Pens vs. Maple Leafs: 29 Dec 2006

Tonight's magic word is energy.

As usual, Leafs fans who can't get a sniff of tickets at Air Canada Centre invaded Mellon Arena. It wasn't quite as bad as last year, when it looked like a dimensional rift somehow exchanged entire sections of the Igloo and the ACC. Tonight was on par with the usual Philly crowds, except we're not getting the usual Philly crowds this year on account of they suck.

I think the players picked up on the dueling chants of "Lets Go Pens!" and "Go Leafs Go!", because the tempo started fast and never let up. Lots of back-and-forth rushes, everybody was finishing their checks with authority, and a great fight between Ben Ondrus and Jarkko Ruutu.

What did the Leafs in was penalties. The Pens went 3-for-10 on the power play, with goals by Erik Christensen, Sergei Gonchar, and Evgeni Malkin. Mats Sundin got the Leafs only goal, collecting a rebound on an odd-man break. Jordan Staal closed the scoring with some aggressive forechecking, stealing the puck from Bryan McCabe behind the net, curling to the front, and stuffing it behind ex-Penguin Jean-Sebastien Aubin.

Unfortunately, I had to wait until I got home to see most of the replays. At some point Wednesday night, one of the jumbotrons visible from my seat died, leaving 3/4 of the screen dark. Tonight, that screen was still mostly dead, and the other screen visible from my seat slowly died before our eyes. From the start, a small patch in one corner was dark. Then, in the 2nd period, a Toronto defenseman's attempt at clearing the zone with a high flip arced so high in the air, the puck hit the jumbotron! For the rest of the game, we watched that screen degrade from an odd-colored patch around the point of impact, to something that looked like a broken LCD TV from wiihaveaproblem.com, to going 3/4 dark, just like the other screen. I'm starting to worry about these Toronto games. The Leafs were our opponent during the infamous double power failure game last season, and now this. What's going to break next? My money's on a Zamboni dumping its crankcase all over the center-ice faceoff circle.

Final Score: Penguins 4, Maple Leafs 1, "For Sale" signs stolen from ill-informed Leafs fans and torn up by a guy in my section: 2. (Don't worry, the Leafs fans were good sports!)

Three Stars:

  1. Marc-Andre Fleury (30 for 31)
  2. Sergei Gonchar (1G, 1A)
  3. Sidney Crosby (3A)

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