Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defensemen Making Points in Big Way

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Defensemen Making Points in Big Way

Article excerpt

The Penguins have gotten a ton of production from their top line centered by Evgeni Malkin for months, and, more recently, center Jordan Staal's line has been on fire.

But the team has gotten some important secondary scoring in recent weeks from another subset: its defensemen.

It hasn't happened on the power play since pointman Kris Letang got hurt -- an 0-for-14 stretch -- and it didn't happen Friday in a 2-1 shootout win, but ...

Letang had four goals, eight points in the nine games before he got hurt; Paul Martin had four assists in four games before missing the Friday game because of illness; Deryk Engelland had two goals and an assist in the six games before he got hurt; Zbynek Michalek has one goal, three points in his past seven games; Brooks Orpik has four assists in the past five games; Matt Niskanen has two assists in the past seven games, and Ben Lovejoy has one assist in the past three games.

"It's something that our system allows us to do," Michalek said. "Our coaches encourage us to jump into the play all the time, help our forwards out. Anytime you can create some offense from your defense, it's great for your team, and those teams usually do well."

Overall, the Penguins have gotten 23 goals, 124 points from defensemen through 67 games going into the Sunday matinee against Boston.

"We need to bring that," said Niskanen, whose 19 points are his most since 2008-09. "It's not something that we've changed or anything. That's our game. We're involved in the attack. We supplement the rush when we can. We're involved in the offensive zone. It's something that's expected."

Injury updates

While Martin and goaltender Brent Johnson (unspecified injury) did not skate Saturday, Letang (concussion symptoms) and Engelland (unspecified injury) joined their teammates on the ice at Southpointe.

Part of the reason was the limited time allotted to the team. …

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