There are increasing parallels between the Pittsburgh Penguins and cinematic hero Rocky Balboa. Even though Rocky is a Philadelphia native, the Penguins ability to survive an onslaught despite being tired, overmatched, and battered fits the Rocky scripts too well. Tuesday night, the Penguins started quickly but didn’t have enough energy for 60 minutes. Somehow, someway, they beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 at T-Mobile Arena.
Vegas threw figuratively threw punches like a Rocky villain, too. Vegas outshot the Penguins 35-16, yet the Penguins never trailed and never had less than a one-goal lead.
“It’s tough to dig yourself out of a hole when you give up a few,” Marc-Andre Fleury said.
But make no mistake, the Penguins didn’t have any starch in their legs after their hot start. None. And that’s why the win was even more impressive. The schedule makers have piled on the Penguins injury-riddled roster. After three games in less than 72 hours from Thursday to Sunday, the Penguins hopped on a plane to Vegas for their fourth game in six days.
Tristan Jarry was good. So, too, was Kris Letang, who has been under heavy fire for a few bad performances and sub-par play over the past few weeks.
“He cares so much. He’s so invested in helping the Penguins win,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “And he wants to be at his best. I thought he was really good tonight.”
Letang played over 26 minutes
And yet the Penguins are 2-1-1. Count this writer as impressed as I am surprised. This is the part of the movie where the Penguins struggle and the dramatic music plays. Perhaps a good montage with Jake Guentzel’s smiling face and some slumped shoulders? Yet even as the Penguins are not playing their best hockey, they are winning.
“I don’t know if we ever put our foot on the gas,” Sullivan said.