The Penguins rallied from two multiple goal deficits by scoring four times in the 3rd period to win Tuesday night at the Consol Energy Center. The Penguins played a careless first period falling down 2-0 and 3-1, but they showed signs of pulling it back together by cutting the Colorado lead in half going into the 3rd. In the final period, the Pens were absolutely dominant. The Avalanche had no answer for the Penguins up-tempo play as they poured on goal after goal en route to a 6-3 final score.
I’ve gotta say, this was quite the fun game to watch. It was very high paced and there were some jaw dropping goals scored by both sides. My two favorites came from Duchene for the Avs and Malkin. Duchene collected a pass in the 1st period skating towards the far boards in the slot and corraled it by bringing it through his legs from behind him where he fired a backhand by a helpless Fleury. It was seriously a video game goal. Then, not to be outdone, Malkin put up a highlight goal of his own in the 3rd as Neal dropped off a pass in the near corner and Malkin one touched it through the defenders legs and completely undressed Varlamov before tucking it in the net before help arrived.
Overall, this was a big win for the Pens. After falling short of a 3 goal comeback against Carolina over the weekend, the Pens knew that they capable of coming back from a multiple goal deficit, and Tuesday night, they showed it. It took a lot of grit and determination but in the end the Penguins showed what some high end talent and excellent conditioning can do late in a hockey game. Malkin became an unstoppable force starting at the halfway point, and once the score got to be 3-2 you could tell it was only a matter of time before the Pens were going to get overwhelm the young Avs.
James Neal also played yet another solid game and has extended his home goal scoring streak to start the season to 8. That gives him 12 on the season which is one behind the league leader Kessel who scored his 13th last night. Neal also added a pair of assists and played well away from the puck to boot. The deal to get Neal from Dallas last season is really paying dividends without a healthy Crosby in the lineup, but he has yet to prove that he can maintain this level of play for a full season as he started well last season and faded as the playoff push began.
There were other great performances in this game as well. Jordan Staal is playing better than I’ve ever seen him play as he posted his 8th goal of the season and absolutely dominated play along the boards. Kris Letang single handedly prevented a few goals and scored in the 3rd on a fantastic effort which resulted in beating Varlomov with a backhand on the shortside. It was a play that even top scoring forwards couldn’t make and was a tribute to how good Letang’s hands are. There’s definately a reason why he leads things off in our shootout rotation. He just continues to improve and it’s beginning to look like the sky is the limit for him.
The Pens will look to add to their NHL leading 25 points as they head to Tampa to take on the Lightning and their highly controversial 1-3-1 trap. Puck drops at 7:30.