I'll keep this one short, because a few themes persisted throughout the game:
- Ryan Malone was flying all night.
- Brooks Orpik was meaner than he's been the past few nights.
- Marc-Andre Fleury was sharp.
- The posts behind Marc-Andre Fleury were sharp.
- The Pens were making too many passes.
- The Rangers did a better job of controlling the puck.
- Scott Gomez and Chris Drury still don't fit in.
- Constantly mixing lines leads to too-many-men penalties. The Pens got another one tonight.
The critical time of the game was the first two minutes of the second period. With 1:58 of power play time to start, the Pens scored the only goal they'd need. Sidney Crosby, from the right point, to Ryan Whitney, sneaking up the left wing, to Evgeni Malkin to the right of the goal, for a quick flip behind Henrik Lundqvist. 1-0 Pens. 0:25 later, Jordan Staal gets a penalty shot, thanks to a thrown stick. Unfortunately, Staal went straight in and threw an easy wrister on the net that Lundqvist had all the way.
This was one of those nights where throwing the kitchen sink at a goaltender just builds his confidence. The Rangers out-shot the Penguins 36-22, and Fleury just got stronger as the game went on. Meanwhile, the combination of Malone, Staal, Jarkko Ruutu, and Adam Hall kept Jaromir Jagr frustrated all night. By the third period, Jagr was hanging his head at the end of every shift.
Final Score: Penguins 1, Rangers 0, Jagr boos per period: 12.
- Marc-Andre Fleury (36-save shutout)
- Evgeni Malkin (GWG)
- Brooks Orpik (Hits galore)
Sidney Crosby is just a little bit nuts.
How else could you describe this play, from early in the first period of this game? Sid skates through the neutral zone, gains the blue line, and find himself at the center of four Canadiens. So what does he do? He pushes the puck between the two Habs in front of him, jumps over their sticks, and fires a wrist shot at David Aebischer as he's landing. And scores.
It took most of the period for everybody to pick up their jaws. Except for the refs, who were calling this game far tighter than the last two Pens games.
I figure that Aebischer, by the end of the first, had lived down giving up that goal to Sid. Then he skated too far out of his net to make a clearing pass. The Pens were forechecking aggressively, and Erik Christensen was able to get to the puck along the left wing boards. He fired a wrist shot while Aebischer was still in the face-off circle, and the puck squeaked through the five-hole and drifted into the net. 2-0 Pens after one, and Aebischer spends the intermission looking for a hole to crawl into.
The second period belonged to Montreal's fearsome power play. First, Chris Higgins beat Marc-Andre Fleury to the post with a wrap-around. Then Sheldon Souray fired a howitzer from center point. The second ended 2-2.
The Penguins almost put this game away in the first five minutes of the third. First, Evgeni Malkin, cycling behind the net, found Christensen driving the net for a chip-in goal. Less than a minute later, Gary Roberts cleaned up the garbage from a Colby Armstrong wrap-around attempt. 4-2 Pens.
But the Pens couldn't stay out of the penalty box, which is very dangerous against the Habs. Mark Recchi got careless with his stick, and caught somebody in the face. On the ensuing power play, Saku Koivu and Andrei Markov connected for a picture-perfect back door goal. This is why two-goal leads suck.
After that, the refs put the whistles away, and the game opened up. On a three-on-two break, Michel Ouellet drove to the net, and Malkin's saucer pass was perfect. 5-3 Pens.
Crosby added his first career empty-net goal to cue Elvis' limo driver, and the Penguins pull ahead of Ottawa in their neck-and-neck race for the 4th seed in the playoffs.
Final Score: Penguins 6, Canadiens 3, Montreal's power play: 3 for 6. Don't take penalties against these guys. Just don't.
- Erik Christensen (2G)
- Evgeni Malkin (2A)
- Michel Ouellet (1G, 1A)
The overriding theme of the past few games has been "living and dying by overtime". The Penguins haven't been able to keep leads lately, and have been hanging on by their fingernails night after night.
Pens vs. Devils: 8 Mar 2007
Patrick Elias must have been scouting Marc-Andre Fleury in shoot-outs. Everybody else has been skating straight in and hoping that the deke or the quick release will beat him. Very few have succeeded. Elias had the last shot in the third round of a scoreless shoot-out. He swung wide right from the start, stayed out until he reached the face-off dot to Fleury's left, then skated laterally across the slot, waiting for Fleury to open his legs as he moved side-to-side. Elias beat Fleury five-hole to win the game.
Final Score: Devils 4, Penguins 3 (Devils win shoot-out 1-0)
- Sergei Brylin (1G from flat on his stomach)
- Evgeni Malkin (1G, 1A)
- Patrick Elias (1A, GW SOG)
Pens vs. Rangers: 10 Mar 2007
Another one of those early-afternoon matinée games, so the first was mostly– Oh, my God! Oh, my God! THAT'S LARAQUE'S MUSIC! The fight everybody has been looking forward to since the trading deadline finally came to pass: Georges Laraque vs. Colton Orr. Orr got a couple of rights in early, and both players were down and back up multiple times. Laraque ended things with an overhand left and a roar from the Mellon Arena faithful.
The Rangers jumped out to an early lead by wrapping two goals around the first intermission. Early in the third, Evgeni Malkin scored on a power play to wake the Pens up. Three minutes later, Sidney Crosby scored a huge power play goal. A Malkin shot hopped up in the air, and Crosby caught it at the post to the right of Henrik Lundqvist, set it down on his stick, and poked it into the net over Lundqvist's outstretched leg. Not only did it tie the game at 2-2, it was Crosby's 100th point of the season, making him the youngest player in NHL history with two 100-point seasons.
Then, for everything Crosby and Malkin did to tie the game, they weren't even on the bench for the end of it. They had both gone to the runway for equipment work during the break before overtime, and didn't make it back before play resumed. The game ended with everybody from both sides over-shifting. Maximum Talbot made a tremendous effort to hold the puck in the Rangers' zone, and found Colby Armstrong open at the right half-boards. Colby took the pass and flung a wrist shot at the net. The puck hit Marek Malik's stick and deflected over Lundqvist's shoulder and into the net. Crosby and Malkin had to join the celebration from the hallway.
Final Score: Penguins 3, Rangers 2 (OT)
- Evgeni Malkin (1G, 1A)
- Sidney Crosby (1G)
- Sergei Gonchar (2A)
Pens vs. Sabres: 13 Mar 2007
Party at Mario's house!
Who invited all these people from Buffalo? And why do their jerseys have hairpieces on the front?
I'm not sure I like the fact that we had to celebrate the signing of Plan B against a team that travels well. There was entirely too much "Let's Go Buff-a-lo!" last night. Ya know what? We were too damn happy to care!
The referees were intent on keeping their whistles in their pockets, which led to three periods of wild up-and-down action and a month's worth of highlight-reel saves. For all that, what little scoring there was in the first two periods came in bursts.
- Late in the first, Jason Pominville mucks a rebound behind Fleury. 1-0 Sabres.
- Less than a minute later, Ryan Malone tips a Gonchar slapper in the net. 1-1.
- Late in the second, Maximum Talbot gets the Cheapest Goal In NHL History, by flinging a pass across the slot, only for the puck to hit Ryan Miller's leg and deflect into the net. 2-1 Pens.
- Chris Drury finds Dmitri Kalinin with a pretty one-timer pass. 2-2.
It looked like Pittsburgh was going to finally bury a game early in the third. Crosby poked home a Mark Recchi rebound for a power play goal a little over one minute in to make it 3-2. Gonchar made it 4-2 with a booming slapshot with about ten minutes to go.
Have I mentioned that the Sabres have the best record in the Eastern Conference?
Just two minutes after Gonchar's goal, Daniel Briere and Jochen Hecht got a 2-on-1 break. Hecht made a beautiful saucer pass to Briere, who buried it. 4-3.
With Miller pulled, Recchi almost had an empty-net goal, but his shot was Wide Right. (Wide Right is a registered trademark of Long Suffering Buffalo Fans, Inc.) With the Pens' defense hanging on for dear life, Drury fought for a rebound and scored with seven seconds remaining to tie it at 4-4.
Overtime was a lot of up-and-down, with nothing to show for it. Shoot-out time. Again.
- The Specialist Erik Christensen dekes Miller to the ice, then uses the Forsberg Reach-Around to score. 1-0 Pens.
- Daniel Briere doesn't take Patrick Elias' advice, and tries the deke-o-rama. It dribbles wide. 1-0 Pens.
- Jarkko Ruutu finally gets his chance, and can't beat Miller with the forehand-backhand move. Ruutu can't beat Miller with the rebound either. Um, Jarkko? You're not allowed to try the rebound. But that's not Ruutu's job. His job is to get in people's kitchen. A linesman kept Ruutu from learning just how in Miller's kitchen he was.
- Drew Stafford didn't take Elias' advice, either, but damn, was that a wicked release! 1-1, and we need a brief time-out while somebody finds a fire extinguisher for Fleury.
- Sidney Crosby rubs his hands like a mad scientist. "Perfect. Ruutu has Miller so aggravated, he'll never expect the Forsberg Reach-Around twice in the same shoot-out!" Just to rub it in, Crosby went to the opposite side that Christensen did. 2-1 Pens.
- Thomas Vanek might have considered Elias' advice, but after watching Stafford, figured he'd try that instead. Fleury teaches Vanek the error of his ways.
Final Score: Penguins 5, Sabres 4 (Pens win shoot-out 2-1), number of Zamboni breakdowns: 2. One died in the first intermission and wasn't ready for the second. Of course, the other one died in the second, so we had an extra-long break because they barely got the ice done after getting one Zamboni back on its wheels.
- Sidney Crosby (1G, 2A, GW SOG)
- Ryan Whitney (3A)
- Daniel Briere (1G, 2A)
10 points between 4th and 11th in the East. 2 points between 1st and 3rd in the Southeast. Detroit and Nashville are neck-and-neck in the Central. 3 points between 1st and 3rd in the Northwest. Pittsburgh has pulled within 5 of New Jersey in the Atlantic. All you sports columnists who think it's cool to ignore the NHL until playoff time, get off your asses. The playoffs have already started!
Even teams that are a long way from the 8th seed, like Washington, are playing with playoff intensity, and we haven't even reached the trading deadline. Yesterday afternoon, the Pens and Caps played an aggressive, tight-checking game from beginning to end.
With a 1:00pm matinée at the Islanders today, Coach Therrien decided that yesterday would be his best opportunity to give Marc-Andre Fleury a rest, so Jocelyn Thibault got the nod.
It didn't take long for the Pens' power play to take advantage. Mark Recchi redirected a Sergei Gonchar slapshot from the center point to make it a 1-0 game after six minutes. Richard Zednik came back a minute later, getting the last touch on a pinball from above the left circle. Tied at 1's. The rest of the first was a lot of good defense, a nice series of saves by Thibault, and Alexander Ovechkin and Erik Christensen escalating the chippiness for a moment.
The Zamboni doors almost benefited the Pens in the second, when a dump-in clanked off the glass behind Brent Johnson, skipped off the crossbar, hit Johnson's shoulder pads, and jumped straight up in the air, where Johnson was able to glove it.
It looked like a stalemate until 18:44, when Michel Ouellet dumped a pass behind the net, where Evgeni Malkin picked it up, skated to the right circle, passed it back to Gonchar at the point. Gonchar quickly looked the scene over, couldn't find a shooting lane, and passed it back to Malkin, who was in that narrow strip of ice between the bottom of the face-off circle and the goal line. The odds of finding the inside of the net from such a sharp angle are slim to none. Never tell Evgeni Malkin the odds. Geno one-timed the pass, and Johnson totally mis-read the play, dropping into the butterfly on a rising shot when he should have stayed up and hugged the post. Over the shoulder, just inside the top left corner, nothing but net. 2-1 Pens. Malkin hijacks the Crosby vs. Ovechkin hype plane, and forces it to land in Havana.
The Pens got a much-needed insurance goal early in the third, on a wrist shot by Maxime Talbot. It looked like the Caps were going to collect when Alexander Semin was awarded a penalty shot. Thibault whiffed on an attempted poke-check, and was hung out to dry, but Semin's wrister clanked harmlessly off the crossbar. Semin got a small measure of revenge, rebounding a Matt Pettinger shot with the goalie pulled, but it was too little, too late.
Final Score: Penguins 3, Capitals 2, Ovie's score line: 0G, 0A, 0 PIM, -1.
- Evgeni Malkin
- Sergei Gonchar
- Alexander Semin
Ah, Valentine's Day. Romance is in the air, and Nikolai Khabibulin is in goal.
For any team, a big part of a long winning streak is pulling out a win when you're not at the top of your game. That's the situation the Pens found themselves in tonight. They just seemed to be a half-step behind Chicago for most of the game.
Not that the 'Hawks needed much hustle for their first goal. All they needed was a funny bounce off the Zamboni doors behind Marc-Andre Fleury, and Craig MacDonald on the spot. A dump-in becomes a shorthanded goal, and Fleury wishes for the umpteenth time that the Pens would shoot at that end twice.
Chicago's lead wouldn't last long. Two minutes later, Ronald Petrovicky took a pass in the high slot, waited for the screen from Jarkko Ruutu, and punched a half-slapper behind Khabibulin. Tied at 1's.
The second was more of the same: Chicago finding out that playing full-speed against a Pittsburgh team playing 9/10 is really an even match-up. But it's not really even when your goalie is giving up soft goals. First, during a penalty kill, Max Talbot picks up a loose puck at the point, with room to skate. He streaked through the neutral zone, swung wide right, cut around a Blackhawk at the goal line, skated to the front of the net, and found Khabibulin in a most unladylike position. Five-hole, short-handed, 2-1 Pens. With about five minutes left, Erik Christensen chipped a pass to Michel Ouellet, who ripped a wrist shot from the top of the right circle over Khabibulin's shoulder. 3-1 Pens.
Then the Pens' recent habit of giving up leads reared its ugly head. Patrick Sharp hung Fleury out to dry with under 2:00 left in the second to close to 3-2. Early in the third, Martin St. Pierre collected a rebound for a power play goal, and we're tied at 3's. Then the refs, who I found out in the post-game show were last minute substitutes, pretty much jobbed the Pens. As Denis Arkhipov was skating to the boards for a line change, Tuomo Ruutu (Jarkko's little brother) jumped on waaaaaay too early, took a pass from Martin Lapointe, and beat Fleury. 4-3 'Hawks, Michel Therrien is standing on top of the bench, screaming for a referee's attention, but they were too busy being screamed at by Sidney Crosby and Brooks Orpik.
Evgeni Malkin to the rescue! 1:10 after Ruutu's goal, Sid was stopped by Khabibulin, but Malkin poked the rebound in to tie it at 4's.
Overtime should have ended 15 seconds in. Martin Havlat took a cross-slot pass and chipped it into what looked like an open net. Fleury kicked his left skate out and stopped the puck, then sprawled out to cover it with his glove. Then overtime should have ended with 15 seconds left. Sidney Crosby was absolutely possessed on the Pens' last rush, fighting off defenders and driving the net over and over again. Chicago was saved by the bell, forcing the shootout.
- Christensen rang a wrist shot off the post and in. 1-0 Pens.
- Fleury gloved Havlat's backhand attempt. 1-0 Pens.
- Crosby finally scored in Philly with the old "grip it and rip it" technique. Khabibulin must have read the scouting report, and gloved it. 1-0 Pens.
- Bryan Smolinski decided that Havlat's move should have been foolproof, and tried it himself. Fleury wasn't fooled. 1-0 Pens.
- Malkin not only undressed Khabibulin, he had enough time to wash the uniform and hang it out on the line before sliding the backhand in. 2-0 Pens.
And thus, once again, the Penguins find a way to win.
I also found out from the post-game show why Alain Nasreddine was a scratch tonight: His son Alec was born today. 6 pounds, 6 ounces. How's that for a sign? Congratulations Ma and Pa Nasreddine!
Final Score: Penguins 5, Blackhawks 4 (Pens win shootout 2-0), tonight's attendance in all that snow and ice on the roads: 17,051!
- Evgeni Malkin (1G, 1SOG)
- Max Talbot (1G)
- Tuomo Ruutu (1G, 1 blown too many men on the ice call)
Puck drops. Sid drops.
Maxim Lapierre popped Sidney Crosby in the gut on the opening faceoff. You stay classy, Canadiens.
I don't have to tell you that things stayed nasty for the rest of the game. The refs were hard pressed to keep it all straight, so their calls were, to put it kindly, uneven.
The first was a lot of up-and-down action and good defense. The Pens opened the scoring late in the period, with Evgeni Malkin altering the trajectory of a Sergei Gonchar rocket. 1-0 Pens after one.
The second started out like the first, only harder and faster. Then, about four minutes in, all hell broke loose. Saku Koivu circled behind the Penguins' net at full speed, but he was too busy looking for somebody to pass to. He never saw the freight train coming. Colby Armstrong, skating full speed in the opposite direction, hammered Saku Koivu so hard, his brother Mikko must have felt it all the way out in Denver. While Saku was peeling himself off the ice, Sheldon Souray came to his defense. Unfortunately for the Habs, Souray's idea of having Koivu's back was to jump on Armstrong's back, driving Colby down to the ice, throwing punches all the way down. Souray got 2 for instigating, 5 for fighting, a 10 minute misconduct, and a game misconduct. Armstrong got an escort to the penalty box, but only to keep him out of harms way until Souray left the ice. The Pens got a seven minute power play.
The Penguins cycled well, but couldn't beat David Aebischer. Then Radek Bonk got called for interference, giving the Pens two full minutes of 5-on-3. Gonchar rips a slapshot behind Aebischer, 2-0 Pens. Then the Habs got a break. Bonk blocked a Gonchar shot out to center ice, outraced Alain Nasreddine to the puck, and fired a cruise missile over Marc-Andre Fleury's glove hand for a short-handed goal. 2-1. Gonchar got revenge with another blast from the point to finish off Souray's instigating minor to make it 3-1 Pens. Bonk got another goal at the end of the second. 3-2 Pens after two.
The third started out looking good. Erik Christensen almost scored on a wicked wrist shot from the left circle, but he hit the post, then almost beat Aebischer by taking a disgusted one-handed swing at the rebound as he turned to the bench for a line change. Two shifts later, Christensen finally scored with a wrister from the slot to make the score 4-2 Pens. Time for that defense first game that shut down the Panthers Tuesday night, right?
Maybe that works against Florida, but Montreal is a much better team. The Canadiens kept cranking up the intensity, putting the Penguins back on their heels. Just as it looked like the Pens might get a little momentum back, Montreal got two sucker punches in. First came a literal sucker punch, when Tomas Plekanec socked Nasreddine in the face, resulting in a power play for the Pens and a face-off to the right of Fleury. Then came the figurative sucker punch, as Montreal won the face-off, cycled the puck to the opposite point, and scored another short-handed goal, on a deflection by Mike Johnson. 4-3 Pens, and now the Mellon Arena faithful are sweating a little bit.
With the Penguins scrambling in their own end, Montreal tied the game on a fluky goal by Mathieu Dandenault. His centering pass bounced off Fleury and Rob Scuderi before trickling oh-so-slowly across the goal line.
Overtime. Montreal dominated early, then Koivu and Brooks Orpik got into a shoving match behind the Pens' net, and were called for offsetting minors. Good news: Orpik got Koivu off the ice. Bad news: Two minutes of mind-numbing defensive 3-on-3 play. I'm talking New Jersey vs. Minnesota, dueling neutral zone trap boring. Montreal got another power play late in OT, but Fleury stood tall to force the shootout.
- Christensen is a shootout specialist, and he didn't disappoint. 1-0 Pens.
- Alexei Kovalev's mullet dazzles Fleury. 1-1.
- Crosby scored a beautiful shootout goal against Montreal last year, so maybe — one move too many, the puck rolls off his stick and into the corner. Still 1-1.
- Christopher Higgins tests Fleury's glove side, and fails it. 1-1.
- Malkin says "Hey, Kovy, I don't need a mullet!" 2-1 Pens.
- Plekanec is Montreal's last chance, but he is no match for Fleury's Crouching Butterfly Style.
Final Score, Penguins 5, Canadiens 4 (Pens win shootout 2-1), Sheldon Souray's official PIM: 27.
- Sergei Gonchar (2G, 1A)
- Radek Bonk (2G)
- Evgeni Malkin (1G, 1A, SO GWG)
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…"
Goaltenders get the same feeling seeing a man in a Penguins sweater.
I've added some of them there "motion pictures" of these jaw-dropping goals I've been talking about. That YouTube/NHL deal was a (rare) masterstroke by Gary Bettman and the NHL top brass.
You can go back to the corresponding blog entries, or you can skip my questionable writing skills and click right through to the video collection.
In every hockey game, there are three teams on the ice: The home team, the visiting team, and the officials. Wednesday night, that was three sloppy teams on the ice.
At any given moment in the game, you could say that Team X was stinking the joint up. The only question was who and when.
Mark Recchi had his best game of the season so far. He opened the scoring with a classic sniper's goal, skating up the right wing and snapping a wrist shot top shelf over Brian Finley's glove. He also got the game-tying goal with :30 remaining in regulation, chipping in a backhander during a 6-on-4 power-play.
So why wasn't he one of the Pens' three shooters in the shootout?
Michel Therrien has made some odd choices in the shootout, and this night was one of them, as his three choices were Michel Ouellet, Evgeni Malkin, and Sergei Gonchar. Ouellet's been cold lately, but he's a finisher, so maybe a shootout goal would get him off the schneid. Malkin had a breakaway goal in the game, so he's a natural choice. But why, if given a choice between a hot Mark Recchi and a defenseman, would Therrien choose the defenseman? I just don't get it. Marco Sturm got the only shootout goal Boston needed.
Final Score: Bruins 4, Penguins 3 (SO), Number of people who said "Huh?" when they called Gonchar's name: 16,958.
- Patrice Bergeron (2A)
- Mark Recchi (2G)
- Evgeni Malkin (1G, 1A)