Merry Christmas, Penguins! So you got a bunch of one-way tickets to Kansas City, courtesy of a bunch of old men in Harrisburg, and a few pissed-off politicians under your tree.
Then, for Boxing Day, you got to face two white-hot goaltenders!
Seasons &^*%$&^%$# Greetings!
One night after helping Martin Brodeur take sole posession of third place on the all-time shutout list, the Pens had to face Kari Lehtonen and the Atlanta Thrashers. The good news is that we scored on Lehtonen. Erik Christensen bounced a rebound off the post and a bunch of Lehtonen's equipment for a power play goal in the first, and Ryan Whitney's third period wrist shot left a vapor trail on its way to the back of the net.
At the other end, Marc-Andre Fleury did everything he could, but was the victim of two perfectly executed plays and a fluke. In the second, Fleury was square to a Vitaly Vishnevski slapshot, but the puck hit a Penguin's stick and sailed just out of reach, and Niclas Havelid scored on a well-timed screen that left Fleury looking at nothing but the numbers on two players' backs. The game-winner for Atlanta came in the third, with a needle-threading tape-to-tape pass from Jon Sim somehow missing two Pens' sticks. Slava Kozlov chipped the puck just over the out-stretched leg of Fleury.
Back at the other end, the Pens were throwing everything but the kitchen sink at Lehtonen. And if they threw the kitchen sink, it would have hit the post, too. If the NHL ever decides to enlarge the nets, even by a little bit, the Pens will want to replay this game. They'd blow the Thrashers out. Instead…
Final Score: Thrashers 4, Penguins 2, Sidney Crosby's saving throw against Kari Lehtonen's accuracy debuff: natural 1
- Kari Lehtonen (35 of 37)
- Slava Kozlov (1G, 1A)
- Erik Christensen (1G)