on the kill.
In the 2nd period, it was the Tyler Kennedy show as he netted 2-goals to put the Penguins up 3-1. Kennedy’s first goal came from in close as he snuck the puck past Leclaire at 6:16. Jay McKee and Craig Adams picked up the assists. His second goal came at 18:02 on a blistering rocket from the point. This time the assists were awarded to Matt Cooke and Craig Adams. The Penguins outshot the Senators 10-8 in the period and both teams were 0 for 1 on the powerplay.
In the 3rd period, it was Jordan Staal getting his 3rd goal in 3-games as he took a turnover pass from Mike Rupp and buried it in the net behind Leclaire to make it 4-1. The Penguins had a rash of penalties in the 3rd period, but managed to keep the Senators at bay with Marc-Andre Fleury turning aside all 14-shots on net in the period. The Penguins managed 9-shots of their own in the period.
Tyler Kennedy led the team with 6-shots and his 2-goals were his just rewards for his gritty effort. Aside from netting his 3rd goal in as many games, Jordan Staal continued his mastery of the faceoff circle winning 9 of 15 (60%). Sporting one of the team’s 3 black eyes, Craig Adams led the team with 4-hits, had 2 assists, 3 blocked shots and was a +3 on the night. In my opinion, he was the team’s unsung hero of the night.
Indeed, it is the Penguins’ depth that makes them a formidable force on the ice. With three highly potent scoring lines, three offensively gifted defensemen, one of the league’s best shot blockers, and and outstanding goaltending duo, the Penguins are a triple threat of talent, depth, and grit. They will finish up their road trip on Wednesday night in Carolina, where they will meet the Hurricanes for the first time since sweeping them in the Eastern Conference Finals.