Orpik gets goal; how rare is that?
Kris Letang scored the fourth and final goal that completed the Penguins' comeback from 3-2 down in the third period Tuesday vs. Colorado at Consol Energy Center.
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Brooks Orpik is not the guy who had launched 12 shots on goal a few nights earlier.
That would be Evgeni Malkin.
And he isn't the one who has scored in each of the Penguins' past eight home games.
That would be James Neal.
- Brooks Orpik TIME: 1:12 - SCORE: 3-3
- Evgeni Malkin TIME: 4:45 - SCORE: 4-3
- James Neal TIME: 7:17 - SCORE: 5-3
- Kris Letang TIME: 10:30 - SCORE: 6-3
No, Orpik is the one who can be counted on to get a goal every season -- two, if he really feels like showing off -- and he picked a pretty good time to make his offensive contribution for 2011-12.
The Penguins were trailing Colorado, 3-2, early in the third period Tuesday night at Consol Energy Center when Orpik took a slap shot from the left point.
The puck hit the skate of Avalanche center Jay McClement -- "I knew it hit something, because I heard a weird noise," Orpik said -- then knuckled over the glove of goalie Semyon Varlamov to trigger a run that ended in a 6-3 Penguins victory, their fifth in a row on home ice.
It was Orpik's first goal in 63 games and might have been the Penguins' most unexpected of the night, but it was not the most spectacular.
That would be Malkin's winner at 4:45 of the third.
Malkin triggered the sequence by forcing a turnover behind the Colorado net, then took a feed from Neal in the right circle, eluded Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog, dodged a poke-check and slid the puck past Varlamov.
"I think we're going to see that one again on the 'Plays of the Week,' " Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
The Penguins again played without center Sidney Crosby, but did get right winger Tyler Kennedy, who had missed the previous 11 games because of a concussion, back. He logged 15 minutes, seven seconds of ice time and earned an assist.
"It took me a period to get into it, but, after that, I felt good," he said.
Winger Steve Sullivan, who left their 5-3 loss Saturday night at Carolina because of an unspecified injury, also took a regular shift and got an assist.
Neal not only scored a goal for the eighth consecutive home game, but extended his scoring streak to seven games.
McClement opened the scoring at 14:51, when he fended off Sullivan at the right side of the crease -- not that much fending was required, since McClement weighs 44 pounds more than Sullivan -- and backhanded a rebound past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Less than three minutes later, Avalanche center Matt Duchene produced one of the slickest goals of this young season when he got the puck near the inner edge of the left circle, fed a pass to himself between his legs and then threw a backhander by Fleury while cutting across the slot at 17:24.
"I told him after the next faceoff, thanks for getting me on the highlights for the rest of the year," said Orpik, who was on the ice for that one.
Deflating as that goal had to be for the Penguins, Jordan Staal seemed to restore their equilibrium at 18:33. Staal took a backhand pass from Kennedy, who was below the goal line, inside the right circle and beat Varlamov for his ninth. Deryk Engelland received the other assist.
But, as quickly as the Penguins had gotten back into the game, they slipped out of it again.
With 15.5 seconds remaining in the period, David Jones of Colorado threw a shot by Fleury from inside the right circle after Penguins defenseman Paul Martin failed to disrupt his rush.
Pascal Dupuis got the Penguins back to within one at 11:01 of the second, when he pushed a loose puck across the goal line to cap a flurry that began with a wicked slap shot by Arron Asham from the top of the right circle.
Varlamov was powerless to prevent Orpik from pulling the Penguins even 72 seconds into the third, and Malkin put the Penguins in front to stay about 3 1/2 minutes later.
Neal made it 5-3 during a power play at 7:17, when he set up at the right side of the crease and converted a cross-ice feed from Sullivan for his 12th goal.
Colorado coach Joe Sacco noted the Penguins' 7-2 edge in power plays -- "I didn't think the game was that lopsided where it should have been 7-2," he said -- but this game was decided more by the Penguins' resilience than by special-teams play.
"It was a lack of execution, effort, call it whatever you want [early]," said defenseman Kris Letang, who scored the Penguins' final goal. "But it was really important that we regrouped and played a better game and we ended up with a win."
First Published November 16, 2011 12:05 am