Penguins overcome speedy Oilers for close victory at Consol
Brooks Orpik knows the Penguins were not perfect Tuesday night.
They were pretty close to that, though, after Evgeni Malkin's power-play goal in the third period.
Malkin scored with about 12 minutes remaining in regulation, and then the Penguins held Edmonton to two shots to close out a 3-2 victory at Consol Energy Center.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 20 saves and will carry a 5-0 mark and 1.80 goals-against average into a showdown at Philadelphia on Thursday.
About Tuesday, though ...
“Our first and third periods were really good, but our second was kind of like those games in Florida and Tampa Bay,” Orpik said, referring to a two-game trip last weekend during which the Penguins surrendered 10 of their 15 goals allowed.
The Oilers outshot the Penguins, 15-9, in the second period.
They utilized pace — an element that helped Philadelphia and the New York Islanders rattle the Penguins in Round 1 each of the past two postseasons — to turn momentum.
However, the Oilers were held to seven shots combined in the first and final periods, and many Penguins players spoke after this victory of a left-wing lock tactic with which many clubs have skated to Stanley Cup success over the past two decades.
Orpik offered less about the lock — a deployment that keeps the Penguins left winger from going too deep in offensive zone — and more about the decisions made by forwards.
“It's discipline with the puck in the neutral zone,” Orpik said. “It's not trying to make little plays there.”
Malkin's goal was no little thing. He has scored in two of three games since opening the season without a goal in three consecutive contests.
This goal was of three upon which captain Sidney Crosby recorded an assist.
He finished this victory bloodied — a high stick from Edmonton captain Andrew Ference split his tongue but earned the power play on which Malkin scored — and with a point streak at six games.
Crosby equaled his best points streak start to a season. His personal best mark is 25 games, but he has now produced at least a point in 76 of 92 regular-season contests dating to the start of the 2010-11 campaign.
He also assisted on goals by his regular wingers, the second each for Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz.
Right winger Ales Hemsky and center Jordan Eberle scored for the Oilers, who are off to a rough start with one win in seven games.
Edmonton is trying to ride a foursome of fine forwards to a franchise turnaround.
Eberle is joined by center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, left winger Taylor Hall and right winger Nail Yakupov, the latter a healthy scratch in two previous contests.
“(Eberle's) probably the most dangerous of those guys,” said Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi, who routinely faced the Oilers the past four years playing with the Los Angeles Kings.
“He's kind of the same as Nugent-Hopkins, but Eberle plays with a little more pace.”
Orpik predicted big things — as in a shiny, silver chalice — for Edmonton in a couple of seasons.
He also suggested the Penguins stick with their performance from the first and third periods against Edmonton and not the second.
Oilers coach Dallas Eakins suggested the Penguins' way of playing was a pretty good standard.
“That vertical game — that's how we aspire to be,” Eakins said. “In the future, when our team gets good, that's how we want to play.”