Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pens v Rangers (L 2-4)

I hate Sean Avery. (Yes, I hate him more than I hate Alexander Ovechkin - at least Ovechkin is tolerable as a human being off the ice.) I just wanted to say that and get it out of the way. Tonight's McDonald's Player of the Game is like the grade school bully that everyone wanted to punch in the face but didn't because no one wanted to get in trouble for it. The play between these two teams was physical and at times got kind of nasty, and Avery was to blame for the madness more than once.

The Penguins finally got to New York around 9:30 this morning after their plane was delayed last night. Colby Armstrong was back in the line up, and Marc-Andre Fleury was back in the pipes tonight. Early in the first period, Alain Nasreddine gave the Rangers a chance to score with a turnover, but MAF stood his ground. The Pens first good chance came from Petr Sykora took a shot. The rebound ended up right in front of Georges Laraque, but couldn't play it because he was tied up. Dan Girardi rang the puck off the post behind Fleury with a hard shot, but Fleury was able to scramble and cover the rebound. The top line of Evgeni Malkin, Crosby, and Ryan Malone was making waves. Henrik Lundqvist stopped a deflection by Sid. Later, Sid passed the puck to Malkin, but he missed it, which gave Petr Prucha a great chance. MAF made a great save to keep the Rangers scoreless.

Brooks Orpik and Sean Avery collide.

While Gary Roberts and Michal Rozsival were in the corner, Rozsival was badgering Roberts by using his stick to hit Roberts in the back and knock him down. Tempers were beginning to flair. Then Avery took a shot that was wide of the goal but bounced off the boards behind the net and right to Scott Gomez, who promptly scored. Rangers 1, Pens 0. Immediately afterwards, Sid drew a tripping penalty on Marcel Hossa. Erik Christensen had the best chance for a goal during the power play, but it didn't happen. The Pens would not score on the advantage. At one point, Malkin threw the puck through the paint to Sid, but Sid just could not get a shot on it. Just seconds later, Sergei Gonchar scored with an assist from Sidney - who increased his point streak to a career high 15 games. Rangers 1, Pens 1.

Colby Armstrong took a penalty for tripping, but just seconds later Avery took a penalty for interference. The resulting 4 on 4 would not produce a score for either team. Roberts earned two 2-minute penalties after an encounter with Avery. Avery was heading towards Roberts, who braced himself by getting his stick up high, and the two exchanged words. Roberts grabbed Avery and earned a roughing penalty for his trouble, in addition to the high sticking penalty he was originally assessed. Rozsival scored to negate the first penalty. Rangers 2, Pens 1. Avery had a great chance on the second penalty, but MAF shut the door. The first period ended with the Rangers ahead by a goal.

During the intermission, we learned that Penguins fans donated 3,793 pounds of food to the Score Against Hunger food drive, beating the record high of 2,293 pounds. To date, the Score Against Hunger food drive has collected 22,500 pounds of food and $18,200.00 in donations.

Sid jumps over Jordan Staal's brother, Marc, after trying to score.

The second period started very slowly. There wasn't a lot of action, and it seemed like there were a ton of whistles for offsides and icing. Finally, Avery got a penalty for roughing after he upended Army. Avery seemed genuinely shocked that the penalty was called on him since he took a stick in the face from Army, but upon seeing the play in slow motion on the replay, Army's stick came into Avery's face because Army was falling at the time. The Pens did not score on this chance, either. Jaromir Jagr had a really great chance when he charged hard and unchallenged with the puck to the front of Fleury, but MAF made a fantastic save. Just afterwards, Rozsival rang the puck hard off the post, and Maxime Talbot was called for interference. Avery took less than 15 seconds to capitalize on the power play. The Rangers were leading by 2 goals with a score of 1-3.

Paul Mara did his best Sean Avery impression when he started punching Christensen while they were battling for contol of the puck. The Pens would go on the power play, but would not score. Just after the power play ended, Roberts took yet another penalty, this time for interference. Fortunately, the Rangers did not score on their power play. Rob Scuderi took a penalty for interference, and with 1:16 left in the Rangers power play, Gonchar took a delay of game penalty for unintentionally popping the puck up into the protective netting. The Pens were able to kill both penalties. The second period ended with the Rangers (3) leading the Pens (1).

The third period began in a bad way. Malkin tried to pass the puck to Sid between his legs but ended up turning the puck over to the Rangers, and Brandon Dubinsky scored his first NHL goal. Immediately afterwards, Dubinsky took a penalty for tripping after he sent Mark Eaton down so hard that Eaton's stick went flying. Mark Recchi scored his second goal of the season on the ensuing power play. The score was now 2-4, in favor of the Rangers.

Blair Betts and Jordan Staal battle for control of the puck.

Later, Army finished a check on Rozsival, who left his gloves on the ice and skated back to the bench obviously in pain. The next couple of minutes were up and down. It was intense hockey played by both teams. The pace was so fast that Rozsival's gloves remained on the ice for about five minutes. The Rangers were taking a few liberties with the Penguins, but no penalties were called. That is, until Mara went to the box for holding Malone. During the ensuing power play, Lundqvist made the save of the day on a great shot by Sykora, and Lundqvist kept his cool while Sid tried to chop it into the net. Roberts got a fantastic chance to score, but his stick broke in half before he could shoot the puck.

Just after the power play ended, Dubinsky rang the puck off the goal post, and MAF was quick to cover the rebound. Later, Sykora accidentally hit Jordan Staal in the face with his stick as Sykora was trying to avoid contact with a Ranger. It looked as though Staal was cut underneath his left eye as a result. With less than 3 minutes left, Dubinsky almost gets another goal but only by the grace of God did that puck not cross that line. The Pens tried desperately to score again. They pulled MAF with 40 seconds left, but to no avail. The final score was Pens 2, Rangers 4.


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