Coming off a three-game win streak, the Penguins still looked rough. A second chance at beating the Stars meant an opportunity to gauge how the Pens stack up against the best teams in the league.
The verdict: this team is clearly in the middle of the pack right now.
The 2015 Penguins are a team that needs to score plenty of goals in order to succeed, and the scoring just hasn’t been happening.
The Stars are clearly a force to be reckoned with. Antti Niemi has looked unstoppable playing against the Penguins. After injury troubles last year, Dallas is a team on the rise.
The Penguins, meanwhile, are in decline. No other way to look at it right now. Other than Sprong, this is no longer a young team. There’s still some speed – Kessel and Dupuis haven’t slowed down much. But the energy and exuberance of the 2008 and 2009 Penguins is a thing of the past.
The Pens got some good news on the injury front, as Pascal Dupuis played his first NHL game since November 2014. Daniel Sprong, who missed last game due to visa issues at the Canadian border, was out of the lineup again. We’re still waiting on Eric Fehr.
The Penguins had a great run to start the game, outshooting the Stars 9-2 and looking like the first game against Dallas was just a bad dream. However, the momentum turned back the other way as the Pens failed to cash in on those early chances.
Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn didn’t even have to score for this game to get out of hand pretty quickly. Familiar Atlantic Division rival Johnny Oduya scored the first one on a shot from the blue line with Fleury screened. John Klingberg added another long-range goal on the powerplay. The Pens couldn’t score despite a few chances on a powerplay of their own late in the period.
David Perron committed an absolutely brutal turnover early in the period, essentially passing the puck to a wide-open Jason Spezza. Spezza may not be the same player we remember from the Senators’ mid-2000s Alfredson/Heatley/Spezza line, but he’ll make you pay if you give him an opportunity like that. He rifled it past Fleury to make it 3-0.
I feel bad for Perron, who by all accounts worked his ass off over the summer. However, he’s a big liability right now. He got himself demoted to the fourth line after that play, and we may see HCMJ healthy scratch him in the near future.
Nick Bonino, who has been having the opposite of Perron’s season, scored a goal all by himself. It gave Pens fans some hope that the team could get back in this game.
Unfortunately, Mattias Janmark scored his third of the season less than two minutes later and the Pens were back in a three-score hole.
Not much happened other than a bunch of penalties. Jason Demers slammed his elbow into Bonino’s face and got a game misconduct. It appears Bonino is going to be fine, but Demers will be having a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. Kind of gutless to elbow a guy late in a game with your team winning.
Pens are in Nashville on Saturday.