I don't often disagree with Sidney Crosby, but today I'll make an exception. After the dramatic 3-2 victory over the Islanders, Crosby emphasized the importance of winning the game, “The main thing is to get the two points and try to build off that.” Herm Edwards would agree. I don't.
The Penguins have an eight-point buffer between them and the final playoff spot and winning the division doesn't matter. At this time of the year, it comes down to playing well. The Penguins had given up 38 shots on goal in each of their last two games. Putrid. That would qualify as not playing well. Saturday the Penguins needed to get back to basics and play the right way. They did just that.
The Pens controlled 5-on-5 play by generating 60.5 percent of the chances. Pittsburgh out-shot New York 50 to 27. The defensemen didn't take as many chances as we've seen of late, and the Penguins largely managed the puck much better. The Penguins were charted with 7 giveaways as opposed to the 12 and 14 they'd been credited with the previous two games.
If the Penguins had lost, oh well. Playing smart structured hockey will lead to more wins in the long haul. The Penguins just have to #TrustTheProcess.
--After getting pulled in two of his previous four starts and giving up five goals to the Bruins, Tristan Jarry could have crumbled on Saturday after his inauspicious start. He didn't. That tells me a lot about the mental makeup of this young man.
--Chad Ruwedhal played 13:55. He tallied six shot attempts, 3 hits, and a blocked shot. His CF % on the season is 53 percent. Matt Hunwick's is 44 percent. Hunwick is more talented but it's become clear that Ruwedhal plays within himself and the structure. That's all you need when the forwards are as good as they are.
--Conner Sheary played on the Penguins 4th line. He looked okay. I don't LOVE the fit there, but with ZAR out of the lineup, Sheary needs to play. If Sheary rediscovers his game, I think the best fit would be alongside Crosby and Guentzel.
--Derick Brassard scored his first goal as a Penguin. It couldn't have come at a better time. It came from a slick feed from Phil Kessel. Can't wait to watch those two grow together.
--The Penguins lived by an old Mike Sullivan mantra in this one. They "just played." They overcame two fluky goals and were able to score after killing off a PP in overtime. They didn't allow themselves to get frustrated.