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Penguins goaltender fueled December closes with another victory

January 1, 2019, 11:44 AM ET [36 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Pittsburgh closed out 2018 with another victory. They defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-2 and closed out an impressive December where they went 11-3-1 and are on a six game winning streak. Pittsburgh is up to third place in the division, but despite the great month of December they are still only two points above the Islanders who are the second wild card team and two points ahead of the Boston Bruins who are currently out of the playoffs. Needless to say the winning streak was imperative with how tight the standings are.

The Penguins success correlates with the play of Matt Murray and Casey DeSmith. Here’s how the month of December looked in all situations

You are going to win a lot of hockey games with goaltending like that. It’s the best cure all the sport has to offer. They led the NHL in save percentage in December at 5v5 with a .944 mark.

Let’s take a look at how the month of December looked as far as the team in front of the goaltenders

It has been a mixed bag. Black bars are xGF% games above 50% and yellow bars are below 50%. Overall for the month of December the Penguins were a 48.96 xGF% team. They were the 19th ranked team in December. The wins were/are great, but there is still work to be done to make sure the team isn’t totally dependent on their goalies

Jake Guentzel always circles the Penguins visit to Minnesota given that is where he grew up, but it was another Penguins player with Minnesota ties that stole the show. That player was former Minnesota Gopher, Phil Kessel. Phil finished the game with a goal and two assists. He factored in on all three Penguins goals. His assist to Crosby was a fantastic feed.

Phil Kessel is a… properly rated passer. He’s terrific.

Pittsburgh will face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night to kick off 2019.

Thanks for reading!
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