After getting completely destroyed 10-1 by Chicago, the Penguins bounced back with Murray in net and played like we have seen them play in the past. Shutting out the Predators was important for the Pens and Murray as they needed to shake the stink off of the first couple of games. And there was plenty of stink there to rid themselves of.
The number 1 star for the game was Ryan Reeves. Many were wondering what Reeves really brought to the table coming into this season. In the first two games, he was fairly quiet. But unfortunately for the Predators, he woke up and got real loud. He got into two fights, dished out 7 hits, and scored a goal as he was a one man wrecking crew on the ice. By the way, check out how he was interviewed after the game.
The Pens would score just a minute into the game as Evgeni Malkin would rip one into the net from between the circles to give the Pens a 1-0 lead. It was at that moment you could see Nashville’s holdovers from last season say “here we go again.” The Penguins would score a second goal in the first period as Jake Guentzel, whom tortured the Preds last year would continue that with a goal to extend the lead.
The Pens would add a goal each in the second and third period which would include a tip in by Reeves in the second and then a Olli Maatta goal in the third. As a note, Maatta played a much better game on Saturday as he was more active. He was a spectator in the Thursday night game and a minus 5 while on the ice because of it. A staggeringly bad game for not just him, but the entire team.
The Pens played would could be the worst game in the history of the franchise on Thursday. They followed that up on Saturday with a complete game that was dictated by hits, pressure, and the Pens taking advantage of every opportunity they would get. It was a complete 180 from the other night, and a much needed effort and win during a very difficult stretch which includes Chicago, Nashville, Washington, and Tampa Bay. Not sure why, but it clearly looks like the NHL sent the Pens a message with that opening two weeks of play with a ridiculous schedule.
We had to figure that Sullivan would get things straightened out a bit, although after the 10-1 drubbing he called the loss and their play thus far this season “ALARMING!” That is a very telling word and statement this early into the season.
Pittsburgh will play yet another back to back this week as they travel to the Nations Capital to play the Capitals on Wednesday followed by a trip to Tampa on Thursday. Tampa was many media members favorite coming into the season.
I am sure Sullivan is itching to put Niemi back in to see what they have with him, although I would not be surprised to see Murray start both just because of how difficult the stretch is. Not to mention they have a whole season ahead to give him some rest.