Wings answer Pens’ prayers
The Penguins found their wings in Game 4.
Until then, they had been living on a prayer.
Wingers Bill Guerin and Ruslan Fedotenko scored first-period goals and Maxime Talbot added another in the third, as the Penguins skated to a 5-3 victory Friday over the Washington Capitals at Mellon Arena to tie their Eastern Conference semifinal at two games apiece.
It marked the first time in the Stanley Cup playoffs that two Penguins wingers scored even-strength goals in the same game, let alone three.
The only other occasion that happened comes with an asterisk: Right wing Tyler Kennedy scored the go-ahead goal and left wing Talbot added an empty-netter in Game 4 of the first-round series against Philadelphia.
“That’s what you need in the playoffs, if you’re going to be successful,” said Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton, who has three playoff goals. “It’s not a one- or two-man show.”
Entering Game 4, however, the Penguins’ wingers had accounted for only six of the team’s 26 goals through nine playoff games and 16 total points. In one four-game stretch between the Flyers and Capitals series, they provided only one goal. Meantime, the centers carried the burden by scoring 13 playoff goals, eight by Sidney Crosby.
Entering last night’s game, the Penguins’ defensemen had supplied the same amount of goals as their wingers, including Kris Letang’s overtime winner in Game 3 of the Capitals’ series. Sergei Gonchar’s power-play goal last night gave the Pens’ blue-liners a 7-6 scoring edge over their wings.
That statistic apparently didn’t bother the Penguins’ wingers.
“It’s one of those games. You’re going to see that. You’re going to see guys go through a series without that happening. They’re going to go through the next series and get a bunch,” Guerin said. “The main thing is, if a guy’s not scoring, that he’s playing the right way and doing things to help the team.
“Eventually, through that you’re going to get stats.”
The surge of stats started when Guerin scored the go-ahead goal at 10:47, threading a pass to Crosby between two defenders from the right boards and then rebounding after Crosby twice was turned away.
It was Guerin’s first goal since Game 2 of the Flyers series, when he scored twice. The 17-year veteran has 31 career goals in the postseason, and later got a secondary assist on a Crosby goal.
“I was happy for him,” Crosby said of Guerin. “He’s a goal-scorer. He makes a lot of things happen in the high slot. I saw he crashed the net for that goal. He’s just a guy who’s strong. He wins a lot of battles. He’s responsible out there. He does a lot of different things. … He’s got a great shot, especially in the slot.”
Not to be outdone, Fedotenko scored his third playoff goal – and second in as many games – when his shot skipped off the glove of Capitals rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov for a power-play goal at 15:25. Fedotenko later assisted on Talbot’s goal.
Fedotenko’s sudden scoring surge was his second display of nice timing in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He also scored the Penguins’ first goal after they fell behind, 3-0, in Game 6 of the Flyers series.
While Satan didn’t score a goal, his perfectly-timed pass through the legs of Capitals defenseman John Erskine set up Crosby perfectly for a goal at 4:16 of the third period for a 4-2 lead.
It was Satan’s first point of the playoffs.
Talbot got into the act in the third, taking a Fedotenko pass off the left boards and flipping a short-side shot past Varlamov for a 5-3 advantage at 14:46. It was Talbot’s second goal of the playoffs.
“All of our forwards have done a great job, whether they’re scoring goals or not,” Eaton said. “It’s not all about scoring goals. It’s about being good defensively. They’ve been great on the walls. They’ve been great outs for us defensemen. It’s a joy to have them up there because they’re all hard workers and get the job done all the time.”