In contrast with the ugly game by Pitt over the weekend, the Pens have been playing fantastic. They started out the weekend with a perfect game for national TV on Sunday, and then came back against a very good Sabres team tonight. Overall, it was a very impressive pair of games. The Pens were skating, they were keeping dumb penalties to a minimum, and they were getting pucks on net. You’re going to get a lot of good results if you do those three things.
The first game against Detroit was fantastic television. The Red Wings aren’t the team that we saw the last time they were in Pittsburgh. They’re in a very tough Western Conference, but they’re struggling pretty hard right now. The Pens took advantage and completely tilted the ice on the Wings. They led the shooting battle 47-24. You usually deserve 2 points if you do that, but there was a problem. Jimmy Howard, in his first real stint with the big boy club in Detroit, was standing on his head in net. He came up with 46 saves on the night in a fantastic performance. It was really special to watch, even from an opposing fan’s perspective. Beyond that, it was an extremely clean game. Not a lot of penalties or turnovers. Just good hockey the way it was meant to be played. With Howard kepping them in the game with key saves, the Wings were able to draw overtime and eventually a shootout. Fleury came up big as he’s been doing in shootouts for a while now, and the Pens come out with the extra point (that they probably deserved anyway due to their play). Just a fantastic hockey game. I’m sure the NHL is thanking its lucky stars that that was on national TV. That’s the kind of game that will bring in new fans.
The second game had a lot more offense to say the least. The Pens jumped out with a real quick goal (as in first minute quick). The Sabres answered with a pair of quick goals 5 minutes later and a third striaght to start the second period. The Pens rounded out the second period with their own run of 4 straight goals, and then hung on for dear life in the third. I’ll tell you the truth. When we went down 3-1 I thought we were cooked. Ryan Miller is a fantastic goalie, and even thought we’ve had good luck with him in the past I thought it just wasn’t meant to be. That’s the Sabres game. Jump out to a lead and choke you with their defense. But, lo and behold, the Pens pulled it out. This was a fairly physical back and forth game, but very entertaining to watch overall. Sid had a hat trick, but I mostly liked that the Pens hustled throughout the entire game. I have to admit that I was a bit worried about that coming off Sunday’s game. You can’t ask for much more out of a team than what the Pens showed these past two days. I’d love another quick game here to keep up the momentum, but the next game isn’t until Saturday against Montreal. We’ll see how it goes.