Time and again Big Dustin Byfuglien set up at the blueline Tuesday night at Consol, ready to uncork one of his blinding slapshots against Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins' top-ranked penalty killing unit. And though giving Big Buff 8 power plays last night to fire away seemed like a winning formula for Atlanta, the Penguins' penalty kill looks like a great Steelers' defense right now. It's a unit that can virtually win the game on its own. The Thrashers converted only 1 of their 8 opportunities with a man advantage, Matt Cooke and Craig Adams were unreal, combining on a shorthanded goal of their own while frustrating Atlanta at every turn, and Zbynek Michalek took a pillow and pressed it down on the Thrashers' collective face and didn't let up until they drew their last breath. Then, after they were already dead, the Thrashers had to deal with Sidney Crosby.
- The final score had no relationship to how the Penguins came out in the first period. It was pretty much a replay of the lackluster first period last Sunday night in Ottawa, and that's a problem this team needs to rectify quickly. The Thrashers - believe it or not - led the Eastern Conference in scoring coming into the night - and early on they were scorching the Penguins' defense off the rush. Fleury was, yet again, spectacular. He played out of his mind the first ten minutes of the game, single-handedly keeping the Pens in it.
- Then, suddenly, Chris Kunitz looked like he was shot out of a cannon and drew a penalty. And Crosby took over. After Kris Letang made a brilliant play to keep the puck in, he slid it over to Crosby in the circle for a one-timer over a sprawling and, as always against Pittsburgh, ineffective Ondrej Pavelec. Late in the period Alex Goligoski found Crosby flying up the middle, Sid spit the defense. The game was tied, but it was also over. In the second period, the Pens' got to their game and tilted the ice, dramatically, toward the Thrashers' end.
- Geno Malkin was haunting people last night. He was all over the puck, picking off passes, turning defense into offense, and, even though he didn't score, generally doing what he does when you know he's on his game.
- Another 4 points for Sid. A 13-point lead in the scoring race. But who's counting.
The Pens are in Long Island tonight for the final game of the year. Let's do this in style.