The Penguins took their first preseason win by beating the Buffalo Sabers 2-1 on Friday at the KeyBank Center. Dominik Simon and Michael Chaput scored for Pittsburgh.
Sam Poulin-Radim Zohorna-Kasperi Kapanen
Dominik Simon-Michael Chaput-Valterri Puustinen
Kasper Bjorkqvist-Drew O’Connor-Nathan Legare
Kyle Olson-Jordy Bellerive-Anthony Angello
Marcus Pettersson-Will Reilly
Niclas Almari-Taylor Fedun
Matt Bartkowski-Mitch Reinke
THOUGHTS, THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
– Both goalkeepers were really good in this game. They played halfway each, with DeSmith stopping all 11 shots he faced in the first 30:30 of the game, and Domingue only allowing one goal out of 21 shots for the remainder of the competition.
First off, it’s great to have DeSmith back healthy after missing the regular season end and all postseason due to a core muscle injury that required off-season surgery. And he looked like he hadn’t missed a shot despite an injury as he was sharp from the start and came up with a few athletic saves. DeSmith played a major role in the Penguins’ success last year as part of Pittsburgh’s goalkeeping tandem Tristan Jarry, went 11-7 in 20 appearances and will try to make more of them this year.
“I think the way this league has developed most teams need two goalkeepers,” said head coach Mike Sullivan. “There aren’t that many teams left with a goalkeeper who goes from wire to wire. Casey has played a lot of important games for us during the time we had him as the Pittsburgh Penguin. He was a big part of the regular season. ” Last year when he was healthy and this tandem was effective for us. Having two good performances is, in my opinion, crucial to the ability of a team to be successful in this league. “
Second, it’s great to have the much-needed depth in the goalkeeping position with Domingue. The Penguins signed the 29-year-old netminder as a free agent this summer, believing he has some advantages – having shown brilliant lightning bolts at the NHL level – and a feeling they may be able to add him to the line-up to help them win ice hockey games.
That’s what Domingue did today, despite the Sabers firing 15 shots at him in the third third as they pushed for an equalizer. Buffalo had some particularly good chances to score early on, and Domingue came up with a few dazzling stops to secure the Penguins lead with one goal.
“I was impressed with Louis Domingue tonight,” said Sullivan. “I thought he made some big saves on the track. Buffalo really pushed in the third period and they had some good chances. I thought Louis did a really good job. He made some really big saves.”
– I loved what I saw of Simon, who is back for his sophomore season at Pittsburgh after five years with the Penguins, after spending last season with the Calgary Flames. Simon had hoped to return to Pittsburgh in some capacity and said he would improve and improve if the opportunity ever presents itself. It did and he did.
“I thought he had a good game tonight,” said Sullivan. “He scored a nice goal. But he did a lot more. I just think he’s one of the stiffer players we have on the puck. It’s hard to get it from him. I think that’s a Part of what helps him with everyone we have. ” Choose to take it with you on a specific night. That line tends to get some offense time because they’re strong on the puck and it starts with him. “
– Chaput was one of the players who benefited from it. Penguins CEO Ron Hextall had mentioned him by name when he was talking about players who might have a better chance Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out to start the year. And the 29-year-old striker, who signed as a free agent this summer, certainly took the opportunity to show what he can do in his first game in a Penguins sweater.
Chaput took into account both goals from Pittsburgh, received the second submission on Simon’s record in the first third and scored his own goal in the second section.
– There were a couple of big men on the lineup for Pittsburgh, including Radim Zohorna, Anthony Angello and Drew O’Connor. I thought O’Connor, 23, stood out the most. The sophomore striker was felt throughout the camp after a summer of hard work.
After appearing in 10 games with Pittsburgh last season after signing with the Penguins as a free agent from Dartmouth, O’Connor returned to New England and made some big changes in hopes of big payouts. He eliminated gluten and dairy products in his diet and worked really hard in the gym to gain weight and get faster and it definitely shows. The great striker looks a lot faster than last season.
At some point he threw himself on the forecheck like a bat out of you, and easily separated his husband from the puck. O’Connor said making turnovers and plays is a big part of his game, but he thought he relied too much on his racket last year. So a big focus for him this year is to be a little more physical and use his body more, and he was able to do that tonight.
Sullivan feels that O’Connor has made a significant step and says he’s much more confident. Sullivan also liked how O’Connor, who played wing in those 10 NHL games but is able to play center, went 10-4 at face-off for a 71% pass rate.
“I think he plays with more conviction and he’s not that hesitant,” said Sullivan. “He’s more assertive. Drew is a fascinating player because he’s a good size, he can really skate and shoot the puck. He’s strong at the puck and he has the ability to play both positions. I thought he had tonight a really good game. ” . “