Ho. Lee. Shit.
A complete game. Top to bottom. The Pittsburgh Penguins played well. And they won. It’s actually possible. Marc-Andre Fleury wasn’t relied on to bail out irresponsible play. They scored timely goals. From their top six forwards.
This is the game. This is the team that they need to be. That is what wins playoff games. That is what wins playoff series. That is what wins Stanley Cups.
They didn’t play the perfect game. I’m not saying that. But they played pretty damn well. The two guys that deserve the most credit are Brandon Sutter and Kris Letang. They have been two of mine and a lot of other people’s whipping boys but the Pens don’t win this game without them tonight.
Letang played his best game since coming back from his stroke. And that might not even be going back far enough. That guy that was on the ice tonight was the guy that deserves that big contract. He played responsibly. He made the right plays. He made the smart plays. He was second on the team in ice time, was a plus one, blocked a couple shots, and scored the empty net goal to ice it at the end.
The only guy on the roster that may have deserved to ice the game more was Sutter. Ever since about the last week of the regular season, Sutter has started to play like the guy that the Pens thought they traded for. And tonight surpassed all of that. Evgeni Malkin played on Sidney Crosby‘s wing on the first line tonight which put Sutter centering the second line with Jussi Jokinen and James Neal. He made a great play, batting the puck out of the air to set up up Jokinen for the Pens second goal of the game which gave them the lead. He also won two thirds of his faceoffs, including a huge one towards the end of regulation when Sergei Bobrovsky was first pulled by the Blue Jackets for an extra attacker.
The Blue Jackets did have the lead in this game at one point. Boone Jenner scored the first goal of the game. A scrum in front of the net appeared to end when Fleury covered the puck but he didn’t hold it long enough to freeze it. David Savard poked it from under his glove and Jenner was able to put it behind him. Chris Kunitz tied the game on the power play which was the only goal of the second period.
Monday. 7pm. That is when the Pens need to end this series. No messing around. Want to win this series? Do the exact same thing you did tonight.