The Pittsburgh Penguins turned it on this week by posting a 4-0 record after a brief three-game losing streak the week before.
Last night, the Penguins completed the sweep of a home-and-home series with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
One of the more notable things about last night’s game was how the Penguins were sure to insulate Jeff Zatkoff.
Last week, Zatkoff played well against the Islanders, but the team let him down and got sucked into a run-and-gun mentality. As a result, the Penguins allowed three goals in the third period and lost 4-3.
Against the Blue Jackets, the Penguins protected the net early and often and limited Columbus to just 19 shots. Zatkoff wasn’t great in the game, but he didn’t need to be thanks to his teammates.
Again, the team owed him this one with how poorly they had played in front of him for his first two starts.
Zatkoff came up with a couple big stops while the game was still in reach for Columbus though. Overall, it was a good performance by the rookie netminder and should give him some confidence for the next time he steps between the pipes.
As a whole, the Penguins blocked 15 shots in the game. Olli Maatta led the way with four blocks.
All of this came a night after the Blue Jackets dominated the shot clock in Pittsburgh 39-27. Had it not been for a spectacular display of goaltending by Marc-Andre Fleury, the game could have been a blowout win for Columbus.
Fleury was that good and I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say he stole two points Friday night.
The Penguins also benefited from some poor goaltending by reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, whose name was effectively removed from the deed at CONSOL Energy Center finally.
Bobrovsky allowed three goals on 13 shots and was yanked in the second period.
It’s also worth noting how well Jayson Megna has played so far for the Penguins.
In five games, Megna has scored two goals and added an assist, but it’s not just about the points.
Megna has stepped in and done what he’s needed to do to make an impression.
From the first time over the boards, he’s gone to the front of the net. Better yet, he’s creating chances either for himself or the team by being in and around the blue paint.
Dan Bylsma has taken notice of it too. Due to the injuries to James Neal, Beau Bennett and Chuck Kobasew, Megna saw regular time with Evgeni Malkin and Jussi Jokinen over the last two games.
However, don’t think for a second Megna is a one-trick pony. His speed allows him to track down pucks in the corners and it opens up chances off the rush.
Whether or not he stays in Pittsburgh once the Penguins get healthy remains to be seen, but he’s certainly making the most of his opportunity right now.
Overall, the four straight wins have given the Penguins a seven-point lead over the New York Islanders in the Metropolitan Division. They now have a few days off before they head to New York to take on the Rangers Wednesday night.
You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sheavedice