For the second time in his two games this season, Sidney Crosby had yet another hand in a Pittsburgh Penguin win. This time, the captain scored the game-winning goal in Thursday’s 4-2 win against the New York Islanders.
But Crosby wasn’t the only star of Thursday’s game. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was the best player on the ice and has become a vital part of this early season. Without Fleury’s amazing instincts and unrelenting presence around the net, Pittsburgh would’ve lost this game. The Penguins’ goaltender made 35 saves on 37 shots.
New York’s Travis Hamonic and Shane Prince both scored their first goals of the season Thursday. But the rest of the Islanders had no answer for Fleury’s impeccable play.
Pittsburgh put together quite a few impressive plays against the Islanders. Most of these plays involved intricate passes by the Penguins through the Islanders’ players.
The first goal of the game came off the stick of Patric Hornqvist, who scored after a parade of passes right in front of New York’s goalie, Jaroslav Halak, who, in his own right, had a fantastic game.
In fact, with a 1-1 tie heading into the final period, it looked as though neither goalie was going to let up. Both teams scored in the third, but Pittsburgh was able to just find the edge and give its fans another close — but satisfying — win.
One thing fans can take away from Thursday’s game is that the Penguins’ offense has been fairly consistent. Granted, this season there have been no blowouts or games where it seemed Pittsburgh dominated all three periods, but the Penguins are finding ways to win.
With expectations incredibly high coming off a Stanley Cup-winning season and without so many integral parts of the team missing at different points, the team could have easily sat back and waited for things to come together.
But head coach Mike Sullivan has continued to prove his worth to this team, and the Penguins have clearly responded to the high expectation he’s set.
What’s even more impressive is that the Penguins have already played against some pretty good competition this season when not at full-strength. It’s encouraging to see this team win against good teams without some of its best players.
In each win Pittsburgh has notched this season, it’s allowed no more than two goals. Fleury is having a profound effect on this team and is keeping them in games.
Of course, this could change. But, for right now, the Penguins have done an incredible job in not only finding the lead, but keeping it.
Next time out, the Penguins will be facing their bitter rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers. The game will begin a four-game road trip that will take Pittsburgh to the West Coast to play the Ducks, Kings and Sharks — in that order.
Saturday’s game against the Flyers will begin at 7:00 p.m. EDT at the Wells Fargo Center.
Image credit: Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo