Monday, December 03, 2007

Pens v Coyotes (W 3-1)

MAX IS BACK, JACK!!! Thank GOD! After missing what seemed like 200 games (it was actually 5) with a high ankle sprain, Mad Max Talbot returned with a bang. He scored the first goal of the night with less than a minute to go in the first period. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Before the game even started, ex-Coyote Georges Laraque was asked by Dan Potash if knowing the Coyotes' system would be helpful to which Laraque replied, "Actually, they didn't have a system at all." Nice.

The first period started with Jordan Staal turning the puck over right in front of Marc-Andre Fleury, but he redeemed himself by poke checking the puck to make the save. Sid draws the night's first penalty against Derek Morris for holding. As the play is whistled down to penalize Morris, Keith Ballard was confronted by Colby Armstrong in response to an undercut that sent Army end over end. The Pens did not score on the power play. A couple of minutes later, Ballard retaliated by jamming the end of his stick into Army's face (throat?). Army knew that Ballard was going to be penalized and smartly didn't take the bait to fight. During the ensuing power play, Sid dropped a few F-bombs when play was stopped before Ilya Bryzgalov actually froze the puck. The Pens didn't capitalize on this power play. Later, bad puck handling gave Phoenix a few chances to score, but twice the puck was shot wide of the goal.

Then, Gary Roberts made a rush towards Bryzgalov with Tyler Kennedy. Roberts passed the puck to Kennedy, who got hauled down by Ed Jovanowski. With 30 seconds left to go in that penalty, Erik Christensen took a penalty for holding on Ballard. Neither team scored on their respective power plays. Just after the end of Crusher's penalty, Sid got control of the puck and raced towards Bryzgalov, but was challenged by a Coyote d-man and was unable to get a shot. Mark Eaton took a hard hit and went down in a heap. He was no worse for wear as he returned for his next shift. Ballard and Army mixed it up AGAIN, and Ballard went to the sin bin AGAIN. Laraque controlled the puck behind the net, two Coyotes players focused on him, which left Max open. Laraque passed the puck to Max, who just feathered it past Bryzgalov. The goal came literally as the penalty ended, so it was recorded as an even strength goal. The first period ended less than a minute later with the Pens leading 1-0.

Max brings it.

The second period started with Steven Reinprecht getting called for tripping Petr Sykora. The best scoring chance on this power play did not come from the Pens. Phoenix got a shorthanded chance, but luckily the puck rang off the goal post. The Pens didn't score on this power play. Later, Army had a great scoring chance, but he too rang it off the crossbar. Morris went to the box for slashing Evgeni Malkin. Army took a pass and had a wide open net, but Nick Boynton held Army's stick down with his own stick to prevent the shot. It was a nice defensive move - if you're a Coyotes fan! Once again, the Pens did not score on the advantage. Later, with tensions running a little high, Ballard, Morris, Army, Ryan Malone, and Sid were involved in a scrum in front of Bryzgalov. As a result, Coach Michel Therrien immediately put 250 pound Laraque back out on the ice prompting a loud approval from the fans at the Mellon Arena.

Geno, Roberts, Crusher, and Sykora all had some nice shots on goal, but Bryzgalov was able to stop them all. Kennedy had a great chance himself when he blasted a shot on goal that unfortunately hit the goal post. At the end of the second period, Pittsburgh get a delayed penalty. Bryzgalov left the ice, and the Coyotes were playing the puck in their own zone, when yet another Pens penalty was called. Finally after the Pens touched the puck and the play was stopped, we learned that Staal would be assessed a double minor for tripping. In the last seconds of the second period, Max made a rush for a shorthanded goal, but Bryzgalov stopped the shot.

The Great One looks a little peeved...

The third period started with Staal in the box for 2:46. Right off the opening faceoff and right in front of the official, Max took a high stick to the jaw courtesy of Martin Hanzal - a penalty that was not called. About a minute later, Shane Doan came in from the point to lift the puck up and over MAF's glove to tie the game at 1. Sidney and Colby were playing with spirit, but they just couldn't get a goal. Then the Penguins fourth line players started going nuts. Laraque was directly responsible for the Pens being able to control the puck in the Coyotes' zone for two full minutes. The Pens would do everything but score. The crowd was going wild, and finally, they drew a penalty sending Peter Mueller to the box. (Later, FSN Pittsburgh would show a fast motion clip of Laraque for those two minutes in about 20 seconds. Watching the Big Guy buzzing back and forth behind the net like a bee was quite entertaining!) The Pens did not score on this power play once again.

Then there was a whistle for two many men on the ice. BUT WAIT!!! This time it wasn't against the Pens! Phoenix had six men out, so they had to play for 2 minutes with four men. Sid faked a shot which drew Bryzgalov to his left side. Sid then quickly passed the puck to Kris Letang who promptly fires it past Bryzgalov to give the Pens the lead. Pens 2, Coyotes 1. Just a few minutes later, Staal passed the puck to Kennedy who was zigging and zagging up the ice. Kennedy fired the puck past Bryzgalov for an insurance goal. Pens 3, Coyotes 1. With less than 5 minutes left in the game, Boynton all but sealed his team's fate when he slashed, tripped, and punched Max just after the Pens were about to be called for a delayed penalty. Instead of having a Phoenix power play, it ended up being an even 5 on 5. (By the way, Boynton broke his stick on Max's arm during that mess!)

MAF says, "No goal for this guy!"

The Pens developed a 3 on 1, but Bryzgalov just wouldn't let Staal score. As the clock ticked down, Bryzgalov was pulled in favor of the extra attacker. MAF got control of the puck, and it looked as though he was going to try to get a goal of his own, but Ryan Whitney swooped in and took the puck from him before he had a chance. The clock expired, the Pens won, and it looked like the players might be teasing MAF a little bit about that missed opportunity while they were congratulating him on the win, which was MAF's 3rd in a row as well as Coach Therrien's 150th career win. Now, the Pens head out West for a Wednesday night game in Edmonton. That game doesn't start until 9:30pm Eastern, so there's a good chance I won't be able to recap that game. I'll be sure to post the Pens' website recap here if I can't do one of my own.


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