DeSmith makes a statement, penguins are winning battles (+)

The Pittsburgh Penguins looked good on this side. Prior to their four-day rest, they had picked up just three wins in their previous 10 games and served up a few easy wins to the Eastern Conference’s main contenders. Everything looked different for the Penguins on Thursday night, from backchecking to protecting the net to avoid a second chance.

Head coach Mike Sullivan said his team was “pretty good” with the details. Thursday’s scoreboard reflected the Penguins’ renewed efforts in a 4-0 win over the Boston Bruins at PPG Paints Arena. Jake Guentzel had a hat trick and Casey DeSmith was unbeatable.

Pittsburgh Penguins postgame.

In the first period, Sullivan pulled Sidney Crosby and the Penguins’ first line away from Selke center Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. The move paid off with the Penguins’ first goal and five scoring chances in the first period.

It also gave the Penguins the momentum and edge they never had against the Bruins last Saturday in a 2-1 loss at TD Garden.

In the third period, Sullivan tied Crosby with Bergeron to keep the “perfection line” in check. Boston had 22 shots in the third period, but DeSmith made the first saves and the defenders did the rest.

“They throw a lot of pucks everywhere. This is a team that is looking for those second chance rebounds. They’re shooting from the boards… they’re just throwing pucks all over the net, and they’re creating a lot of havoc there. So that was a great job from Casey,” said Jason Zucker, who scored his eighth goal of the season. “I think our defense cleared the net very well…”

There were a handful of real wrinkles on the board and things the Penguins did differently, including winning battles in net. These things will bode well for the playoffs. And the goalkeeper’s performance also helped a lot. It’s a fun newsletter.

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