-For a game with 13 former first-round picks on the ice, including quite a few No. one, two and three overall picks, there' weren't a tone offensive fireworks. Sure, there were lots and lots of shots but only one goal. That was scored by Blake Comeau and gave the Penguins a 1-0 win against the Avalanche tonight.
-In essence, this game came down to the one first overall pick in this game who doesn't have much to do with his team's offense and as well as a former No. 49 overall pick. This was a staring contest between Marc-Andre Fleury and Calvin Pickard.
-Each goaltender was fantastic. One could argue Pickard was even better given that he saw 48 shots. Either way, the Penguins got another dazzling performance from their franchise goaltender who recorded his league-leading sixth shutout of the season.
-Christian Ehrhoff left the game after the first period due to an undisclosed injury. Head coach Mike Johnston said he would be evaluated in the morning.
-Comeau scored his 11th goal of the season and his third game-winning goal of the season. What a find this guy has been. He scored 24 goals with the Islanders in 2010-11 but that seemed like a lifetime ago. After bouncing around with the Flames and Blue Jackets, he seemed like he was destined to be a ho-hum bottom six forward when the Penguins signed him this past summer. With so many injuries/illnesses up front, Comeau has stepped in and replaced a lot of offense. Yes, playing with Evgeni Malkin is a big help but he's not just a passenger on this line. He's scoring some big goals at big times. At $700,000, he's a bargain value.
-Again, Comeau now has 11 goals this season. In the previous three seasons with the Flames and Blue Jackets, he had 11 combined.
-Sidney Crosby looked fine in his first game back. Not spectacular by any means but okay. Keep in mind, he wasn't playing to the level of his considerable standards before he got the mumps. Within that context, he seemed okay tonight. Johnston suggested Crosby played too many minutes in tonight's game but said it was necessary given the talent on the other side of the puck. He seemed to hint Crosby would have a day off tomorrow.
-The Penguins' lines were different from this morning skate. Tonight, the primary lines were:
Nick Spaling - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Evgeni Malkin - Brandon Sutter - Blake Comeau
Rob Klinkhammer - Marcel Goc - Steve Downie
Bobby Farnham - Craig Adams - Bryan Rust
-Rust got a shift or two with Crosby and Hornqvist and showed off some nice speed and hands. Beyond that, he was mostly relegated to bottom six duties. While health is a factor, we would like to see him get a few more chances with either Crosby or Malkin. He isn't intimated by playing with either of those two.
Johnston lauded Rust for helping create the overtime goal:
“Tonight in overtime, I put him out there. I thought he really helped create that goal. He made the hit in the corner, kept the puck alive in the zone, made the change. [Evgeni Malkin] got on and [Malkin] and then [Blake Comeau] got the
goal together. We have some confidence in him as a player. It started with his development but it's also … he just seems to be a guy who now he's got the opportunity, some guys relish the opportunity and take advantage of it. And he's
doing that now and he just doesn't seem to be nervous.”
-Rust managed to get six shots in just 8:52 of ice time.
-Scott Harrington made his NHL debut and saw some elevated minutes with Ehrhoff's injury. He spoke on the game:
On playing his first NHL game:
“It was fun. It was quick. It as a little bit nerves in the first period there. It was a quick game against a good team. Each shift, I felt a little bit better and a little bit more comfortable. By the end of the … I guess by maybe the second half of the game it started to feel more like the practices here and I got used to the pace a little bit more. It was a lot of fun. Guys really helped me out a lot there on the ice and it was good.“
What changed with his defensive partner, Christian Ehrhoff, leaving after one period:
“I don't think it really changed much for me because I never really played with any of the guys. So it's not like it was a chemistry issue. Maybe for some of the other guys but it seems like the [defensemen] rotate within the pairings quite often due to injuries and stuff like that. It was a little more ice maybe but like I said, it was good the guys really helped me out. They talk a lot out there and tried to make life easy out there.“
-Harrington had 13:33 of ice time on 22 shifts, including one shift on the power play totaling 37 seconds. He had one shot and was credited with two blocked shots.
-Harrington's parents were able to drive down from Kingston, Ont. to take in the game.
-Bobby Farnham is going to Bobby Farnham. He picked a fight with Cody McLeod in the second period. McLeod, no shrinking violet, didn't seem to know what to expect from Farnham and as a result, McLeod mostly played defense until Farnham slipped and fell on a stray stick. McLeod took advantage of Farnham falling again later in the fight and sort of threw an uppercut as Farnham kneeled on the ice.
-We were willing to give him a few games to get back into the swing of things, but Hornqvist has been rather quiet since he came back to the lineup after being knocked in the head a few weeks ago.
Getting back to Pickard, he was outstanding. And this performance wasn't a fluke. He's probably been the Avalanche's best player most of the season. With all-star goaltender Semyon Varlamov in and out of the lineup due to a recurring groin injury, Pickard has stepped in and played very well. He has been responsible for much of the limited success the Avalanche has experienced this season.
-With the exception of Nathan MacKinnon, most of the Avalanche's stars were pretty quiet tonight.
-The Penguins led in shots on net, 48-29.
-The Penguins led in attempted shots, 60-51.
-Malkin, Hornqvist, Rust, Sutter and MacKinnon each led the game with six shots.
-Downie and Ehrhoff, who only logged 9:03 of ice time due to his injury, were the only Penguins' skaters who failed to record a shot tonight.
-Kris Letang led the game with 28:24 of ice time.
-Erik Johnson led the Avalanche with 24:26 of ice time.
-The Avalanche led in faceoffs, 32-29 (52 percent).
-Marc-Andre Cliche was 9 for 13 (69 percent).
-Crosby was 13 for 22 (59 percent).
-Letang led the game with four blocked shots.
-Johnston led the Avalanche with three blocked shots.
-Fleury recorded his sixth shutout of the season. Only Tom Barrasso (1997-98) recorded more in a single season for the Penguins.
-Last Penguins' shutout against a Colorado team saw Gary Edwards make 28 saves in a 6-0 road win against the Rockies, March 21, 1982.
-The Penguins won 1-0 in the overtime period for the first time since Nov. 17, 2001. A Jan Hrdina goal from Billy Tibbetts at 4:41 of overtime lifted Pittsburgh over the Rangers 1-0 at Mellon Arena. Johan Hedberg stopped all 26 shots to earn the victory.
-Some sites. The ice:
-Fans entering the barn:
-Ron Francis and Kevin Stevens were accounted for:
-As was Joe Mullen:
-Beau Bennett Wilkes-Barre/Scranton:
-There were a ton of Avalanche fans here tonight. Other than the Blackhawks, this might have been the most visiting fans from a current Western Conference team we've seen in the history of Consol Energy Center:
-The always Rob Blake/Bill Guerin combination:
-There are far too many of these. Larry Murphy:
-This is sharp. Shawn McEachern:
(That usher is all business.)
-Former Penguins/Current Avalanche left right winger Jarome Iginla:
-Jersey of the Night. You score a Stanley Cup-winning goal, you get jersey of the night. Maxime Talbot: