The Pens gained a lead for the first time this season in the 2nd period when Evgeni Malkin scored his first goal. Shortly thereafter, rookie Daniel Sprong scored his first NHL goal to push the Pens lead to two.
Here’s that Sprong goal:
Regardless of whether he sticks with the team this season or is sent back to juniors after these first nine games, he’s shown himself to a big part of the Pens future.
You will always remember your first NHL goal, but it's nice to have a little memento too. pic.twitter.com/9CT7nMf98r
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 16, 2015
Marc-Andre Fleury was spectacular in the 3rd, earning his 39th career shutout and the Pens found themselves with their first win of the season.
Points of Emphasis:
I’ve previously written about the team needing to put more rubber on the net in an effort to shoot their way out of this early season scoring slump. Last night’s game started well for the Pens in the shot department.
Penguins have an 8-3 edge in shots with 8:11 left in the opening period.
— Dave Molinari (@MolinariPGH) October 15, 2015
And after two periods:
— Bob Pompeani (@KDPomp) October 16, 2015
They finished with 36 total, dwarfing Ottawa’s 22 shots. While things are looking up from a team perspective, there is one player in particular who needs to start shooting the puck more:
Sidney Crosby held without a point in four straight games for just the third time in his NHL career.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 16, 2015
Eric Fehr, who the Pens signed as a free agent this past offseason, has been on the shelf after having elbow surgery this past summer. While he skated with his new team for the first time at practice, he still won’t appear in the lineup anytime soon. Pascal Dupuis, who missed most of the last two seasons with knee injuries and blood clots, has been out since the preseason after sustaining a “lower body injury,” supposedly unrelated to his previous injuries.
Last night, Beau Bennett missed the game due to an injury that was just recently revealed.
That’s THREE bottom six players out of the lineup; basically what amounts to the team’s 3rd line. While the replacements from Wilkes-Barre are full of energy, guys like Bryan Rust and Bobby Farnham are simply not Dupuis or Bennett talent-wise. With how much this team has suffered in recent memory, it’s a shame to once again see them unable to play all the cards in their deck.
Players get injured and all teams deal with injuries; so once again, the Pens must limp onward.
Consol “Lack of” Energy Center:
It has been a long-running joke among the media/blogosphere that the CEC has crowds with lackluster energy. Even former backup goalie Thomas Greiss took a recent jab at crowd enthusiasm. While there may not be a simple solution to the crowd sound levels during games, there is a tangible reason why the arena is half empty for the drop of the puck.
Whether it’s a matter of the Pens streamlining their security process, less intrusive construction in the area or lazy fans needing to stagger over from their pregame bar stools sooner, something must be done to improve the fan experience. If it wasn’t such a hassle – and sometimes a struggle – for fans to get to their seats on time, perhaps they might not rush to leave before the end of the game to “beat traffic.”
Malkin’s first goal of the season:
Sprong Wakes Up
woo wooo wooooooo pic.twitter.com/LtrRfm52YR
— Rich Miller (@atrichmiller) October 16, 2015
As I’ve written here before, there is an online campaign to have the Pens change their goal song to Andrew W.K.’s “Party Hard.” While the song did play at the arena last night, it was not in the context desired:
— nicholas. (@psamp) October 16, 2015
Season Opening Video:
The last game was the Pens home opener, and they debuted a new pregame video. If you missed it or want to enjoy it again, here it is:
Lee is a contributor here at The Hockey Writers as well as at Pens Initiative. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, he worked an internship at VH1 Radio in NYC and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Penn State – New Kensington campus student newspaper, The Nittany Pride. You can visit Lee’s website here: leecjsobotka.com.