Crosby-less Penguins skate around Avalanche for a shootout victory
DENVER — Satisfaction is the Stanley Cup.
However, as regular seasons go, this one has proven quite satisfying for the Penguins. So did a 3-2 shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Sunday night.
It secured only the third 50-win season in franchise history and a 23rd road victory, which is one off a team record. Those marks were reached in the same contest that the Penguins became only the third NHL team in the past five seasons to hit 500 man-games lost to injury.
They are at 506 — and two of six Penguins not to miss a game because of injury played pivotal roles in this one. Center Brandon Sutter scored twice in the second period, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 39 saves and was perfect through three shootout rounds.
Captain Sidney Crosby missed his first game, with an upper-body injury. Also, his top-line left winger, Chris Kunitz, joined defenseman Brooks Orpik as an observer because of lower-body injuries. Defenseman Olli Maatta, a Calder Trophy (top rookie) candidate, did not play because of an upper-body injury.
“The injuries are ones that every one of the players has been playing with, and it wasn't prudent to play in back-to-back games, really,”coach Dan Bylsma said.
The Penguins lost 4-0 at Minnesota on Saturday night.
Crosby played just under 20 minutes in that contest. He has played fewer than 20 minutes in his past three contests. His season average is around 22 minutes, and it rates second among all forwards.
Playing in 82 games for the first time was an objective Crosby set in the offseason. He had missed 114 games, including the playoffs, during the past three seasons.
“Every player offers resistances, wants to play in every game, be in every game, so …” Bylsma said, while smiling, when declaring Crosby out against Colorado.
The Penguins (50-24-5, 105 points) played the Avalanche without their projected top three centers. Evgeni Malkin and Marcel Goc are out with foot injuries, and their status for Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs is undetermined.
Malkin, who is recovering from a hairline fracture, will have a re-evaluation with a physician in Pittsburgh on Monday, Bylsma said.
The Penguins believe Malkin could play sometime during Round 1, if not at the start. They do not expect Goc will be ready for the opening round.
If Crosby and Malkin are ready for the playoffs, Goc's absence would allow Brandon Sutter to reclaim his previous role as third-line center. He had scored a goal in only three of 41 previous games before notching his 12th and 13th markers Sunday in the second period.
He also hit a pipe on a chance to build a 3-1 lead in the third, when the Avalanche received goals from center Ryan O'Reilly and winger Patrick Bordeleau.
Winger Jussi Jokinen scored the lone shootout goal, and Fleury made sure it stood for what Sutter termed a “big character win.”
“We had more than a couple (top players) out,” Sutter said. “For us to come in and play the way we did is something we can build on for when the real games start.”
The playoffs open April 16.
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter@RobRossi_Trib.
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.
- Allegheny County sues hotel over unpaid taxes
- Steelers wrap lackluster preseason with loss to Panthers
- Thousand-pound alligator caught in Alabama sets record
- Experimental Ebola drug heals all monkeys in study
- Preseason valuable for Steelers’ offensive line
- ‘Victory’ for ARDC; Armstrong locks to open in 2015
- Penguins confident Pouliot will be healthy, ready for camp
- Jeannette traffic stop leads to drug charges
- NCAA refutes report of eased PSU sanctions
- Zimbabwe’s first lady enters politics amidst controversy
- DEP releases details of cases of drinking well contamination from drilling