Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Penguins 5 Stars 1 Top Line Begins to Show Flashes Recent Acquisition Records Three Points

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Penguins 5 Stars 1 Top Line Begins to Show Flashes Recent Acquisition Records Three Points

Article excerpt

The line, Lee Stempniak suggested, remains very much a work in progress.

Hard to disagree, considering its time together still is being measured in minutes, not months.

But perhaps that's what should concern teams that will have to face the Penguins from now until the end of their playoff run, whenever that might be.

For as good as the line of Sidney Crosby between Chris Kunitz and Stempniak was in the Penguins' 5-1 victory Tuesday night against Dallas at Consol Energy Center, it has the potential to improve considerably as Stempniak settles in on the right side.

"It's a pretty dangerous line, with those two guys," said Stempniak, acquired from Calgary at the NHL trade deadline two weeks ago. "I'm just trying to fit in."

He certainly did against the Stars, contributing a goal and two assists as the Penguins (45-19-4) ended a two-game losing streak and maintained their spot five points behind first-place Boston in the Eastern Conference.

Stempniak's co-workers had pretty productive games, as well. Crosby chipped in two goals and an assist, while Kunitz -- back in the lineup after missing two games after his legs slammed into a goal post a week earlier -- had a goal and an assist.

"Our line felt like we had some good jump and were around pucks," Crosby said. "And got rewarded for it."

Kunitz has matched his single-season high of 61 points, and his 32 goals leave him just one behind Crosby for the team lead.

He said that, physically, he "felt pretty good" while logging 11 minutes, 51 seconds of ice time.

Kunitz was a lot better mentally, as well, than he had been while watching the Penguins get swept by Philadelphia in a home-and-home series this past weekend.

Those games, he said, were "extremely difficult" to watch.

Of course, his teammates didn't enjoying playing in them much, either, although rebounding with a strong game against the Stars likely removed a little of the sting.

"That's the way you respond from a tough weekend," Crosby said.

Rookie goalie Jeff Zatkoff, who stopped 19 of 20 shots after relieving Marc-Andre Fleury in a 4-3 loss Sunday at home, didn't have much bouncing back to do, but did turn in a strong showing. …

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