Rookie Megna boosts Penguins in 3-1 victory over Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. — The Penguins' depth finally showed up Monday.
On a night when the Penguins looked stagnant at times, they received a spirited performance from Jayson Megna, who was playing in his second NHL game, in a 3-1 victory at Carolina.
“He was flying all night,” Penguins center Joe Vitale said. “I think he was nervous in his first game. My first game, I was so scared. Tonight, he played with confidence. And, he was a different player tonight.”
Megna was a difference-maker, too. He set up the Penguins' first goal for his first NHL point in the first period and later provided insurance with his first career NHL goal.
“I had a lot more confidence tonight,” Megna said. “I was feeling good out there.”
Megna was a presence from his first shift, when he busted through the Carolina defense and nearly beat goaltender Justin Peters.
Later in the period, the 23-year-old from Illinois notched his first NHL point when the rebound of his shot was knocked in by left wing Tanner Glass.
Megna played 9:54 and fired four shots on net, a total that was surpassed only by Chris Kunitz's six.
“He was effective on the ice almost every shift,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “He made some plays. He really earned the opportunity to get more ice time, which he got. He really was a factor. He could have had a couple of more (goals).”
With the exception of Sidney Crosby, who earned two more assists — one of them a beauty on Kunitz's goal late in the second period — to push his league-leading point total to 20, it was a quiet night for the Penguins' stars. The power play continued to struggle, and Evgeni Malkin was scoreless.
Megna provided just the spark the Penguins needed. They entered the game with an 0-2 record when Crosby is held pointless, a sign that scoring depth has been an issue.
It wasn't in the third period, when Megna notched his first career goal.
Crosby snatched a rebound of a Brooks Orpik shot and fired a puck toward Peters. The puck caromed off Megna's shin pad and past the goaltender.
Orpik assisted on all three goals.
“I told (Megna) that's usually not how the first one goes in,” Crosby said. “But you take it.”
Crosby will take Megna's overall performance, too.
“He was great at creating things,” Crosby said. “He had a lot of good chances. He played a good hockey game tonight. It's nice to see him get rewarded.”
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 20 of 21 shots to improve his record to 8-2. He was forced to make a number of saves midway through the second period when the game was tied and the Penguins were looking lifeless.
Megna took care of that problem.
“Sometimes I notice other players during the game,” Fleury said. “And I noticed him.”
The Penguins (8-4-0, 16 points), who avoided a four-game losing streak, lead Carolina by five points in the Metropolitan Division and will take on Boston, one of the league's deepest teams, on Wednesday at Consol Energy Center.
Luckily for the Penguins, they may have found a little depth of their own.
“Jayson played with swagger tonight,” Vitale said. “He's a great hockey player. He showed it.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.