Now that was some old-time hockey!
I had a feeling things were going to be interesting tonight when I noticed the large number of Ontario license plates in my usual parking garage. I said to myself, "Self, them hosers are making a weekend of this." Looked in the window of Christos: Blue and white jerseys everywhere. Olive Or Twist: More Leafs fans. Six Penn Kitchen… not so much. (Guess the symphony crowd had all of the reservations.)
Needless to say, things were loud and rowdy in the Igloo tonight. Favorite sign:
Next indication that things were gonna be interesting: five guys dressed in superhero costumes in B27. Superman, The Hulk, The Flash, Spider-man, and Wolverine. I don't mean to dis on Toronto fans, but in five years of being a Penguins season ticket holder, I've never seen anybody in a superhero costume at a game before, so I'm guessing They Are Canadian.
Next hint: Jarkko Ruutu scored a goal! On a penalty shot, no less. Not a cheap one, either. Faked Andrew Raycroft onto Bigelow Boulevard with a forehand move, then tucked it in backhand. Friday morning, Tim Benz was talking to post-game radio host Bob Grove. Bob said that a caller after Thursday night's shootout loss in Boston found an interesting statistic: Ruutu was 2-for-4 on shootout attempts last year with Vancouver. (Michel Therrien sent Sergei Gonchar over the boards again Thursday night. WTF?)
For the first two periods, it was just a lot of up-and-down action, with the Pens converting on far more of their opportunities. Jeff O'Neill scored an early power play goal, then Jordan Staal tipped in a pass from Evgeni Malkin to even it up less than two minutes later.
Then Toronto's penalty problems started again. First came Ruutu's penalty shot goal, about halfway through the first. To finish the first, Mark Recchi redirected a Ryan Whitney shot for a power play goal.
The second period was the Crosby & Recchi Power Play Revue. First, Crosby takes a pass from Gonchar at the top of the right circle, skates a big arc across both points, casts an area-of-effect mesmerize spell on the Leafs' penalty killers, reaches the left half-boards, and feeds a perfect one-timer pass to Recchi, who is criminally undefended in the slot. Three minutes later, that same combo does it again, tic-tac-toe style. Recchi gets a natural hat trick, putting him just two goals away from 500 for his NHL career.
Then, in the third, the wheels fell off Toronto's cart, starting with Jean-Sebastien Aubin replacing Raycroft.
Travis Green got whistled for hooking, and Jeff O'Neill must have said something awful about a referee's mother, because he got 2 and 10 for unsportsmanlike conduct. Crosby scored on the ensuing 5-on-3, turning a rout into a laugher, and the Leafs completely lost their cool. Here's a breakdown of the rest of the third:
- 5:22 — Bryan McCabe and Chris Thorburn, 5 each for fighting (Very few punches thrown before Thorburn wrestled McCabe to the ice)
- 6:04 — Maxime Talbot, 2 for hooking
- 6:42 — Nik Antropov, 2 for hooking
- 6:55 — Michel Ouellet, 2 for hooking
- 10:52 — Hal Gill, 2 for roughing (where "roughing" == "bending Ruutu over the boards at the Pens bench and demanding that he smell Colby Armstrong's skates")
- 11:08 — Power play goal by Ouellet
- 12:15 — Gill and Thorburn, 5 each for fighting (Thorburn wins another wrestling match)
- 12:51 — Ouellet, 2 for hooking
- 13:44 — Power play goal by Brendan Bell (really an own goal, deflected in by Whitney)
- 14:36 — Goal by Ryan Malone
- 15:08 — Antropov, 2 for interference; McCabe, 2 for roughing and 10; Brooks Orpik, 4 for roughing and 10 (really for skating in from somewhere around Harmarville to hit McCabe during the scrum after Antropov's call)
- 15:11 (yes, three seconds after the ensuing faceoff) — Maxime Talbot and Green, 5 for fighting (Green must have caught a glimpse of Mad Max's eyes, and turtled); Wade Belak, 5 and a game for spearing somebody away from the fight. (I didn't see who, and I haven't found a box score that lists a victim)
- 18:57 — Ruutu, 2 for hooking (as the Pens were trying to not run up the score by, among other things, putting Jarkko Ruutu on a power play unit. I kid, I kid! Ruutu was flying tonight.)
Meanwhile, I think I saw the cops in the stands more often than the Pens Patrol, as frustrated, drunken Leafs fans clashed with gloating, drunken Pens fans throughout the third.
Some of the more humorous things yelled in my earshot:
Crosby, you're a traitor! Go back to Russia!
Toronto fans: KAN-sas CI-ty! KAN-sas CI-ty! Kan-sas… feh.
Pens fan: Wow, I didn't know there were that many Royals fans in Canada!
Anybody want to bet on the guy in the Flash costume being the slowest runner?
So, to sum up, we had a penalty shot, a natural hat trick, three fights, multiple altercations in the crowd, two failed attempts to start a "KAN-sas CI-ty" chant, two successful "SIX-ty SEV-en" chants, no waves, five guys in superhero costumes, and Evgeni Malkin racking up five assists about as quietly as one can have a five-point night in the National Hockey League.
God, I love this game!
Final Score, Penguins 8, Maple Leafs 2, time of the first F-bomb from one of the louder Leafs fans behind me: 16:22 of the third. (Admirable restraint, I must say.)
- Mark Recchi (3G, 1A)
- Evgeni Malkin (5A)
- Sidney Crosby (1G, 2A)
Postscript: This morning at church, Rev. Ramsey opened the service with an apology and a huge smile: "If my voice sounds a bit low and hoarse, I apologize. I was at the hockey game last night…"