by Tony on 12/20/09 at 12:39 AM ET
Penguins’ defenseman Kris Letang, who gained notoriety during the Pens’ western Canada road trip of the ‘07-08 season when he beat both Miikka Kiprusoff and Roberto Luongo with outstanding moves for game-deciding goals, had been in a bit of a funk when it comes to scoring in the shootout.
But Letang, who had been only 3-for-12 in the shootout since the start of the ‘08-‘09 season, is back on a roll with his second straight game-deciding goal for the Pens, beating Sabres’ backup goalie and former Pen Patrick Lalime with a nice forehand/backhand move to the top shelf, giving the Penguins a 2-1 win over the Sabres at HSBC Arena.
The Penguins are now 6-0 in the shootout this season.
Give the Sabres credit, that was one entertaining game. The Sabres played the Penguins pretty well, especially defensively. The Penguins actually shot the puck towards the net 63 times, but they only got credit for 24 shots on goal. 19 more of those were missed shots, while the Sabres were credited with 20 blocked shots. No doubt that’s where Jay McKee got his pedigree from.
Both goals in regulation came in the first period. The Sabres got on the board first with some good pressure in the Pens’ end with several shots on Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury stopped all but one, as he was able to make the save on a wrister by Clarke Macarthur, but the rebound came right to the stick of Jason Pominville, who banged it into the net for a 1-0 Sabres lead.
It remained that way until late in the period, when as they’ve done numerous times already this season, got aggressive in the Sabres’ zone and were able to retain possession of the puck on a nice save by Chris Kunitz, who passed to a wide open Sidney Crosby all alone in front of Lalime. Lalime stopped Crosby’s scoring attempt, but Crosby was able to get the puck back to Kunitz, who simply fired the puck on net and was able to get it past Lalime, who hadn’t fully gotten positioned after his save on Crosby, to tie the game at 1-1 at 19:21.
But despite eight powerplays for the Sabres, including a 5-on-3 for 1:05 and a 4-on-3 for a full two minutes in overtime, they couldn’t get any more pucks past Fleury. The same goes for the Penguins, who went 0-for-5 themselves. Once again, the passing on the revamped powerplay looked better, but it appeared that they are starting to turn down shots in order to make the extra pass.
So onto the shootout it went, where Fleury was able to stop Pominville, Derek Roy and Drew Stafford. Letang started it off for the Pens and changed things up compared to his shootout goal on Thursday night in Philly. Instead of head faking and going forehand, he faked forehand and went backhand top shelf into the net. The only other Penguins shooter was Sidney Crosby, who was stopped for the first time this season after six attempts, although Lalime’s save on Crosby looked close to having him cross the goal line while sprawled out.
- Pens’ defenseman Mark Eaton went down during the game with an apparent knee injury. It appeared that Eaton’s left knee buckled while he was defending the Sabres’ Mike Grier.
- Two more penalties tonight on Evgeni Malkin. The first was another foolish tripping penalty, the second was pretty iffy, as he attempted to steal the puck while leaving the penalty box.
- Three blocked shots for McKee, Sergei Gonchar and Alex Goligoski.
- Brooks Orpik led the Pens with four hits.
- Malkin easily led the Pens with seven missed shots.
- Kunitz actually led the Pens with five shots on goal.
The Pens now head home to face the Devils at the Igloo.
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