Daniel Briere drew first blood, but it was a river of orange blood that flowed for the remainder of the game. The Penguins (3-3) scored five unanswered goals on their way to a convincing 5-1 win Saturday night over the rival Philadelphia Flyers (2-2-1). The win avenged last week’s win in Pittsburgh by Philadelphia.
The Penguin power play continued to struggle early on with an 0-for-4 start. As the game progressed, the Penguins started taking more shots on goal on the power play and finally showed signs of waking up from hibernation with two power play goals by Sidney Crosby.
Mark Letestu continued his strong 2011 campaign, scoring his third goal of the season. He battled hard in front of the net, before getting his stick free just enough to poke the puck past goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky, who had looked stellar in last week’s win over Pittsburgh, seemed to come back to earth a bit in this one.
What can you say about Penguin backup goaltender Brent Johnson? He continued to make some huge saves early in the game to keep it tied at one, and then in the third period he continued to keep the Flyers off the board. Just look at this difference in stats. Johnson is 3-0, sporting a 1.32 GAA, as well as a .953 save percentage. Marc-Andre Fleury on the other hand is carrying an 0-3 record, a 3.41 GAA, and an .853 save percentage.
I never thought I’d say this, but you just might have a goaltender controversy in Pittsburgh. Head coach Dan Bylsma was clearly not happy with Fleury’s play through three games, and as a result, Brent Johnson has gotten, and made the most of, his opportunity. It should be very interesting to see who ends up in net against Ottawa on Monday night.
Bylsma should probably ride the hot goaltender until Johnson cools off. He’s flat out been the better player so far, and I think that should earn him some more playing time. At the same time, Fleury is the long-term option in goal, and you really need to give him a chance to redeem himself. It’s a tough decision to be sure, but I’m sure Bylsma already has an idea how he is going to handle it.
As it stands, the Penguins have dug out of the early 1-3 start and are starting to play better hockey. It’ll be fun to see how good this team is once they get Jordan Staal, Zbynek Michalek and Brooks Orpik back.