Saturday, January 2, 2016

Crosby, Pens PP Heating up under Sullivan

The Pittsburgh Penguins have scored nine goals in 23 opportunities on the power play in their last seven games, a span that has seen them go 4-2-1 and climb back into playoff contention in the Metropolitan Division. It's a far cry from where the Penguins power play was right around the time new head coach Mike Sullivan took over the team on December 12th. The Pens went 0 for 19 in the seven games leading up to the current streak, including two after Sullivan had taken over, but apparently the team is adapting to the new regime nicely--and it showed on Saturday night as the Penguins put forth one of their strongest efforts of the season to derail an Islander team that had beaten them four consecutive times.

Pittburgh went two for four with the man advantage on the evening, getting two tallies from Sidney Crosby to improve to 19-15-4 and close to within two points of the final wild card spot, currently held by Boston. The moved the puck efficiently, and didn't hesitate to unload at the net to take advantage of Patric Hornqvist's net-front presence. The Islanders, a team that had killed off 42 straight penalties until giving up a power play goal in Buffalo on Thursday, were no match for the Pittsburgh swarm.

It was enough to impress Islanders coach Jack Capuano:

Crosby, who went the first five games of the season without logging a single point, has spent the last five racking up five goals, and he's now put up ten points in his last seven games. With Marc-Andre Fleury back after missing eight games due to a concussion, and Kris Letang playing his fourth game since missing more than two weeks due to injury, Pittsburgh appears ready to rally.

"Two games with five goals is nice," Crosby said, referring to his team's 5-2 win over Detroit on New Year's Eve. "It seemed like we built off that Detroit game a bit with the great start there that we had and it feels good to have a couple games like that. … Any way we can create things, and I think we didn't have to cheat to do it. It wasn't like we had to take risks. I think we just played simple and the goals were kind of a result of that."