Penguins rookie winger Michel Ouellet scored his seventh and eighth power-play goals of the season Saturday night to surpass Sidney Crosby for the team lead, and all eight have come in the last 10 games since he was recalled from Wilkes-Barre on Dec. 15.
“I think it’s an instinct,” Ouellet, 23, said of his ability to be in the right place at the right time. “I just try to find the opening to get the puck or find where the rebound’s going to go and try to be there before the defensemen.”
Ouellet’s spot is at the corner of the net to the right of the goalie, from where he can either get himself open to get a pass from Sidney Crosby or Ziggy Palffy, or get a rebound.
“He’s willing to stand in there and he has a good stick,” assistant coach Mike Yeo said. “That’s the biggest thing. Players like that are able to use their stick well around the net. Guys can be cross-checking them and banging them and holding them but if his stick is free he’s going to find a way to get it on the puck.”
Yeo said it isn’t just the ability to score that makes Ouellet (8 goals, 5 assists, 12 games going into last night) good on the advantage, though.
“I don’t think he doesn’t get enough credit for how hard he works on the power play,” Yeo said. “Most teams have their hardest workers killing penalties and there’s going to be loose pucks and he’s done a great job jumping on those loose pucks. You look at even the goal that (Mark Recchi) scored (on Friday). Mike Ouellet dove to keep the puck in the offensive zone and we ended up scoring on the play.”
Malone back in
Ryan Malone didn’t have to wait long to back in the lineup. Two days after coach Michel Therrien said that he liked the lineup the way it was and that he didn’t believe Malone took the opportunity he was given to get back in the game on Monday, he put the 26-year-old winger in against the Thrashers. Malone, 26, was a healthy scratch for four of the previous five games going into last night but scored last night, his seventh of the year and first since Dec. 16. Scratched in his place was C Erik Christensen. D Lyle Odelein was the other scratch.
The Penguins held an optional morning skate yesterday after flying back from Atlanta to end their five-day, three-game road trip on Friday night, and had 18 players on the ice. … Mario Lemieux was on the ice yesterday, but in a very informal capacity. The Penguins captain skated without any pads for about 15 minutes with son Austin before his teammates got on the ice. … Nine Penguins players will sign autographs on Monday night at the Dick’s Sporting Goods at the Mall at Robinson during three one-hour sessions between 6-9 p.m. Each session is $20 with proceeds benefiting the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh and the new YMCA Junior Penguins youth street hockey program. The schedule is: 6-7 p.m. – Mark Recchi, John LeClair, Lyle Odelein; 7-8 p.m. – Ziggy Palffy, Sergei Gonchar, Dick Tarnstrom; 8-9 p.m. – Ryan Malone, Ric Jackman, Brooks Orpik.