Penguins locker room: Crosby Chuckles in Malkin, Gary shines
The Pittsburgh Penguins’ six-game winning streak wasn’t top of mind inside the locker room on Wednesday, but their constants and ability to find ways to win were. While the Penguins have found various ways to win over the past month, it all started with an uncharacteristic meeting on a wide open track against the Florida Panthers on Thursday at FLA Live Arena.
The Penguins were on the short end of chances until the third period but still scored their seventh straight win, 4-2 over the Florida Panthers at FLA Live Arena.
They made more high-risk chances in the first period (8) than they did in the entire Dallas game (5), according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
The Penguins metaphorically opened their doors in the second period, and it became more hockey fire than the team had played in weeks, if not all season. Florida had nine high-risk chances compared to just three for the Penguins.
However, the Penguins scored both goals in the second half, while Tristan Jarry made several great saves. He was 10-0-1 in his last 11 games and increased his save percentage to . 923.
Early in the second period, Brian Rust set up Chris Letang in a two-on-one game. Letang pinned it for his fifth career hit.
Then Jake Guentzel may have evaded a kick that was counted as a power play goal. Guentzel slid his skates into a puck but never turned his skates for a true kicking motion. Either call would stand, but it counted.
However, the Penguins’ third goal was sore. On the power play, Sidney Crosby launched a left circle snap. Evgeny Malkin hugged the post to deflect it, but the shot hit Malkin just above the leg pad but below the pants.
Malkin writhes in pain on the ice as the goal lights flash red. He was the winner of the game.
Crosby had two assists on Thursday, including a shot by Malkin that seemed to make Crosby laugh a little.
“I don’t think (there’s anything seriously wrong with it). I got it pretty good,” Crosby said, “but I hope there’s nothing that’s going to take him away.”
“I think if you’re going to hit, get a target out of it.”
Now this is the reaction of guys who are close friends. The jokes on Friday when the penguins have a day off in South Florida must be equally savage.
Pittsburgh Penguins linebacker Chris Letang also downplayed Malkin’s pain, “It’s going to be okay. It’s tough.”
Letang also downplayed any surprise by overplaying Jarry’s 32 saves. For Letang, this was just another example of Jari’s talent.
“We all know he’s really good. He’s going to win some games for us,” Letang said.
Not only did Malkin get credit for the power play goal, but he also assisted on Jake Guentzel’s contested power play goal in the second period. Guentzel slid his skate forward to deflect Malkin’s shot. Florida argued it was a kicking move. Guentzel credited Malkin with helping his technique.
“In Buffalo last week, Geno just told me to use my skates — kind of getting (my feet) back like he does,” said Guentzel. “He scored a lot of goals like that, and he did it again tonight.”
The Penguins locker room has every reason to be smiling, especially since everyone seems to think Malkin is going to be just fine. The team will have a day off in South Florida before traveling to the Carolinas for Sunday night’s game. They have won seven in a row.
*Dave Molinari contributed to this report from 77 Degrees Sunrise, FL (provided locker room video and will be on location in Carolina as well).
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