Penguins defensemen have game to remember against Rangers
It’s not unusual to see Kris Letang score goals. In fact, in the past week, he’s flown past Paul Coffey into the top spot of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ all-time list of goals scored by a defenseman.
What’s odd is for him to have so much company.
In a 6-5 victory over the New York Rangers on Sunday afternoon, the Penguins got four goals from defensemen in one game for the first time in almost 30 years.
Letang, who scored twice, was joined by Marcus Pettersson and Brian Dumoulin in the goal column.
According to Penguins historian Bob Grove, it was the first time the Penguins got four goals from defensemen since a 7-3 win over Washington on Dec. 26, 1990. On that night, Coffey scored two and Peter Taglianetti and Zarley Zalapski had one apiece.
“It’s huge,” Letang said. “That’s how we want to play. We want guys to join the rush and support the attack. We rely a lot on our mobility out there and guys that can help our forwards offensively. To see them getting rewarded is nice.”
Letang’s second goal was the most important. It broke a 3-3 tie in the third period to give the Penguins the lead for good. His first goal, banked in off the skate of Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk late in the first period, gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
Pettersson and Dumoulin scored in a three-minute stretch in the middle of the second period.
Pettersson converted on a one-timer from the right circle off a cross-ice pass from Nick Bjugstad on the power play. On his next shift, Pettersson won a race for a loose puck below the goal line, which led to Sidney Crosby setting up Dumoulin coming off the bench for a shot and a goal from the high slot.
Coach Mike Sullivan said defenseman scoring is an important part of creating offense.
“The way teams defend in this league, when the puck’s low in the zone underneath the hash marks, most teams collapse coverage,” he said. “In order to try to spread them out or find some ice to play on, a lot of times, it’s in the top half of the zone.
“If you can go low to high and look for an opportunity to get the puck to the net or look for an off-net deflection, it’s a predominant way to generate or manufacture offense the way the game’s being played today. We’d like to see our defensemen shoot the puck, get more pucks to the net.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .