First Posted: 1/12/2013
Brian Gibbons did it. So did Paul Thompson. The Penguins came into Saturday's game against Adirondack without six of their big guns. Eric Tangradi, Beau Bennett, Jayson Megna, Brian Strait, Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres all left for Pittsburgh's training camp. That meant somebody had to step up and fill the voids, particularly on offense. Thompson - who logged a ton of minutes skating in the first line with Trevor Smith and Riley Holzapfel, came up big with a first period power play goal. Gibbons did as well, using his speed to generate several scoring chances and ultimately set up the game-winner. it was pretty impressive. Here's how it went down: Gibbons gained the puck in the neutral zone and raced into the Phantoms end. With no one able to catch him, Gibbons hit the corner and put on the brakes. He held the puck and watched Bobby Farnham barrel through the slot with a defender on his back, then sent a perfect pass to Brian Dumoulin who was trailing the play wide open. Dumoulin shot the puck into the top right corner for the winner. As this stage, it isn't known who will come back from Pittsburgh and if they will clear waivers. But in the meantime, several players have proven they are ready to assume a greater role. There's a reason for that, said head coach John Hynes after the game. And it has to do with pride. We haven't had a lot of wins as of late and these guys want to make a run to get into the postseason, he said. So the committment level has risen. This is their team and they want to win. With two straights wins things are obviously going better for the Penguins, but not all is perfect. They managed only two goals against the Phantoms and now have only eight goals in the last seven games. They've allowed only nine goals in the same span, so that means all of the games have been tight. Narrow wins, and losses, seem to be the norm for the Penguins this season. If they want more of the former and less of the latter, they'll need players like Gibbons and Thompson to continue to play with the motivation of pride.