Pens beat Edmonton 2-0
The Pittsburgh Penguins won Wednesday night 2-0 on the goals of Evgeni Malkin and David Perron. This was Malkin’s first game back after missing the previous 5 games. Malkin scored 24 seconds into the 2nd period, and Perron scored with just seconds left in the 2nd period. The Penguins have taken control of the Metropolitan division from the NY Islanders, but the Islanders have a game in hand of the Pens.
Malkin scored his team-leading 20th goal of the season last night. Perron scored his 12th of the season, but 7th goal in his last 13 games in Pittsburgh. He was traded from Edmonton earlier in January, and his goal was his first against his former team. Marc-Andre Fleury pitched his seventh shutout and his first since December 18th. The Penguins also led the game with 56 shots to Edmonton’s 46 shots. Leading the shot category is one of the things that the Penguins need to continue to do to win games and get ready to make a consistent postseason run.
The Penguins were a mere 5-4-3 in the month of January. When the Pens won they scored an average of 4.4 goals, but when they lost they gave up an average of 3.9 goals. The Pens need to get better defensively if they want to make a postseason run, and host an opening round playoff series. If Fleury can stand on his head from here on out, then the Pens have one of the best chances to make some hay in the playoffs because of their stout offense.
Evgeni Malkin has been the key to the Pens success this season for many reasons, one of them being his amazing ability to handle the puck and score. Malkin’s major contributing factor to the Pens this season has been keeping pressure off of Crosby’s line. Crosby is the best player in the world, so coaches tend to play their best players against Crosby. Malkin is also one of the best players in the world, and he makes coaches redistribute their firepower to multiple lines, which frees up both Malkin and Crosby.
I really think that until Crosby gets hot that it will be Malkin carrying the torch in Pittsburgh. Along with Malkin, Perron, Letang, and Hornqvist need to step up their game to the next level, so Malkin isn’t totally alone on the offensive end of the ice.