-There have been a lot of questions about Blake Comeau this season. Where would he fit in the lineup. Can he really play in a top-six role? Are the goals he's scoring a fluke? Will his scoring touch be impacted by his wrist injury?
-He answered the latest round of questions tonight by having a direct role in the Penguins' first two goals and sparking the team's second line in a 4-1 win tonight against the Red Wings.
-Comeau looked like the player who has surprised a lot of people in the first three months of the season. He was aggressive with his shot and with his body. He complimented Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist very well and helped make that line look truly dangerous for the first time in a long time.
-Comeau picked up a secondary assist on the Penguins' first goal just 1:51 into the game. After Kris Letang fired a slapper from the right point, it hit off the end boards and richochet to the right of the net. Hornqvist was right there to sweep it into the cage between the glove hand of Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek and the near post. It was Hornqvist's second goal (the other was an empty netter) in his eight games since returning to the lineup from a foot injury. He and the Penguins need it badly.
-Hornqvist wasn't particularly impressed with his goal. He said:
"I found a puck there. It was kind of lucky. But you know, if you spend enough time there, you know you're going to get one on your blade sooner or later."
-The Penguins made it a 2-0 game at the 12:51 mark. After Luke Glendening made a horrendous drop pass on his end boards, Hornqvist jumped all over the puck and fed it to Comeau in the slot. Comeau ripped a wrister by the blocker of Mrazek for his 12th goal of the season. It was a pretty shot as well.
At 3:04 of the second, the Penguins took a 3-0 lead. After Paul Martin made a great play to keep a puck in the offensive zone at the left point, he threw it down low to the end boards. Maxim Lapierre won a puck battle and chucked it off Mrazek from the left of the cage. Mrazek kicked out a bad rebound to the slot where David Perron cleaned it up for his 15th goal of the season. Call it a French Connection goal.
-The Penguins piled it on nearly five minutes later to make it 4-0 at the 7:52 mark. Rob Scuderi flung a wrister from the left point. Nick Spaling was positioned in the left circle and re-directed the puck behind Mrazek.
-After a hooking penalty to Steve Downie, the Red Wings scored their only goal on a power play at 13:26 of the second. Henrik Zetterberg fired a shot from the right circle which Stephen Weiss re-directed on net from the slot. Marc-Andre Fleury make the initial save but Rob Scuderi appeared to push it into the cage accidentally. That ended a lengthy shutout sequence for Fleury (More on that below).
-After replacing Mrazek in the second intermission with Jimmy Howard, the Red Wings came out strong and really generated quite a few offensive chance. The only problem was they didn't get all of them on net. They missed the cage a few times. Even still, they finished with a 9-4 advantage in third period shots but couldn't beat Fleury.
-Beau Bennett surprisingly returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for three consecutive games. He was played primarily on the third line with Brandon Sutter and Spaling. We'd be lying if we said we focused watching him all that much but he didn't certainly seem to be a liability. Mike Johnston was asked when the decision was made to play him:
"Basically after the morning skate, I just really thought I wanted to get him in this next sequence of games. I thought tonight, Detroit's a skating team. They're a skilled team. I thought it would be a good game to get him back in to. It's at home. We can get our matchups if there's an concern about a matchup. And I actually thought Beau did some good things tonight. The Spaling goal, the shot there, Beau's at the net. Beau's right there in front of the net. Those are some of the things he's got to add to his game. And I thought in the compete areas, he was good. I'm sure, like any young player coming back, you're nervous coming back in. But I thought he was good. He was fine. He did what we expected him to do."
-With Bennett in, Downie was bumped to the fourth line and Zach Sill was a healthy scratch.
-The lone wart on this beauty queen of a game for the Penguins was the power play. It went 0 for 2. It's now 0 for 12 over its past five games. Johnston almost sounded like a preacher offering a sermon on shooting the puck after the game:
"The first power play, I really like. I thought we had some good action, some good opportunities. But again, it's the shooting mindset. We have to get that shooting mindset down. And there was twice when I thought anyway looking at the bench live - I haven't looked at it on replay or anything - that they definitely could have shot. That shooting mindset has got to get there with that group."
-Mike Babcock was curt when assessing the game:
Mike Babcock on Wings 4-1 loss to Penguins: "They were good and we were bad." #succinct— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) February 12, 2015
-The Penguins' first line generated some shots but it wasn't nearly as dangerous as the second line.
-Fleury was hardly tested in the first two periods but was under fire in the third. He really clamped down on the Red Wings during a push at a key juncture of the game.
-Mrazek was not that good. If He makes a few fairly basic saves on the Penguins' goals, this is a much different game.
-Justin Abdelkader seemed to annoy the Penguins from time to time tonight. In the second period, after stealing the puck on a delayed penalty and shooting it down ice into the Penguins' open net following the whistle. Brandon Sutter sort of charged at him but was held at bay by linesman Bryan Pancich. In the third, Abdelkader and Chris Kunitz got mixed up and nearly fought before a few players jumped in the scrum. Despite that, no one was penalized.
-The Red Wings led in shots on net, 24-21.
-The Red Wings led in attempted shots, 49-39.
-Henrik Zetterberg led the game with four shots.
-Malkin and Perron each led the game with three shots.
-Letang led the game with 25:44 of ice time..
-Kronwall led the Red Wings with 21:57 of ice time.
-The Red Wings had a 22-19 edge in faceoffs (54 percent).
-Zetterberg was 8 for 12 (67 percent).
-Brandon Sutter was 7 for 13 (17 percent).
-Simon Despres led the game with four blocked shots.
-Kyle Quincey led the Red Wings with three blocked shots.
-Fleury made a little history tonight:
Fleury establishes a career-long shutout stretch of 165:06. Team record held by Vokoun at 173:06.— Pens Radio Network (@PensRadioNet) February 12, 2015
-All four of the Penguins' goal scorers were players acquired by Jim Rutherford.
-Sidney Crosby appeared in his 600th career game.
-Lapierre's assist on Perron's goal was his first point with the Penguins.
-Letang (273 points) moved past John Cullen and Bob Errey (272 points each) for 26th place on the franchise's career scoring list.
-Paul Martin (102 points) moved past Nick Harbaruk and Warren Young (101 points each for 84th place.
-None of the Penguins' top three centers scored a point tonight.
-Some sights. The ice:
-If you ever wondered what the net camera looked like, here you go:
-Fans entering the barn:
-There were plenty of Red Wings fans on hand. Steve Yzerman:
-Nicklas Lidstrom and Todd Bertuzzi:
-A rare Martin Straka "Snoop Dogg" jersey:
-Jersey of the Night: Former Penguins/Red Wings goaltender Ken Wregget: