Saturday, December 15, 2007

Pens v Islanders (W 3-2)

The first period began with Gary Roberts almost scoring as he poked at the puck in front of Islanders' goalie Rick DiPietro. Just two minutes into the period, Tyler Kennedy took a shot that bounced off the cage just to DiPietro's right. DiPietro came way out of the crease to play the puck, but so did Marc-Andre Bergeron. DiPietro and Bergeron collided, and the puck went directly to the Saint. It was a "gimme." An unchallenged Sidney Crosby + wide open net = Penguins up by a goal. Actually, if Sid would have missed that shot, I would have shut this blog down. Just a few moments later, Petr Sykora almost scored, but DiPietro robbed him of the chance. Then Adam Hall almost scored on a redirect, but again DiPietro blocked the shot. Later, Ryan Whitney took a hard shot that rung off the goal post. Kennedy got control of the rebound, passed the puck to Brooks Orpik, who passed the puck to Whitney, who shot the puck between the legs of Brendan Witt and past DiPietro for the goal. Pens 2, Islanders 0. Immediately afterwards, Jordan Staal set up Roberts as they were thisclose to scoring.

Sid and Whitney celebrate a (temporary) 2-goal lead.

The night's first penalty went to Chris Simon for tripping. The Islanders almost cut the lead in half with a shorthanded rush, but Dany Sabourin was ready to stop the shot. The Pens didn't score on the power play. Later, Andy Sutton was given a delayed penalty for hitting Staal from behind. As the Pens controlled the puck during the moments after Sutton was called for the penalty, Sutton and Roberts were pushing back and forth on one another. Then, 32-year-old 6'6" 245lbs Sutton punched 41-year-old 6'2" 215lbs Roberts in the face. (You have to know what's coming...) They both immediately dropped their gloves and went at it. At first it looked like Roberts was going to get his ass handed to him. I don't know if Sutton tripped or if the punch from Roberts took him down, but Roberts ended the fight with Sutton on the ice huddled in the fetal position as Roberts continued to take out his rage on the downed behemoth. Sutton and Roberts were assessed for the fight, and the Pens went on the power play because of Sutton's original infraction. The Pens didn't score on the power play, though. The Islanders got their first power play of the night with less than 2 minutes left in the period when Sykora high sticked Mr. Hillary Duff Mike Comrie in the face. The first period ended with no Islanders score.

Sutton punches Roberts in the face.

The second period began with 15 seconds left on the penalty to Sykora, but the Islanders didn't get a power play goal. The Islanders must have had a good talk in the locker room, though, because they started to play with a little more fire. Rob Scuderi blocked a shot from Simon that resulted in an injury. As Scudsy limped around in front of Sabou, he blocked 2 more shots. He then took a penalty for cross checking before play finally stopped. He was escorted to the box but then was permitted to go to the Pens' locker room for treatment. Richard Park found the back of the net on the power play to cut the Pens' 2 goal lead in half. Only 45 seconds later, a 2-on-1 developed in favor of the Islanders. Miroslav Satan and Josef Vasicek were challenged by Orpik to no avail. Vasicek scored to make it a brand new hockey game. Pens 2, Islanders 2. Sid almost scored immediately after that, but DiPietro was on top of things that time.

The Saint

Then Sidney drew a penalty for the 35th time this season, this time on Islanders captain Bill Guerin for hooking Sid as he and Ryan Malone rushed the goal. The Pens again did not capitalize on the advantage. Later, Sid got involved in a scrum with Witt. Malone, Orpik, and Whitney all rushed to his aid as Vasicek bolted in to aid Witt. When the dust settled and Witt, Vasicek, and Whitney were all sent to their respective sin bins for roughing, the Pens ended up with the advantage. Staal made a beautiful play around Bruno Gervais to take a shot on DiPietro. The shot was blocked, but the rebound popped right out to Kennedy, who was waiting on the opposite side. He chipped it into the open net to put the Pens back in the lead with a power play goal. Pens 3, Islanders 2. (Notice that Kennedy has had a hand in all 3 goals so far.) Later, with 3 minutes left in the period, Sid was controlling the puck in front of DiPietro as he got hauled down by Radek Martinek. Martinek was given 2:00 for holding, but the Pens didn't increase their lead on this power play. It was about this time that we learned that Scudsy would not return to the game, having been the third Penguin to suffer an ankle injury (Maxime Talbot, Marc-Andre Fleury). The period ended with the Pens ahead by a goal.

Sid controls the puck.

The third period began with Roberts and Guerin colliding. Roberts went down hard but seemed to be no worse for wear. Malone made a nice play when he stole the puck and raced down the ice with Sid at his side. After a give and go with Sid, DiPietro robbed Malone of a goal. The Islanders had two good chances. The first came when Witt took a hard shot that Sabou somehow swallowed up with his glove despite being surrounded by Pens and Islanders. The second came when Guerin took a shot that Sabou blocked with his leg pads. Later, on a one-on-one, Sid fired a shot at DiPietro that appeared to go up and under DiPietro's mask and connect with his throat (OUCH!), but somehow he managed to stop Malone's shot on the rebound. Roberts and Staal almost scored for the Pens, and Vasicek and Bergeron almost scored for the Islanders, but each goalie made the saves.

DiPietro prevents Sid (trailed by Martinek) from scoring.

Then, with just over five minutes left in the period, Simon proved that he learned NOTHING from his 25 game suspension for his vicious attack on New York Rangers' Ryan Hollweg. As FSN Pittsburgh went to commercial, Jarrko Ruutu was shown down on the ice, obviously in pain, holding his leg as he lay just in front of the benches. When they finally came back, we learned that Simon stomped his foot down on the back of Ruutu's leg in a fit of rage. Thankfully, Ruutu was not seriously injured by Simon's latest vicious attack. It will be interesting to see how the NHL handles this incident. Simon obviously has anger and (more seriously) control issues that must be addressed before he ends up severely injuring someone. The incident with the stick across Hollweg's throat could have been catastrophic - some say even fatal - and Simon could have cut Ruutu's leg with the blade of his skate. Hopefully, Gary Bettman fines and suspends this asshat for another 25 games. His prior suspension obviously did not do a bit of good. There is no place in any sport for conduct like that. Simon was escorted back to the locker room and was assessed a five minute major for the infraction.

The Pens didn't score any goals during their power play. In fact, the Islanders came out with the desperation of a team trying to tie the game and force overtime despite the fact that they were down a man. At one point, Mike Sillinger got a shorthanded breakaway. Sabou fell backwards as Sillinger was bearing down on him, but Sillinger missed by shooting the puck way up and over the goal. Then, Sabou gave the puck away as he tried to clear it out of his zone. Instead, it went straight to Comrie, but Sabou was able to stop him from scoring. As the penalty ended, DiPietro went to the bench to give the Islanders a last ditch effort with a man advantage. Play was stopped, and with 19.5 seconds left on the clock, the Islanders called a time out. The Pens got control of the puck off the face off, but were unable to get it to the empty net. The clock ticked down, and the Pens won the game. The Pens go back to the state of New York on Tuesday to face the Rangers at 7:00pm Eastern.

(I'll post a picture of the Ruutu/Simon incident once one becomes available.)


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