The Pittsburgh Penguins have won five in a row and the power play orchestrated a convincing 6-1 win over the St. Louis Blues, Saturday at the Enterprise Arena. The game was a dichotomy for the Penguins as St. Louis largely had the better of the even strength play, at least until the Penguins buried them with the fourth power play goal.
Actually, St. Louis had 65 percent of the shots and shot attempts in the first period. The Penguins blocked nine shots and St. Louis blocked only one.
The second period was even worse at even strength for the Penguins. St. Louis controlled the puck and the play with 77 percent of the shots and attempts in the second period. In fact, the second period was mostly played inside the Penguins blue line but one player made a big difference.
“I still think we can build certain areas,” Sidney Crosby cautioned. “We’re confident because we’ve found ways to win but we can improve in some areas, too.”
The third period doesn’t really count because the Penguins took the life from St. Louis by then.
The Penguins transition game and low play throughout their lineup were not as present as they needed to be. The Penguins should have been able to skate St. Louis but instead were pinned, 5v5.
“You go up 4-0 in the second and we kind of took our foot off the gas,” said Kris Letang who had another big game. Letang had three points (0g 3a). “We came back in the third and took it back.”
UPDATE: Late Saturday, the NHL made a scoring change. Scorers awarded the second-period goal originally credited to Letang to Patric Hornqvist.
Matt Murray played his best game since returning from IR. He’s made more saves and he’s had better numbers, but Saturday was the first time Murray was tall in net for 60 minutes. St. Louis missed shots, hit a couple posts and a lot of glass trying to find daylight around Murray. By late in the second period, Murray forced St. Louis to pass up good shots to look for the pretty play.
Ask the Penguins what happens when a team passes up shots and plays for the perfect opportunity.
“I try to keep the same mindset no matter what the score is,” said Murray who was also the recipient of 23 blocked shots.
St. Louis has been playing well and had they stayed out of the penalty box, they may have pressed the Penguins. However, Alex Steen took a pair of costly penalties including in the first nine seconds of the game.
A couple of Penguins defenders had rough nights, including Marcus Pettersson (we’ll call that the Shelly Anderson curse).