Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Penguins have more Stars than Dallas!

By: MF, 

The Pittsburgh Penguins look to end their short road trip tonight, with a win against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. The Penguins have fallen into a little losing streak as they lost their last three games. They need a win to bring back to Pittsburgh and start a new winning streak. It will be good for them to get a victory without the services of Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist. This kind of win will only help them as the playoffs loom ahead. The Penguins are going into this contest having won eight of their last 11 games against the Stars. They are also averaging a 2.44 goals-against average this month. This matches their production during the month of October and puts them seventh in the National Hockey League (NHL).

Getting production from the offense will be key. The last two few games, they haven't lacked in chances on net. They have lacked on having a finishing touch to get some points on the board. In addition, there has been a problem of staying disciplined in the game, which their last game they had improved. All the lines will have to contribute with two key guys missing from the offense and getting that finishing touch on their chances will make determine if they come out with the win. Last Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils, every Penguin skater recorded a shot for just the second time this season. Guys like Chris Kunitz will be looked upon to produce. Kunitz has 10 points (five goals and five assists) in his last nine games versus the Stars. During that stretch, the Penguins are 5-1-1 in the seven games that he recorded a point. Another player to look at is Craig Adams. The fourth line is where things get going and the next line comes out to score. One can't take the Penguins' fourth line to lightly. Adams has nine goals against in five-on-five situations, which is the fifth lowest total in the NHL.

However a game is not won without the stability and strength of the defense. The Penguins have a healthy defensive lineup (knock on wood). The Penguins have only allowed 125 even-strength goals, which puts them sixth in the NHL. That is do in large part to having a solid defense and great goalie. The Penguins have the luxury of having Kris Letang and Paul Martin has their shutdown pair. They have both great defensive sense, but can carry the puck well to create scoring chances. This gives them a added edge, so that the offense is not totally alone when it comes to scoring. A guy on the backhand that has a wicked shot from the point is Christian Ehrhoff. Since returning from his injury (playing in three games), Ehrhoff has recorded 14 shots, four hits, two blocked shots and has spent a total of 22:26 on the ice for each game. Having him back has taken the weight of the shoulders of the top defensive unit and giving the defense a chance to jump up in plays more. Though the defense is confident and can set up when needed, a large amount of that confidence stems from the goalies. Both Marc-Andre Fleury and Thomas Greiss have been unreal between the pipes. Recently, Greiss has been given the chance to get into more games, which leaves Fleury to rest up for the playoffs. Some teams don't have this luxury, this late in the season. Greiss has a 1.56 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage in his last five appearances. With these numbers, the Penguins can feel comfortable giving the "Flower" a rest more often and having him fresh for the Stanley Cup run.

Now the Penguins are in Dallas to face the Stars tonight. They held an optional skate this morning and 14 players took part in it. Nothing special happened and no new injury update information. Tonight's game will be about getting to second and third chance opportunities. The Penguins have to focus on getting traffic to the net and finishing their chances, otherwise this game will end like the last three. Lets Go Pens!

The Pens lineup is as follows:

Kunitz, Crosby, Comeau
Spaling, Sutter, Perron
Winnik, Ebbett, Downie
Bennett, Lapierre, Adams

Martin, Letang
Ehrhoff, Lovejoy
Scuderi, Cole

Fleury in the net!

Play By Play
Pens 1 Stars 2

3rd Period
0:00- The Pens fall for the fourth stretch time as the Stars get the 2-1 win. The Pens started to come on halfway through the second period, but couldn't get the win in the end. Good effort in the end.

1:33- Empty net for the Pens.

1:59- Downie goes down hard on the ice and the trainers attend to him. He is able to skate off on his own.

3:31- The referees are going to let the teams decide this one...I mean unless a someone is thrown into the crowd.

5:17- Both teams are back to full strength.

6:28- Crosby is all over the ice right now.

7:17- Finally a penalty is killed. Perron and a Star take a seat. Some 4 on 4 hockey.

7:32- The referees are letting everything go. Nasty battles in front of Lehtonen as the Pens crash the net!

8:43- The Pens power-play expires, some good chances on net. They just need to keep up the pressure.

10:43- Crosby drives to the net, draws a penalty and ends up in the net! Jokipakka in the box for holding.

12:28- The Pens are starting to get some offensive zone time and chances on net!

14:30- Sceviour gets the jump on Ehrhoff and Lovejoy comes over to cut down the angle. Fleury is able to get a shoulder on Sceviour's shot!

16:21- A little stagnate start for the Pens after having to kill a penalty. Some good shifts in the last few minutes.

18:00- A successful penalty kill for the Pens!

20:00- We are headed into the third period! The Pens penalty kill as Downie is in the box for slashing! Lets Go Pens!

2nd Period
0:00- The second period horn sounds and the Stars have the 2-1 lead.

2:21- Fleury continuing to make the necessary saves to keep the Pens within one.

4:15- Winnik with a unreal scoring chance, point blank range!

6:34- LETANG SCORES ON THE POWER-PLAY! Crosby finds Letang, who just rips a quick shot towards the net! It goes through traffic and past Kunitz, who was screening Lehtonen! 2-1 Stars.

6:42- Spezza goes for tripping and the Pens have a power-play chance.

8:18- Letang is set free.

10:18- The Pens need something to get them going...well this doesn't help. Letang goes to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct.

12:29- The Pens come up with a huge penalty kill.

14:29- Now the Stars will get a power-play chance. Comeau goes for roughing and a huge penalty kill for the Pens.

14:44- The Pens give up another odd man rush. Stars with a 2 on 1, but too many passes by the Stars.

16:23- Benn Scores. Benn is left all alone in front and Fleury makes the first save, but Benn stuffs home the rebound. 2-0 Stars.

17:46- Ritchie Scores. Ritchie tries to get a pass to Horcoff in front. Bennett ends up putting the puck through the five-hole of his own goaltender. 1-0 Stars.

18:25- Fleury makes another great glove save. The best part of the first and beginning of this period for the Pens has been Fleury...hands down.

20:00- Second period time! The Pens have to come with speed and take it to Dallas! Lets Go Pens!

1st Period
0:00- First period ends and this game is scoreless. The #Pens are lucky to still have this game at zero. Not a great start.

0:08- Letang and McKenzie have a big altercation behind the Stars' net. Letang tried to get away, but wasn't able. Then he gave in.

0:58- Not a great first period for Kunitz. He has been turning over pucks left and right.

1:49- The Stars are back to full strength.

3:49- Another power-play opportunity for the Pens. Demers heads to the sin bin for tripping. Not sure if I should be excited about a power-play, given what the last one was like.

4:34- The Pens successful kill the Stars power-play. They are even able to register four shots...more then the power-play.

6:34- Comeau will go to the box for interference and the Stars get a power-play chance.

6:47- Ehrhoff fires a hard shot on net and Crosby just fans on the rebound shot!

9:03- Horrible power-play for the Pens. It comes to an end with zero shots registered. They were just giving up on shooting and looking for pretty plays. Bad all around.

11:03- A power play for the Pens as Eakin takes a seat for holding. The first power-play for the Pens since Sunday.

13:22- Jokipakka gets a chance all alone, but Fleury denies him twice! The Pens need to wake up and slow the Stars down.

14:34- The Stars have great speed to start and are pressuring the Pens. Not the best start for the Pens, they need to pick things up more.

16:29- Kunitz is having a tough start with a few turnovers.

18:36- Fleury makes a few solid saves early. Tempers raise after. 

20:00- The puck has dropped at the American Airlines Center! The Pens battle the Dallas Stars! Put them on their heels Pens! Lets Go Pens! 

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