Bennett, Martin score in Penguins' win
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Sidney Crosby might have found his right wing Thursday.
Beau Bennett, in his fourth game after missing four months with a broken wrist, scored a goal and consistently created offense with linemates Crosby and Chris Kunitz in a 4-2 victory.
Defenseman Paul Martin, returning from a broken hand, scored the game-winner in the third period.
The Penguins clinched the Metropolitan Division on Thursday but are far more interested in finding the proper formula for playoff success.
Is Bennett playing on the top line part of that formula?
“Maybe,” Crosby said. “(Our line) was good. I thought we created some really good chances, had some real good opportunities. We weren't able to get some shots away on a few of those. But that takes time. If we end up playing together, we'll try to create more things.”
The Penguins don't have much time to decipher their configurations entering the playoffs, but Bennett is part of their plan.
He has been a strong presence since returning from the broken wrist, scoring twice and using his playmaking skills to create a significant amount of offense.
“Beau's just so skilled,” forward Jussi Jokinen said. “He's really good right now.”
Bennett struggled early in the game, forcing a couple of passes to Crosby that weren't available. After Bennett's second shift, coach Dan Bylsma had a chat with him on the bench.
“Once that happened,” Bennett said, “I settled down and felt good the rest of the game.”
Bennett gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead in the first period at the tail end of a power play, when he buried a one-timer off a pass from Crosby.
Crosby, Kunitz and Bennett found themselves with numerous opportunities on the rush. The goals didn't come, but they were so close that Bennett and Crosby sound interested in working together again.
“We had a lot more chances than what we finished,” Bennett said. “It was just a matter of knowing where I've got to be. Sid and Kuni have such great chemistry, so it's really up to me to be where they aren't. That'll be a work in progress.”
Crosby and Bennett were placed on the same line in November for two games before Bennett's injury.
“Beau has been playing really well,” Crosby said. “He continued to do what he needs to do tonight.”
The game had the feel of a possible playoff dress rehearsal for the Penguins.
Should Bennett remain on the top line, right wing Lee Stempniak would play on the third line with center Brandon Sutter as he did against Winnipeg.
The Penguins acquired Stempniak in March knowing he could help the first or third lines, and he set up Craig Adams' goal.
The return of Martin didn't hurt the Penguins, either. He played in his regular spot with defenseman Brooks Orpik, who said Martin “didn't miss a beat” in his return. Martin's game-winner came off a feed from James Neal on the power play.
“I wanted that one,” Martin said. “I did. I've missed time twice this year. That's enough.”
The Penguins were pleased with their defensive work, as they held Winnipeg to three shots in the third period. Winnipeg's 15 shots were the second fewest the Penguins have allowed all season.
Right wing Brian Gibbons also scored, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury earned his 37th win.
Bennett might have earned more time on the top unit. Bylsma said Bennett showed his “hockey sense” while on Crosby's line.
“It's not for me to say if he should be on that line,” Orpik said. “But he is talented. He's got a really high ceiling.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fleury’s career-best 6th shutout lifts Penguins over Avalanche in overtime
- Students reference positive ‘Frozen’-themed lessons
- Elizabeth Forward marks 35th year of senior holiday breakfast
- McKeesport Area fourth-grader thrilled with gift from White Oak Lions Club
- Steelers must be creative in providing snaps for linebackers
- Rossi: Brawl for ADs between Pitt and WVU
- Veteran tight end Miller’s blocking skill crucial to success to Steelers running game
- Samples show Plumcreek gas leaks aren’t methane
- Beacons track shoppers’ smartphones amid retailers’ aisles
- Developer reveals Buncher plans for 400 Strip District apartments, townhomes
- Time is of essence for Pitt in finding football coach, athletic director