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Player Grades: Puck Pressure & Battles, Pens Beat Isles (+)

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Pittsburgh Penguins, sidney crosby, kasperi kapanen

The Pittsburgh Penguins reached the 10-win mark much faster than anyone would have guessed last week. As the team fell below .500 with a three-game losing streak, there was more than a little bit of worry, but a five-game win streak and three shutouts have changed the dark cloud to sunshine. \

The Penguins shut out the New York Islanders 1-0 on Friday night, and despite the depleted Islanders lineup, a win is a win.

The Penguins know about that the hard way, but the Islanders have lost eight in a row. They offered a spirited challenge, but the Penguins outplayed them.

“I thought our team played hard. I thought we played with a lot of pace. We had a great start. We were playing on our toes, starting with the very first shift,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “You know, we had a lot of energy, and we didn’t get rewarded in that first 10 or 12 minutes. I really liked the energy the guys came with, and I thought, for the most part, we sustained it through the 60 minutes.”

Of course, it’s also easier to win when your goalie is batting away pucks like Forest Gump on the ping pong table.

Chalkboard & Player Grades

“I mean, they’ve knocked us out twice in the last three years. So I think, you know, every time you play them, you get excited for this game,” Jake Guentzel said.

The Penguins have adjusted for each of their opponents. From the sticky forecheck without gaps against Toronto to the positional suffocation against Winnipeg, the Penguins forecheck changes the tune based on their opponent.

The Penguins were aggressive against the New York Islanders, and their forecheck more closely resembled hungry dogs.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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