Game Grades: Game 15 @ Columbus
Friday night, the Penguins hosted Columbus in a game that was closer than the score reflected. It was tight-checking, and Columbus brought a lot of energy and pressure throughout the evening. A day later, Columbus would host the Pens as they attempted to get a split of the two game mini series and redeem themselves. Here’s how the game played out.
EVEN-STRENGTH OFFENSE: A
They were strong all evening in terms of puck possession. They got a couple goals, even if one was an own goal courtesy of Blake Comeau and another was an empty-netter. But keeping the Jackets hemmed in their own zone kept them from really getting anything going.
EVEN-STRENGTH DEFENSE: A
The defense was smothering tonight. Holding an NHL team to under 20 shots (19 shots to be exact) is a feat, especially when playing last night against the same team which put up 39 shots. They kept the Jackets on the perimeter all evening. The Jackets only had a handful of quality chances. The Pens were dominant all night.
POWER PLAY: B
They didn’t cash in on any of their three chances. But they had good puck movement and several good chances. They’ve improved this element of their game considerably.
PENALTY KILL: A
They only had two kills, but they were considerably more in command than in the prior game. Columbus had a tough time setting up and really taking advantage of their opportunities. The Pens outworked them tonight.
Jeff Zatkoff only had to face 19 shots, but he stopped every one of them. A few of the saves were on tough shots, particularly in the 3rd. But Zatkoff really looked in control the whole game and made no mistakes. Nice to see him get his first NHL win – and a shutout was definite icing on that cake.
FINAL GRADE: A
What other grade can you give for a 3-0 win where they only allow 19 shots? It was as dominant an effort as that first game of the year against New Jersey.
AND FOR THE REST…
CHRIS KUNITZ: A
He’s got a three-game goal-scoring streak. His goal tonight wasn’t conventional, but it was on a nice play and he got rewarded with a goal rather than an assist on a Crosby attempt. He continues to play smart and makes the right play nearly every time.
DEREK ENGELLAND: A
Have to give him credit, he’s doing whatever he has to in order to stay in the lineup. And with a shot like that, he’s helping make a case for himself for sure. He’s working hard and has looked good upfront as a fourth-liner.
PASCAL DUPUIS: B
His effort was outstanding tonight, but he just couldn’t get one in. He’s going to start finding the back of the net soon – his effort has been great.
THE MALKIN-JOKINEN-MEGNA LINE: A
On the whole, I thought they were the best line throughout the evening. They had a ton of chances and were really the line that set the tone for the puck possession game. You can just see that Geno is on the verge of breaking out. It’s just a matter of time.
THE BLUE JACKETS ROSTER: E
Aside from Curtis McElhinney, the Jackets were flat the entire night. They had a few chances, but for the vast majority of the game, they didn’t get anything done. Pittsburgh played them hard, but they didn’t help their cause at any time.
Brooks ran over Artem Anisimov at the Columbus blue line.
He plastered RJ Umberger – easily the biggest hit of the night. Let me know if you like that name, too.