The Pittsburgh Penguins are still a long way from the rigidly structured and dedicated team which finished 2019 near the top of the NHL. However, the Penguins channeled their energy and showed far more good things than bad. Evgeni Malkin scored a pair of goals as he began to take over the game, as the Penguins beat the New Jersey Devils, 5-2 at the Prudential Center on Tuesday night.
The Penguins biggest bugaboo over the past weekend was giving up odd-man rushes by hanging activating-defensemen out to dry. And by forgetting to cover players in the defensive zone. And by forgetting many other details of their game.
“We have a lot of top priorities,” Jason Zucker said on Sunday.
The Pittsburgh Penguins responded well to the weekend beatings. The Penguins limited their odd-man rushes against, though they were far from perfect. They also showed more aggression in the offensive zone. The Penguins didn’t nibble at the perimeter or skate around the outside. The Penguins pressured the puck on the forecheck and backcheck.
“I thought we played great. We were on our toes the whole night,” goalie Matt Murray said. “We kept the pressure on them, and we didn’t give them time and space.”
The loose puck victories created scoring chances, power plays, and overall territorial advantage. The Penguins created a lot of those loose pucks with heavy forechecking and backchecking pressure.
The power play also underwent changes, which showed well. And the Penguins 5v3 PK in the third period may have saved the season.
“I thought we played the game the right way. I thought our leaders set the example. (Malkin) had a great game,” head coach Mike Sullivan said.