-The Ducks have been struggling as of late. Their two franchise forwards - Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry - have struggled in particular. Virtually joined at the hip since each joined the Ducks nearly a decade ago, they have long been linemates. That didn't matter to coach Bruce Boudreau who broke them up last night. The change led the Ducks to score six goals against the Flames. Getzlaf, who had a four-game pointless streak, had a goal and an assist. Perry recorded an assist.
-That brings us to the Penguins. With so many struggles offensively, the Penguins have been slow to make line changes. The top three lines have been written in stone virtually. Mike Johnston suggested this morning that may change. According to the team's Web site the lines and defensive pairs will look like this:
David Perron - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Chris Kunitz - Evgeni Malkin - Blake Comeau
Nick Spaling - Brandon Sutter - Beau Bennett
Zach Sill - Maxim Lapierre - Craig Adams
Paul Martin - Kris Letang
Derrick Pouliot - Robert Bortuzzo
Rob Scuderi - Simon Despres
-Something needs to be done to spark Crosby and how can anyone justify keeping him and Kunitz together for the time being? Ditto Hornqvist. He has not displayed nearly the same level of chemistry with Malkin as he has Crosby. Malkin's MVP season in 2011-12 came with Kunitz primarily on his left wing. Perhaps a reunion could benefit Kunitz?
-We're not sure we understand the potential scratching of Downie. Against a physical team like the Blues, wouldn't he be a good player to have in place?
-Sidney Crosby has never scored against the Blues. Never. In eight games, zero goals. The only other team which has blanked him are the Sharks. True, the Penguins don't play those Western Conference teams all that much, but the Blues have historically - under coach Ken Hitchcock at least - have done a pretty good job of putting David Backes and/or Alex Pietrangelo up against him. Don't expect that to change.
-Thomas Greiss will start. That's a bit of a surprise. With the Penguins playing games on back to back days, Greiss was bound to get one start. We just assumed it would be against the Panthers, a lesser opponent than the Blues.
-The Penguins' starters are Beau Bennett, Zach Sill, Brandon Sutter, Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Thomas Greiss.
-Their scratches are Steve Downie and Christian Ehrhoff.
-The Blues' starters are Dmitrj Jaskin, Chris Porter, Paul Stastny, Ian Cole, Barrett Jackman and Brian Elliott.
-Their scratches are Chris Butler, Joakim Lindstrom and Steve Ott.
-Ott is scratched after his wife gave birth this morning. So the Penguins will avoid the guaranteed-goal-in-the-first-game-after-having-a-kid from Ott.
19:39: A wrister by Cole from the right point is blocked by Martin.
19:22: Bennett uses Jackman as a screen and rips a wrister from above the right circle. Elliott eats it up.
19:10: After an offensive zone turnover by Perron, a wrister by Alex Steen in the right circle is blocked by Scuderi.
18:28: Kunitz pounds a slapper from the right point. Jaden Schwartz blocks it.
18:13: Schwartz glides up the left wing and flings a wrister to the far side. Greiss snags it with a fancy glove save.
17:48: After Comeau forces a turnover on the Blues' left half wall, Kunitz snaps off a wrister from the left circle which goes wide on the near side. Malkin recovers the rebound behind the net and distributes it to Kunitz in the left circle. Kunitz snaps off another wrister which Elliot stops. Malkin is denied on the rebound as well.
16:28: Off a feed by Crosby, Hornqvist shuffles a backhander from the slot. Elliott eats it up.
15:38: Off a stretch pass by Carl Gunnarsson, Steen gets behind the Penguins defense and attacks on a mini breakaway. As Scuderi dives to poke the puck away, Steen lifts a wrister wide to the left of the cage. Scuderi may have gotten away with a trip.
15:22: Despres pumps a one-timer from the left point wide to the far side.
14:44: Vladimir Tarasenko has a wrister from the slot blocked by Malkin. Jori Lehtera recovers the rebound on the right wing wall and deals a pass to Pietrangelo in the left circle. He rips a wrister which Greiss eats up.
13:41: Spaling is taking a shift with Lapierre and Adams.
12:35: A wrister by Patrik Berglund from the right wing is turned away by Greiss.
10:54: Crosby, on a line with Comeau and Kunitz, pushes play up the left wing. As Bortuzzo drives the slot, Crosby pulls up on the left wing and deals a pass to Comeau in the high slot. Comeau booms a slapper which Elliott denies.
10:23: A wrister by Tarasenko off the left wing is blocked by Martin's stick.
10:09: Sutter chips and chases a puck up the right wing, gets a step on Jackman and rips a wrister on net. Elliott eats it up.
9:49: Off a little feed by Malkin from behind the cage, Kunitz tries to jam one in from the right of the cage. Elliott denies it.
9:43: Malkin deals a pass from behind the cage to Letang at the right point. Letang wires a slapper wide on the near side.
8:58: Bortuzzo muscles a puck up the left wing and chips a little wrister which hops over the cage.
8:28: From the left half wall, Hornqvist tries to hit Pouliot with a pass as he streaks towards the net. The pass fails to connect and Elliott kicks it away.
7:48: Malkin races up the right wing and leaves a drop pass for Comeau at the top of the left circle. Comeau rips a wrister which a backchcecking T.J. Oshie breaks up.
6:34: Schwartz flings a wrister from a bad angle on the left wing. Greiss kicks it out.
5:17: Crosby drives down the slot and leaves a drop pass above the left circle. Kunitz rips a wrister just wide of the cage.
4:36: A wrister by Comeau from the slot deflects out of play.
4:07: Jaskin races up the left wing and flings a backhander from the right wing. Greiss fights it off.
4:01: Jaskin tries to jam in a forehand wraparound from the right of the cage. Pouliot clears the rebound down ice and ices it.
3:29: The Penguins strike first. After Steen beats Malkin in the left circle, Petteri Lindbohm tries to play the puck up ice from his own left corner but Comeau blocks his clearing attempts. Comeau settles the puck and backhands it through Elliott's five hole. That's a nice, ugly garbage goal in tight. Officially, it came from 14 feet out. It's unassisted. After his turnover which led to the game-winning goal by the Blue Jackets Thursday, Comeau could use that. Penguins 1-0.
3:04: Pietrangelo whacks a slapper from the right point which is blocked.
2:59: Crosby pushes the puck up the left wing and whacks it on net. Elliott eats it up.
2:20: Battling Adams for a puck on the left half wall, Barrett Jackman ends up clipping his teammate Marcel Goc in the face. Goc takes a tumble with a little bit of blood on his lip. He heads off for repairs.
0:32: Jay Bouwmeester whacks a slapper from the left point wide on the near side.
0:02: Crosby sneaks in off the right wing and lifts a forehand shot on net which hits off the far post. He collides with Elliott and play is halted. Crosby gives Elliott a tap on the leg as if to make sure he's okay.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 1, Blues 0.
-We're not sure if was a matter of the Penguins playing that well or the Blues looking a little gassed from playing last night, but that was the Penguins' best period in a week or so.
-The new lines seem to have sparked a few things. Kunitz and Malkin have combined for a few shots. Crosby seems to have a bit of an extra jump.
-The Blues have been somewhat slow starters in the first period in terms of goals and shots this season. So... buckle up for the second period.
-Greiss looked pretty solid. That said he was hardly tested.
-The Penguins have a 10-9 lead in shots.
-The Penguins have a 22-10 lead in attempted shots.
-Kunitz, Comeau, Hornqvist, Schwartz and Jaskin each lead the game with two shots.
-Pietrangelo leads the game with 8:28 of ice time.
-Martin leads the game with 8:01 of ice time.
-The Blues have a 10-8 lead in faceoffs (56 percent).
-Statsny is 4 for 7 (57 percent).
-Sutter is 3 for 6 (50 percent).
-Martin leads the game with three blocked shots.
19:42: A slapper by Jackman from the left point is blocked by Pouliot who
19:24: Bennett saunters up the left wing, glides to the slot and rips a wrister from the slot wide of the cage.
19:16: After Bennett forces a turnover by Steen in St. Louis' left circle, Sutter has a wrister from the right circle blocked by a sprawling Jackman.
19:01: Hornqvist snaps off a pass off the right half wall to Perron darting towards the net off the left wing. Perron tries to lift a forehand shot but a spawling Elliott denies it with his left skate.
18:44: A wrister by Perron in the slot is blocked by Pietrangelo.
17:56: A wrister by Lindbohm from the right point is blocked wide of the cage.
17:52: Tarsenko chops a one-timer from the left circle wide to the far side.
17:11: BIG save. Goc moves up the left wing on a partial two-on-one against Martin. Goc deals a cross-ice pass to the dangerous Tarasenko in the right circle. Tarasenko drops the hammer on a one-timer. Greiss reads the play, moves ot his left and steals the puck with his glove hand. Wow.
16:56: The Blues get the game's first power play. Pouliot trips up in the Penguins' right wing corner. Sutter, Spaling, Scuderi and Letang take the ice.
16:30: Short-handed, Sutter pushes a puck up the right wing on a two-on-one with Spaling against Steen. Sutter forces a pass which Steen breaks up. The Blues are using five forwards.
15:23: Taking a pass in the left circle, Pietrangelo has an acre of ice to work with and lifts a wrister wide of the cage as Bortuzzo pressures.
14:46: As the Pouliot minor expires, Lapierre steals a puck and chips it up ice. He tries to recover it in the St. Louis zone but is held up by Tarasenko. Elliott plays the puck away then denies Adams ont eh rebound chance. Play is halted. Tarasenko is called for holding. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Hornqvist and Letang take the ice.
14:04: Malkin lifts a wrister from the center point. It hits a body in front.
13:53: Malkin takes a pass from Crosby at center point and pounds a slapper. Elliott deflects it out play.
13:34: The band is back together. Letang drives a puck deep on the left wing and pass to Crosby in the right wing corner. Crosby deals a pass to Hornqvist in the high slot. Hornqvist rips a wrister by the glove hand of Elliott. That looked so simple. It breaks an 0 for 20 skid on the power play by the Penguins. Crosby and Letang get assists. Penguins 2-0.
11:41: Pietrangelo rips a wrister from the right circle. Greiss eats it up.
11:25: A slapper by Pietrangelo from the left half wall is deflected out of play by Perron.
9:41: Lapierre tries to toe drag around a sliding Cole in the Blues' right circle but loses it on Cole's stick.
8:58: A wrister by Oshie from the left point is turned away by Greiss.
8:39: Martin chops a slapper from the left point. Elliott snags it.
8:33: Of the ensuing faceoff, Martin chops a one-timer from the right point. Schwartz blocks it.
8:13: Bennett rips a wrister from the left half wall. It hits a body in front. Spaling and Sutter dig for the rebound but Elliott smothers it.
7:59: After Tarasenko dances the puck into the offensive zone on the right wing, Gunnarsson chops a slapper which Greiss fights off.
7:08: A wrister by Bortuzzo from the right point is blocked.
5:39: Off a feed by Crosby, Scuderi booms a slapper from the right point wide on the near side.
5:12: A wrister by Lapierre off the left wing is blocked.
4:22: Another ugly goal. Despres pounds a slapper from the center point. Comeau is positioned on the inner edge of the left circle and re-directs a dribbler by the right skate of Elliott on the far side. Kunitz drove the net and appeared to distract Elliot a tad. Comeau gets credit for the goal. It's another clunky, ugly goal. Despres and Malkin each get assist. Penguins 3-0.
2:59: Malkin drives up the right wing, goes behind the net, emerges in the left circle and backhands it on net.
2:18: Bennett rips a wrister from the left circle. Elliott eats it up.
1:32: A wrister from the left wing by Ryan Reaves is blocked by Spaling.
0:50: Perron hustles up the left wing and lifts a wrister which Elliott fights off.
0:09: Despres pounds a slapper from the right point which is blocked.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 3, Blues 0.
-Things leveled off a bit to start that period. The Blues started the period with a little more energy but they seemed to tucker out as the period went on. The Penguins can't get lured into taking the third period casually, but the Blues look like toast.
-Talk about a great response by Comeau after his turnover which cost them the game Thursday.
-The Penguins' power play goal looked so easy. It makes you wonder why the power play looked so inept over the past nine games.
-Even the third line has had a few strong offensive chances.
-The Penguins have a 20-14 lead in shots on net.
-The Penguins lead in attempted shots, 41-31.
-Bennett, Comeau, Hornqvist and Jaskin each lead the game with three shots on net.
-Letang leads the game with 17:22 of ice time.
-Pietrangelo leads the game with 17:03 of ice time.
-The Penguins have a 22-19 lead in faceoffs (54 percent).
-Stastny was 8 for 12 (67 percent).
-Sutter is 7 for 12 (58 percent).
-Martin, Pietrangelo and Schwartz each lead the game with three blocked shots.
18:50: After Perron steals a puck on the right wing wall, Crosby lifts a wrister from the left circle. Elliott eats it up.
18:31: Pietrangelo rips a wrister from the high slot. Greiss smothers it. Tarasenko and Hornqvist get into a shoving match aftwards. Nothing comes of it.
17:19: Off an offensive zone turnover by the Penguins, Steen chops a slapper form the left circle which Greiss kicks out.
15:39: The Penguins get another power play as Cole shoves Hornqvist from behind into the St. Louis end board while battling for the puck. That's a boarding minor. Hornqvist, Crosby, Kunitz, Malkin and Letang take the ice.
15:35: A wrister by Malkin from the left circle. Elliott snags it despite traffic.
15:16: The Penguins strike on the power play again. Or do they? With Malkin at center point. Malkin chops a shot/pass to Crosby at the left circle. Crosby is low in the left circle and re-directs it on net. The puck sneaks by the near post and sort of gets embedded into Elliott's right pad. Elliott's leg looks like it's behind the goal line but there's nothing conclusive. Crosby raises is arms to celebrate. Officials don't really rule anything. A very lengthy video review take place. Officials confirm the call on the ice and rule no goal.
14:29: Crosby whacks a slapper from the right circle. It hits Elliott high as he eats it up. Elliot appears to be shaken up a bit after that shot but he remains in the game.
14:21: Backes pushes the puck up the left wing short-handed and is taken out on a fantastic hip check by Letang. You don't' see Backes go down like that to often.
13:57: As the Cole minor expires, A wrister by Letang from the center point hits a body in front.
13:50: Sutter settles a puck in the left circle and whistles it wide.
13:47: Comeau pumps a one-timer from the center point wide of the cage.
13:34: Pietrangelo goes deep on the left wing and is separated from the puck on a check by Letang in the corner.
13:29: A slapper by Lindbohm from the right point is wide of the cage. Play is halted as Pietrangelo tries to fight Letang. Officials step it before it starts. You don't see two all-star defensemen going at it like that too often. Pietrangelo gets a crosschecking minor while Letang gets a high sticking minor. We'll see four-on-for play for two minutes.
13:09: A one-timer by Gunnarsson from the right point is kicked out by Elliott.
11:54: After a defensive zone turnover by Malkin, Tarasenko rips a wrister wide of the cage.
11:38: Backes challenges Malkin with a few hits in the left wing corner. He looked like he threw an elbow but missed. Bortuzzo goes after Bacheks and sort of challenges him to a fight. Linesmen break them up immediately. Both players get roughing minors and 10-minute misconducts.
11:29: Play returns to five on five.
11:05: Steen rips a wrister from in tight but is denied by Greiss.
10:44: In deep on the left wing, Bouwmeester lifts a wrister. Greiss eats it up.
10:10: Tarasenko tries to race the puck up the left wing in the neutral zone and is hip checked by Hornqvist. He loses the puck as he takes a tumble. Tarasenko takes exception and gives Hornqvist a shot to the face.
9:47: On a delayed penalty, Crosby lifts a wrister from the right circle.
9:39: Play is halted. Tarasenko is called for cross checking. Malkin, Crosby, Hornqvist, Letang and Kunitz take the ice.
9:28: Short-handed, Goc gets a chance in the left circle and rips a wrister which Fleury fights off.
8:57: In deep, Letang tries to sweep a forehand shot from the left of the cage. Elliott fights it off.
8:02: Malkin chops a one-timer from above the left circle. Schwartz blocks it and Malkin's stick breaks.
7:39: Game. Set. Match. Just as the Tarasenko minor expires, Sutter takes a feed from Comeau, moves in off from above the left circle and lifts a backhander which flaots by the glove hand of Elliott. Elliott should have made that save. That's the last nail in the coffin. Comeau and Perron get assists. Officially, it's not a power-play goal. Virtually, it is. Penguins 4-0.
6:11: Schwartz has a chance in tight to the right of the cage. Greiss fights it off.
5:27: The Blues finally score. Winning a puck battle int he left wing corner of the Penguins' zone, Lehtera deals a pass to Jaskin in the slot. Jaskin appears to fan on the shot a bit and it clunks through Greiss' five hole. Lehtera and Tarasenko get assists. Penguins 4-1.
-That easily is the best goal song in the NHL.
4:40: Crosby air mails a slapper from the neutral zone. Elliott eats it up.
2:37: The Blues nearly get a second goal. Steen walks in off the left wing and has a clean look at the cage. Instead of shooting, he forces a pass to Schwartz which Schwartz misses.
1:22: Not so fast. Above the left circle, Jackman slides a pass to Cole in the right circle. Cole pounds a one-timer by the blocker of Greiss on the far side. What a shot. Jaskin had a nice screen. Jackman and Tarasenko get assists. The Penguins call a time-out to get organized. Penguins 4-2.
0:50: Elliott is pulled for an extra attacker.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 4, Blues 2.
-Where was this? The Penguins could barely get clean shot - never mind goals - on net over the past week-plus. Tonight, they tore one of the NHL's best defensive teams for four goals, including a few pretty ones.
-Not to be a killjoy, but this was not the Blues at their best. They looked to be at halfspeed. Maybe they were gassed by playing the Bruins last night, but they did not look all that sharp. We've watched a fair amount of their games this season and they rarely look this flat.
-But give the Penguins credit for jumping on a opponent playing inferior. They didn't let up most of the night. They won most of the puck battles in this game. They got to the loose puck first more often than not. They had a lot more jump in their game than St. Louis and earned this.
-The line changes appeared to have their desired effect. The second line appeared to benefit more than the first line. Chris Kunitz had one of his best games in several weeks while Blake Comeau rebounded in a big way after his terrible error Thursday.
-Patric Hornqvist had maybe his best game since returning to the lineup from his foot injury. He scored the Penguins' second goal on a power play with a nice shot and was a real pain in the but for the Blues and really got under their skin by simply being physical. His presence seemed to open things up for Sidney Crosby a bit.
-The power play came back from the dead in a big way. It only went 1 for 3 but in essence, it went 3 for 3. Crosby had a would-be goal called back on a video review and Brandon Sutter's goal was scored just as a penalty to Vladimir Tarasenko expired.
-Malkin being used at center point on the power play really seemed to breath some life into this group.
-Thomas Greiss had a big rebound as well. He needed that after a few shaky games. The Blues didn't really threaten him much, but he was pretty sharp most of the game.
-The third line - in various forms - even got in on the act with a few offensive chances.
-Kris Letang was once again, reliable, steady and dominant. He's playing so well right now.
-Again, we don't know if this was a great effort by the Blues. David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Alexander Steen, Alex Pietrangelo and Brian Elliott are all usually a lot sharper than this.
-When Dmitrij Jaskin is you're best player, that's not a good thing.
-The Penguins had a 29-23 advantage in shots on net.
-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 55-46.
-Letang led the game with 29:00 of ice time.
Letang's ice time in the past five games has been ... ample:
-That's why they really need Christian Ehrhoff. Letang's legs might fall off by the postseason rolls around with all that ice time.
-Jay Bouwmeester led the Blues with 25:23.
-Paul Martin led the game with five blocked shots.
-Jaden Schwartz led the Blues with four blocked shots.
-Crosby has yet to score a goal against the Blues in his career.
-Letang (277 points) moved past Dan Quinn (276) for 25th place on the franchise's career scoring list.