The Penguins entered the week of February 6th riding somewhat of an inconsistent wave recently. Registering a 2-2 record in their last four games, the Penguins were looking to turn things around against Montreal, Winnipeg and Tampa Bay.
- Penguins @ Canadiens (Tue, February 7th): Canadiens 3 – Penguins 2 (SO)
The Penguins and Canadiens both turned in a very spirited effort in this Tuesday night affair at Bell Centre. Through a combined 65-minutes, 64 combined shots on goal and a 9-round skills competition, the Canadiens edged out the Penguins 3-2 in a shoot-out. James ‘the Real Deal’ Neal continued his stretch of hot play with his 28th goal of the season, but the Penguins lost their 3rd out of their last five, giving the weekend stretch of games in Pittsburgh extra importance.
- Penguins v. Jets (Sat, February 11th): Penguins 8 – Jets 5
Entering the weekend the Penguins were hard-pressed to find a victory, finding themselves idling in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt with 65 points. The Pens surrendered two early goals in the first period, but were able to respond with four straight tallies and never relinquished the lead en route to an 8-5 walloping of the visiting Jets. Evgeni Malkin, in true hero fashion, scored for what seemed like the billionth game in a row and added four assists, registering his third 5-point game of the season. Kris Letang added 2 goals and an assist while Chris Kunitz added a goal and three assists in the Penguins’ victory. Things were looking up going into Sunday night’s tilt against Steven Stamkos and the Lightning, who have gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.
- Penguins v. Lightning (Sun, February 12th): Penguins 4 – Lightning 2
With a league-leading 37 goals on the year, Stamkos came into Pittsburgh on Sunday with every intention of overshadowing Evgeni Malkin and his blistering scoring pace. But it was Malkin who came up big yet again while Stamkos took advantage of his ‘day of rest’ in the Steel City. Again the Penguins found themselves down by two goals early in Sunday’s affair after Steve Downie scored a pair in quick succession near the halfway point of the frame. True to their style, however, the Penguins exploded back with four unanswered goals, two of which from the stick of golden-boy Evgeni Malkin. Letang and Kunitz also scored for the Penguins, finishing out the weekend sweep of Winnipeg and Tampa Bay in style.
Heading into the upcoming week the Pittsburgh Penguins sit in 5th place in the Eastern Conference, tied with the Philadelphia Flyers at 69 points. The Penguins face off against the Flyers next Saturday afternoon (1:00 p.m.) in what promises to be an important division battle, and also welcome the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday (7:00 p.m.) and visit the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday afternoon (12:30 p.m.) – giving the Penguins a second straight weekend filled with back-t0-back games. The Ducks and Sabres currently reside outside the playoff picture in their respective conferences; however, both teams have recently been winning consistently and should be tough opponents for the Pens.
Let’s keep this train a rollin’…