Pens-Preds: Neal Up, Maatta Down

by John Toperzer

Pascal Dupuis scoring on a long slapper above the left circle. That’s his wheelhouse when he’s going good and he got one Friday night. Good to see after a 12-game goalless slump.


Olli Maatta had a ragged game, but the Pens’ overall sound play bailed the rookie out. I thought he turned the puck over more than the two times listed. In any case, Maatta was playing on the first unit with Kris Letang, a spot coach Bylsma envisions for him long-term. Gotta start somewhere.


Malkin smiling. That hasn’t happened much since the eighth-grade picnic, as Hall of Famer Mike Lange might say. Gino’s goalless streak has reached 12 games, but he does have eight assists in a six-game point streak.

Third-line secondary scoring. Brandon Sutter has taken some criticism lately and responded with a goal and an assist. Coach Dan Bylsma mentioned a Sutter injury prior to Friday’s game as one reason why his faceoff numbers have slipped. Knowing he’s been hurt, it’s easier to appreciate his slump.


James Neal looks like he’s back after a rusty debut. He deflected Malkin’s shot for one goal and was robbed by goalie Marek Mazanec on a second. Neal repeatedly went to the net, something most of his teammates aren’t so inclining to do.

Marc-Andre Fleury saw light action, stopping 17 of 18 shots. A tired Nashville team threw only three shots at him in the final period. The fact that he wasn’t tested bodes well for a team playing five games in an eight-day span.


Sidney Crosby went 10-4 in the faceoff circle, a good sign since he’s been under .500 (35W-36L) the last three games.

Robert Bortuzzo was a scratch. He cost the Pens a goal Wednesday, perhaps this will give him some time to think about his mistake. Call it a timeout without the dunce cap.

Dustin Jeffrey was also scratched. At some point the Pens will part ways, won’t they?

Pirates manager, Clint Hurdle, gets a Consol Energy Center shout-out during TV break. His some Christian turns either nine-years-old (if you believe ROOT’s Dan Potash) or 10 years of age (if you think the CONSOL Jumbotron is correct). In either case, Happy Birthday Christian!

Malkin’s power-play blast from high slot was deflected by James Neal for a goal, with Crosby getting a secondary assist. First time in 2013-14 the trio has pointed on same score — only took 19 games. It was just the fourth time the three were on the ice in the same game, but who would’ve predicted that preseason?

Peter Laviolette was here in the press box, likely scouting Seth Jones and other American Olympic hopefuls. He’s not too busy right now. Lavi will serve as an assistant to Pens coach, Dan Bylsma, for the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

I can honestly say I’d never heard of Nashville goalie, Marek Mazanec, prior to Friday. His pure thievery of a glove save on James Neal just has to crack the NHL Network’s Weekly Top 10.


Treasure Life!


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