Monday, November 12, 2007

Pens v Devils (L 2-3)

I bring you this recap on the eve of my birthday. (For those of you reading this on Tuesday, it is now my birthday.) Yes, years ending in 7 roll the old age odometer for both Sidney and me, although he currently has but 2/3 of the mileage that I have. :P Anyhoo, the Penguins faced the Devils tonight at the Mellon Arena, and the details follow.

Oh, yeah. It's going to be one of THOSE nights...

Jeff Jimerson started this Veteran's Day game off with the National Anthem, who was accompanied by a group of military members from the local high school ROTC. After that, things kind of went downhill. It was the night of the backup goalies as Dany Sabourin and Kevin Weekes were in the pipes. Early on, Evgeni Malkin sacrificed his left ear to stop Zach Parise from getting a shot after Ryan Whitney fanned on the attempt to clear the puck. He was no worse for wear, though, as he returned to the ice for his next shift with no ill effects. Less than a minute into the period, Mark Recchi took a penalty for slashing. The penalty killers did their jobs - the Devils didn't even get one shot during the power play. Later, there was turnover after turnover in neutral ice for what felt like half an hour (it was really around 2 minutes or so), but ultimately the Devils got possession and, after cycling the puck, Travis Zajac found Sabu's five hole. Devils 1, Pens 0. Georges Laraque got the first good chance for the Pens with a backhander, but Weekes blocked the shot. After the play was whistled down, Jarrko Ruutu made the "blah, blah, blah" hand gesture to each Devil as he skated past the bench. (If I find that on YouTube, I'll post it - it's hilarious.)

The Pens got another chance when Malkin made a beautiful pass to set up Jordan Staal, but Staal wasn't ready for it. The puck went off the heel of his stick. The Pens were able to keep possession of the puck for several minutes after that (the crowd was going nuts), but the Devils finally got possession and drew a penalty when Erik Christensen was called for hooking. Parise made the Pens pay by earning his 50th career goal. Devils 2, Pens 0. Later, Recchi made a nice pass behind his back to Darryl Sydor, who then promptly made a hard slapshot that Weekes blocked. Andy Greene interfered with Sergei Gonchar, who went somersaulting down the ice towards Weekes, but the referees did not make a call on it. Malkin tried to go up top on Weekes but was denied. Then, Ruutu made a HUGE hit on Dainius Zubrus, sending Zubrus over the wall and into the laps of his teammates on the Devils bench. As expected, the home crowd voiced their approval. Ruutu, Laraque, and Maxime Talbot had a great shift. With less than 2 minutes left in the period, they drew a penalty on Vitaly Vishnevski. Gonchar and Petr Sykora each had a ton of shots, but Weekes stopped them all. The first period ended with the Devils up by 2.

Ruutu battles for the puck.

The second period began with a few seconds left in the Vishnevski penalty, but the Pens didn't score on the advantage. However, less than 1 minute into the period, after a give and go between Ryan Malone and the Saint, Sidney cut in front of Weekes and scored with a backhander. Devils 2, Penguins 1. By the way, this continues his point streak with a career high of 17 games. Laraque took a penalty for slashing, and just as the Pens successfully killed the penalty and Laraque returned to the ice, Gonchar was called for hooking. Then, with 24 seconds left on Gonchar's penalty, Brooks Orpik was called for hooking. The Devils had almost half a minute of 5 on 3. Gonchar's penalty expired, and Malone got a great shorthanded chance, but Weekes stood him up. The Pens managed to kill all three consecutive penalties.

Ruutu and Laraque work hard but just can't score.

Later though, Gary Roberts got his feet caught up in Greene's feet in front of Weekes. He fell on top of Weekes and was assessed a penalty for goaltender interference. It was a bad call, as Roberts did what he could to avoid Weekes, but it wouldn't matter. The Pens killed this penalty, too. The best chance the Devils had this period was when Sergei Brylin fired a shot up and over Sabu, but the puck rang of the crossbar. During the last two minutes of the period, the Devils were getting chance after chance, but Sabu managed to keep the Pens within one goal with a series of BIG saves. The second period ended with the Devils (2) leading the Pens (1) by one.

Malone tries to score, but Weekes won't let him.

The third period began with a lot of end to end play. Patrik Elias got called for hooking Sykora, but the Pens didn't capitalize on the power play. A few minutes later, Recchi drew a penalty on Zajac for hooking. Sid passed the puck to Malkin; Malkin passed the puck to Gonchar; Gonchar passed the puck to Malkin; Malkin scored on the one timer. The score was tied at 2. Malkin was named the McDonald's Player of the Game, and Malkin's own point streak increased to 11 games. With just over 5 minutes left in the game, Laraque threw the puck in front of the goal, but there were no Penguins there. Brian Gionta got control of the puck and carried it down towards Sabu for a 3 on 2. He passed the puck to Patrik Elias, who promptly scored. Devils 3, Penguins 2. There was an issue near the end when Zubrus crashed into Sabu (headbutted him almost) trying to get the puck, which was sitting just outside of the goal line, into the back of the net. The War Room was called, but it was obviously no goal. There were less than 30 seconds left in the game. The Devils made it difficult for the Pens to pull the Sabu, and the period ended. The final score was Devils 3, Penguins 2.

The Pens have now lost four in a row. The only thing that will get me out of this funk will be if my husband acknowledges my birthday tomorrow with expensive jewelry. ;) The Pens next face the Islanders on Thursday at the Mellon Arena.


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