The Pittsburgh Penguins concluded their training camp Friday morning, and are now looking ahead to Saturday night when they open the preseason against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Mellon Arena.
Once again, I will be turning to Jesse Marshall of Faceoff Factor for the full rundown of the third and final day of camp.
The line combinations looked the same as the first two days of practice, with Sidney Crosby leading Team White, while Evgeni Malkin led the charge for Team Black.
Team Black centerman Jeff Taffe opened the scoring with a goal in the first period. Crosby turned the puck over and Tyler Kennedy started a rush heading the other way. Kennedy found Taffe in the slot, and Taffe beat goaltender John Curry to make it 1-0 in favor of Team Black.
Crosby and Miroslav Satan connected for the third time during training-camp scrimmages, as Sid took the puck in the corner and fed a swift pass to Satan at the near-side post. Satan simply tapped the pass home, evening the score at one.
The Penguins' potential second line connected for Team Black during the early stages of the second period. Jordan Staal corralled a loose puck in the corner, fed it behind the net to Malkin, who found Petr Sykora in the high slot. Sykora alone in the slot results in a goal nine out of ten times. Sykie wristed it home to make it 2-1 Black.
Penguins' prospect Tim Wallace beat Dany Sabourin to even the score at two.
Early in the third period, the Staal-Malkin-Sykora line struck again. This time, it was Malkin picking up the trash in front of the net, rebounding off of a Sykora shot to give the Black Team a 3-2 lead.
Janne Pesonen, who has been pleading his case for a roster spot with the Penguins, connected on a goal that Jesse describes as "impressive." Pesonen deked into the offensive zone, went to the far side and flipped a backhand shot over the near-side post to extend the Black Team's lead to 4-2.
Satan tallied his fourth goal in three scrimmages for Team White by redirecting a Danny Richmond shot past Fleury to make the score 4-3, still favoring the Black Team.
Team White's next goal came from an unlikely line combination. Crosby was on the ice with Maxime Talbot and Ruslan Fedotenko. Talbot got the puck to Crosby, who then found Fedotenko in the slot. Fedotenko beat Fleury, high glove side, to even the score at four.
Regulation ended in a tie, and the two teams would battle for a win in the shootout. Team Black would be looking for their first victory in three contests.
Satan was up first for Team White. He missed the goal. 0-0.
Kris Legame opened things up for Team Black. He did the patented smooth-as-butter deke to the backhand and beat Sabourin. 1-0 Black.
Team White sent out Fedotenko next. He blazed through the offensive zone and beat Fleury, high glove side, without deking. 1-1.
Next up for Team Black was Evgeni Malkin. He surprised everyone by proving that he can score a goal in the shootout when he beat Sabourin on the backhand. Add the pressure of winning a game and 17,000 screaming fans to the picture and perhaps Gino might also prove that he can score in the shootout when it actually matters. 2-1 Black.
Crosby was Team White's next shooter. He deked in front of Fleury, but MAF brought out the poke-check and stripped Crosby of the puck. 2-1 Black.
Final Score: Team Black wins 5-4.
Jesse goes on to say that Satan "might be the perfect forward for Sidney Crosby." Four goals in three scrimmage games certainly does prove that Satan is capable of finding the net. One can only hope that it carries over into the regular season.
Jesse nominates Jeff Taffe for the fourth-line center position on the Penguins' roster. He says Taffe has looked impressive throughout camp, and his speed looks to have improved from last season.
Sidney Crosby was "his same old explosive self today." This comes as good news to those Penguin fans wondering if Sid has fully recovered from the ankle injury.
The "24-25-26" line of Cooke, Talbot, and Fedotenko has looked solid. This will likely be the Penguins' third line during the regular season—and if I'm Michel Therrien, I'm feeling pretty good about putting that trio on the ice in almost any situation.
Jesse adds that "with the way Tyler Kennedy has played in this training camp, it's safe to say he's made it."
After practice, the Penguins cut their roster to 24 forwards, 14 defensemen and four goalies. The departed players include Luca Caputi, Joey Haddad, Dustin Jeffrey, Nick Johnson, Mark Letestu, Keven Veilleux, and Casey Pierro-Zabotel.
Grant, Veilleux, and Zabotel will be returning to their respective junior hockey clubs while the remaining players will start the season in Wilkes-Barre Scranton of the AHL.
The Penguins open their preseason Saturday night at Mellon Arena when former Penguins Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, and Adam Hall make their first return to the Igloo since being traded away to Tampa Bay during the offseason. Saturday night will also mark the NHL debut of the Lightning's number-one overall draft pick, Steven Stamkos.
Special thanks goes out to Jesse Marshall of Faceoff Factor for his great coverage of the Pens' preseason training camp.
Check out the rest of the article, which includes pre-season pictures from around the NHL at Experiencing the Evolution.