The Pittsburgh Penguins wasted little time capitalizing on an early power play against the Minnesota Wild during their 7-3 win at PPG Paints Arena on Tuesday. The Penguins, who’s power play has fallen to 20th in the league, tallied a slick power-play goal midway through the first period to begin the blowout win.
Watch the Penguins use a textbook breakout and a center drive zone entry to take advantage of an over-aggressive defense by Minnesota.
Lets start with the zone entry, Kris Letang starts the breakout in his own zone after recovering a clear. Letang delays to give Sidney Crosby ample time to build up speed through the neutral zone. Crosby, who starts along the far boards, will swing through the neutral zone and cut towards the center of the ice. Crosby uses his speed to take the pass in stride and effectively enter the zone.
As Crosby enters the Minnesota zone, all four of the Minnesota penalty killers collapse on Crosby in an attempt to quell the Penguins rush and use their number advantage to come away with an easy clear. Crosby, however, has options as he has three open teammates on the play including Patric Hornqvist and Evgeni Malkin at the top of the zone. Bryan Rust (at the bottom) is also uncovered which gives him space to drive to towards the net and sneak behind the collasping defense.
Crosby, after drawing all four defenders, gives up the puck on a successful zone entry to Evgeni Malkin and slip through the two front-facing Minnesota defenders on his way to net to become a passing option for Malkin. Malkin drives towards the three defenders to open space for Crosby and gives Bryan Rust chance to streak towards the right face-off circle. Letangs remains at the point as the last man back.
Malkin now in the middle of three Minnesota defenders passes to Rust who sets up for a potential cross-crease pass. Malkin’s center drive causes three Minnesota penalty killers to over pursue and gives Rust a chance to make a tight pass on his forehand to Crosby. Using the pace created by the previous sequence, Crosby sets up on the far post for a tap in. Hornqvist, to the left of Malkin, positions himself in the slot for another one time option for Rust as he skates towards the goal line.
Rust veers towards the net unimpeded drawing Minnesota’s Ryan Suter away from Evgeni Malkin and opening up a passing lane. Crosby still positioned for the one time tap but is covered backdoor, but with a Devan Dubnyk overcommitting, Rust can try to bank a pass off Crosby or the Minnesota defender in the blue paint. Rust chooses to thread a pass through to Malkin, who has a wide net to shoot for.
GOAL! The pass is a little behind a diving Malkin, but a second swat by the big Russian finds twine after the puck died in the snowy crease.