Unlikely goal scorers pace Penguins
DENVER -- Evgeni Malkin scored his 38th goal of the season, but it was some unlikely teammates who did most of the heavy lifting in a 5-1 victory over the Avalanche on Saturday.
Arron Asham, Richard Park and Deryk Engelland -- whose combined goal total measures 25 fewer than Malkin's -- all scored to give the Penguins an easy road victory.
"We do have a very deep team," Asham said. "We have guys who can score on all four lines. We can't leave all the scoring up to Geno, Staalsy (Jordan Staal) and Nealer (James Neal)."
The Penguins (38-21-5, 81 points) finished their brief road trip with a 2-0 mark and return home Monday for a game against the Phoenix Coyotes.
"Felt like it was more than two games because we were out here so long," Penguins center Craig Adams said. "But it feels good to get out of here with two wins."
Colorado was credited with the game's first seven shots on net, but goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had little trouble keeping the game scoreless in the early going. He stopped 35 of 36 shots.
Asham then scored for the first time since Dec. 3, and the Penguins simply dominated the remainder of the contest.
"Felt good to get one," Asham joked. "Doesn't happen that often."
Although Asham blasted a shot past goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Adams did most of the work on the Penguins' first goal. Adams delivered a pass to Asham and then bolted toward the net, forcing the Colorado defense to collapse and freeing Asham to unleash the shot.
The Penguins required only 1:22 to strike again, and this goal came from an even more unlikely source.
Engelland skated untouched toward the Colorado net and executed a perfect redirection of Staal's pass.
"It was basically the same play as the first goal," Adams said. "Kick it out wide, then go to the net or take the shot. If you go wide in their zone, their defense tends to back down."
Engelland's goal was a classic example of the Penguins' defensemen being aggressive even if, as in Engelland's case, offense isn't the blue liner's strength.
His teammates were impressed with the skill Engelland exhibited on the play.
"We all had to check to see who it was," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "We thought it was Engo."
Malkin scored a power-play goal in the second period. He was knocked out of the top spot in the NHL scoring race about an hour earlier by Tampa Bay star Steven Stamkos, but Malkin matched him with 80 points when he banged in Neal's rebound.
Park then essentially put the game away when he exited the penalty box, found himself on a breakaway and calmly buried a shot between Giguere's legs.
"We knew they'd come out early with a lot of energy," Orpik said. "Getting those two goals in the first period was big."
The game turned nasty after the Penguins went ahead, 4-0.
A frustrated Giguere attacked Penguins left wing Matt Cooke in front of the Colorado net, which began a brief melee. Fleury skated to the Penguins' blue line during the confrontation, but he never engaged in the battle.
"I'm glad he stayed in his net," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
A nasty edge became evident early in the game.
Avalanche right wing Steve Downie, recently acquired from Tampa Bay, had words with Malkin early in the first period. Defenseman Paul Martin came to Malkin's aid, and Martin and Downie both received penalties.
"That's my favorite thing about Malkin," Colorado defenseman Shane O'Brien said before the game. "He never backs down from anyone."
Neither do his teammates, who find themselves with the second-most points in the Eastern Conference.