Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pens v Leafs (L 2-5)

Before I get to the recap, I just want to start with a HUGE thank you to each of you for all of your kind words on my last post. You have no idea how much I appreciate what you said. I love writing for TSCS, and I think it is incredible that you guys like it so much. :)

All right, I'm doing this a little differently tonight. I'm going to recap in between periods so that our Friends from can get their recap fixes ASAP, since Adam and Derek have a game of their own to play tonight. The first period started a little differently than we're used to: Coach Michel Therrien decided to start the Pens' second line of Ryan Malone, Jordan Staal, and Adam Hall against the Leafs' top line. The first real scoring chance for the Pens was definitely a "DAMN IT!" moment. Sergei Gonchar sent the puck perfectly through the blue paint to Mark Recchi, but the Wreckin' Ball had his back turned to be in position for a redirect and didn't get turned around in time to see the puck coming. A tenth of a second difference there and it would have been a goal. The Pens got the first chance at a man advantage when Chad Kilger got penalized. The Pens were unable to capitalize on it. Later, Andy Wozniewski took a shot on the outside of Marc-Andre Fleury, but fortunately for us, the goal post shut him down. Recchi showed some spirited play when he crashed into Pavel Kubina, which resulted in a scoring chance for the Pens, but Vesa Toskala made the save.

The worst play of the day (so far) goes to Ryan Whitney, for missing a pass that resulted in a near-breakaway by the Leafs, but Fleury anticipated the play and made on of the best saves I've seen him make this season so far. (The work he's been doing with Gilles Meloche is really paying off.) Sid had a good chance to score, but his shot went high and wide. Just a few minutes later, however, Evgeni Malkin shot the puck and Toskala blocked it but was unable to control the rebound. Sidney made him pay for that by taking a page from the Gary Roberts book of goalscoring and banging away 3 times until on the third poke, the puck squirted past Toskala. On the very next play, Maxime Talbot took a penalty. The Leafs tried and failed to score on the power play. Then something very, very bad happened. Max was skating full on to negate an icing call, lost his footing, and plowed face first into the red rim of the boards. He went down bracing his head. The trainer came out with smelling salts, and after a few tense minutes, Max got up and skated out towards the locker room. The period ended with the Pens leading by one.

Geno tries to score.

Max returned to the ice briefly before the second period began, but changed his mind and did not play in the second. After the period started, Roberts was on his way to the goal, but was taken down by Wozniewski, who immediately dropped his stick and avoided the penalty. On the next play, Roberts tried to exact his revenge and by attempting to kill Wozniewski with a big hit. Luckily for Wozniewski, Roberts just missed. The highlight of the second was when Mats Sundin had possession of the puck and seemingly out of nowhere Malkin swooped in after leaving the bench and stripped Sundin of the puck. Geno took a shot, and the rebound was corralled by Sid who passed it to Recchi, but Toskala was able to stop all shots.

Sidney drew a penalty for the tenth time this season on Matt Stajan. Nik Antropov and Sundin got a two on one chance against Whitney, but Fleury absorbed their efforts. The Leafs began taking liberties with the Pens. Malkin was taken down, and Kilger interfered with Roberts, but no penalties were called. Finally, Antropov was called for holding on Erik Christensen. The Pens had four seconds of 5 on 3. No score was earned on either power play. Just as Antropov left the box, he got possession and charged to the goal with Alex Steen at his side. Antropov passed the puck, and Steen scored. The score was even at one, and would remain even all the way through the end of the second.

The puck flies over Sidney and Devereaux.

The third began unassumingly enough, but the Leafs must have had a good talk in the locker room during intermission because they were able to score two goals within 25 seconds of one another. The first was scored by Steen from the point through a screen in front of Fleury; the second was Jiri Tlusty's first NHL goal, earned with a little help from Kubina as well as Toskala. Later, Malkin took a hooking penalty which afforded Tlusty another opportunity to score. The score was now 1-4. And before I was able to finish typing that sentence, a turnover to Boyd Devereaux ended up costing the Penguins. He scored an unassisted goal 33 seconds after Tlusty's goal to make the score 1-5.

The Leafs ended up taking another penalty (Simon Gamache for holding on Hall) during which Kubina was assessed a penalty for delay of game for popping the puck over the glass. The Pens had 32 seconds of 5 on 3. Gonchar capitalized with a one timer from a feed from Crosby to make the score 2-5. The Pens had another minute and a half of power play time, but did not score. Then Jason Blake hit Mark Eaton from behind, and the Pens went to work on another power play with just about 2 and a half minutes left in the game. But it would not matter. The final score was 2-5. Pens lose. But don't worry, we knew they weren't going to win them all. The next game is on Saturday at 7:00pm (Eastern) against the Canadiens. If you can, tune in - it will be very interesting.


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