On a number of levels, the Penguins finally found their game last night in a 4-3 overtime win in Phoenix. They outshot and outhit the Coyotes by a wide margin. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were the best players on the ice. The wingers did what the Penguins' wingers are supposed to do - and all this particular set of wingers can be expected to do - by creating havoc on the forecheck and firing pucks at the net. Paul Martin was a presence in every zone. And Mark Letestu continued to make the case that it should be his life-sized poster that Little Artistry uses to chart his growth. All of this was done on the road, in the second of back-to-back games, against a playoff team with a very good goalie in Ilya Bryzgalov. A big early-season moment for this team. Just one problem...
- Once again, Marc Andre-Fleury looked completely lost in goal. His confidence is shot. The first goal came on a point blank shot, and it was a great finish by Eric Belanger, but combine that with the missed pokecheck on Radim Vrbata's goal, and you're looking at a terrible 7-minute showing for the Pens' franchise netminder. But you have to hand it to Fleury. There he was after the game, that big silly grin on his face, congratulating everybody and playfully jabbing his glove into Max Talbot's face. Who can say what's going on in his head right now. Dan Bylsma sounded after the game like he'll be as patient as he needs to be with Fleury, but this is really getting ugly.
- Brent Johnson was again generally pretty terrific.
- Geno finally buried a shot, and you could see the weight fly off his shoulders. If he starts to play the way it looked like he would this season in training camp, this is an entirely different team than we've seen through the first 14 games.
- As bad as Fleury was tonight, it's possible the officials were worse. There is no way Vrbata's goal was called a goal on the ice. You could see video of the ref blowing the whistle before the puck went in. They didn't call anything; they just blew the play dead. But that was nothing compared to the decision to waive off Crosby's goal in the second because of an alleged cross-check by Pascal Dupuis. Maybe FSN had video of the infraction (I was watching the Phoenix broadcast). I didn't see it. And to be fair, there was no way they should have put the Pens on the power play in overtime. Just a bad display.
- Every tough guy wants to try Deryk Engelland these days. That's very flattering to Engelland, and entertaining to watch, but Engelland is starting to get exposed on defense. He was beaten pretty soundly on each of the first two Phoenix goals. Query whether he should ever be in the lineup against a team that emphasizes skill and skating.
- We've got a few days to revel in the effectiveness of the Talbot-Rupp-Adams line. Enjoy it. Boston on Wednesday. LGP