Not for lack of effort tonight.
Maddeningly inconsistent quality of play, but the Pens were always working hard. This was one of those games where the winner would be the team that didn't make the last mistake. That last mistake was a Dominic Moore penalty, leading to an Olli Jokinen power play goal with about 5:00 left in the third. Moore must have done something to aggravate the refs, because he couldn't give a Panther a dirty look without drawing a call tonight.
I had a bad feeling about tonight during the Pens' introductions. Around Thanksgiving, they switched from having the PA announcer make the introductions to prerecorded video clips of the players introducing themselves and their hometowns. Kinda like Sunday Night Football, only without anybody saying "the Ohio State University". Apparently, they didn't have one for Jocelyn Thibault, who was starting in relief of Marc-Andre Fleury. Instead of having John Barbaro announce his name, they just skipped Thibault entirely! Damn, how much bad karma can you call down seconds before the opening face-off?
But we were treated to a little oneupsmanship between Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Remember Malkin's "I'll split the defense, skate in too deep, turn to the backhand, and pants Martin Brodeur" goal? Crosby said "I'll see that, and raise you 'lost an edge after splitting the D, and wristed it around Alex Auld from my ass.'" That goal tied the game at 2-2, and sparked one of many Penguin rallies that failed to generate a goal. Like I said, not for lack of effort. Auld should have been one of the three stars.
Final score: Panthers 3, Penguins 2, In goal: Number 41, Jocelyn Thiiiiiiiii-bauuuuuuuuult!
- Olli Jokinen (GWG, 1A)
- Sidney Crosby (1G, 1A)
- Gary Roberts (1G, 1A)