Penguins notebook: Schultz makes good first impression against Devils
March 8, 2016 12:23 AM
The Penguins' Justin Schultz looks to make a pass in the third period Sunday against the New Jersey Devils.
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
NEW YORK — It took more than a week for defenseman Justin Schultz to get in a game after the Penguins acquired him Feb. 27 from Edmonton.
He seemed to think it was worth the wait.
Schultz’s debut in the Penguins’ 6-1 victory Sunday at New Jersey wasn’t particularly splashy — he played 16 minutes, 23 seconds, and recorded an assist, two shots and one blocked shot — but it was solid, which likely is all the coaching staff will ask of a guy playing on the third pairing.
Coach Mike Sullivan expressed satisfaction with Schultz’s performance, as did Schultz.
“Anytime you win, 6-1, you’re satisfied,” Schultz said. “But it’s nice to get that first one out of the way, for sure.”
It is not known if he will remain in the lineup when the Penguins visit the New York Islanders tonight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. How Schultz will fit in over an extended period is impossible to predict, but his skills and style seem to dovetail nicely with the way the Penguins like to play.
“These guys play fast,” Schultz said. “I think that helps me. Just get it up to the forwards and jump into the play and create that four-man attack.”
Schultz was paired with outgoing defenseman Ian Cole, who kept up a steady stream of chatter to help Schultz settle in with his new team and systems.
“I’m more on the quiet side,” Schultz said. “He made up for that.”
Bonino’s goal a relief
It wasn’t one of the headlines to come out of the game Sunday, but Nick Bonino scored the Penguins’ third goal.
That might not seem terribly significant, except that Bonino hadn’t gotten a goal in his previous 31 games, a drought stretching to Nov. 7.
“It’s good to break a streak like that,” he said. “They’re never fun.”
That goal, Bonino’s fourth, raised his shooting percentage for the season to 6.9 percent; his career-low in a fairly full season was 7.9 in 2011-12, when he was with Anaheim.
“It’s the lowest shooting percentage I’ve ever had,” Bonino said. “It’s shockingly low, so you have to think that will turn around at some point.”
A different approach
Blowing out the Devils in Newark had to do some psychological good for longtime Penguins players who have gotten accustomed to leaving the Prudential Center with little more than frustration and another low-scoring defeat.
Defenseman Kris Letang, however, said that at this point of the season, the Penguins don’t have the luxury of focusing on the team they’re playing.
“We’re not really looking at the opponent now,” Letang said. “It’s all about ourselves.”
Fleury vs. history
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to make another run at NHL history tonight.
He has 349 career victories and needs one to become the 20th goaltender to reach 350 in the league.
Fleury had a chance to get No. 350 Saturday at home, but the Penguins lost to Calgary, 4-2.
Bryan Rust had a goal and two assists Sunday, becoming the first Penguins rookie to record a three-point game since Alex Goligoski had two goals and an assist Dec. 22, 2008 at Buffalo. … The Penguins had a scheduled day off Monday.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.
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