When Brent Johnson let in a wrister from 40 feet then Brad Richards threw in a second goal after parking himself in the right circle uncovered for an hour and a half both within the first eight minutes of the First Period, I’m pretty sure we all had the same thought running through our heads: This is going to turn out to be the most perfect game the Penguins have ever played. And you know something? We were right.
The Penguins were completely flawless against Dallas in every conceivable way, and were extremely entertaining to watch in the process. The defense? Perfect. Johnson? Perfect. Michalek in his return from injury? Perfect and perfectly healthy. The power play? Is there a word more perfect than “perfect”? Like, “doubleplusperfect”? Because that’s how good the power play was.
Sure, the scoreboard at the end of the day said Dallas 5, Pittsburgh 2, and the only life the Pens showed was a string of random fights in the middle of the second including Sidney Crosby getting into the action, Kris Letang dropping his gloves, remembering his hand is injured, and pathetically clinging to Brenden Morrow, and Mike Comrie making himself useful and sticking up for his teammates by punching the puck. Shockingly, none of these actions sparked a four-goal comeback.
Hopefully the Pens can continue this flawless play in Anaheim on Friday night. The way the power play has been looking lately, in addition to the defense and the incredibly indistinguishable play of Comrie, Mike Rupp, Max Talbot, and Chris Kunitz, I’m moderately confident that they can keep it up.
2 Quick Sidenotes, after the jump:
1) Paul Steigerwald was livid when the refs awarded Loui Eriksson the penalty shot, but I thought it was absolutely the right call. Steigerwald correctly pointed out that Eriksson didn’t have clear separation from Goligoski, but that was only because Goligoski grabbed him as Eriksson was in the process of blowing past him, and thus moved along with him before pulling Eriksson down. It was, as such, a clear breakaway, and I thought the refs used proper discretion.
2) It’s nit-picky, but I thought Bylsma should’ve called his timeout after the second Dallas goal. The Pens were in such obvious disarray to that point, they had given absolutely no indication that they were on the verge of a push-back, and expecting them to somehow survive the remaining 12 minutes unscathed and get to the locker room was a tricky proposition. They ended up not allowing another goal until the Second, but Johnson had to make several stellar saves in the second half of the period (and Richards hit the inside of the crossbar), and the Pens finished with only four shots and never came close to scoring. A Timeout might not have changed anything, but when the first eight minutes are that lopsided, that’s precisely the time to attempt it; the only other time it could possibly be more useful would be to give Crosby and Malkin extra rest if the Pens pulled their goalie in the final minutes, but why even worry about that when the team looks like they have no shot at keeping the game close for that long?