Pittsburgh Penguins return home after tough west coast trip
Published: Thursday, November 10, 2011
Updated: Friday, November 11, 2011 12:11
In the month of November there have been two games. Both were played in the West, and both ended in a shootout.
After half a week off, the Pens flew out to San Jose for a Thursday night match-up against the Sharks. The team started off quickly with a goal 24 seconds into the game, Deryk Engelland's first goal of the season. Then Evgeni Malkin scored at the two-minute mark. The team looked like it was on the way to its first win in San Jose in 14 years.
But in the second period, it was all San Jose, even though Malkin scored another goal. The third period was much of the same, the Penguins got away from their game and let San Jose tie it up. In defense of the team though, Ben Lovejoy crashed into the boards and broke his wrist. The injury forced other defenseman to pull more time, including Kris Letang who marked 33:56 minutes during the game, a career high.
At the end of the shootout it was the Penguins who came away with only one point and another injury to add to the list. San Jose also remains the only team in the NHL, besides the Penguins of course, that Dan Bylsma's team has not registered a win against during his career as coach.
Saturday, the Penguins played in Los Angeles and, though the game ended up in a shootout, this game was more in the Penguins' favor. After Steve Sullivan scored his first goal with the Pens, it was all Chris Kunitz. His late goal in the third and shootout goal gave the Penguins a win to celebrate on their long flight home.
Sidney Crosby flew out on the trip with the team but flew back before the game against the Kings for a doctor's appointment. Bylsma has been very stern that there is no date set for Crosby's return, though some speculate it could be coming soon with the Penguins getting back to a regular schedule. But the team has been fine, and will continue to play well without him.
James Neal may have dropped to fourth in the league in goals, but don't think he hasn't stopped shooting the puck. He leads the league with 64 shots. Tonight's game against the Stars will be a reunion for Neal and his first team; look for him to score a big goal or have a great game.
One face you won't see on the Penguins team anymore is Mark Letestu.
The centerman was traded to Columbus Tuesday in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick.
Now the main concern of the Pens is getting their defenseman healthy. Hopefully before the new year the Pens will have their core defenseman all healthy and playing their shut-down defense.