Stubborn penalty-killing unit lifts Penguins
The Penguins have been maddeningly inconsistent over the past couple of weeks, but one aspect of their game remains unflappable.
Penalty killing has been a team strength from the day Dan Bylsma became coach, and nothing has changed this season. The Penguins rank second in the NHL with a 90.3 success rate on the penalty kill and have blanked opposing power plays in 18 of their 22 games.
"What's been so impressive to me is how the four guys on the ice always work together," said veteran center Richard Park, a longtime penalty killing specialist who has fit in nicely. "It's very clear that there is a plan in place, and everyone is always on the same page."
The Penguins have been especially impressive at home, killing 28 of 29 penalties for a 96.5 success rate. Washington scored the only power-play goal against the Penguins at Consol Energy Center this season, and that tally came with a 4-on-3 advantage because it took place in overtime.
Also, the Penguins have permitted only two power-play goals all season when goalie Marc-Andre Fleury starts.
Only New Jersey (93.8 percent) ranks higher than the Penguins, who led the league in penalty killing last season.
"The whole unit has been very good," Park said. "And when you've got goaltending like we get, that only makes it better."
Note: The Penguins held a 45-minute Thanksgiving practice. Only defenseman Kris Letang and left wing Chris Kunitz did not participate, but both are expected to play Friday night against the Ottawa Senators.