Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pens v Senators (L 1-4)

Before we talk about tonight's game, I wanted to make sure I mentioned that Sid won the Lou Marsh Award, which is given to Canada's top athlete. He's the first hockey player to win it since 1993 - when he would have been six years old! And here's a story about Sid from back when he won the scoring title at the World Championship in Latvia in 2006. Thanks to Friends of The Show Georganne for the first link and Joeri L. for the second link. :)

Geno tries to hang on to the puck.

Tonight the Pens hosted the Ottawa Senators. Three minutes into the first period, Big Georges Laraque did the man dance with Brian McGrattan - which lasted all of 4 punches in 3 seconds. Later, Evgeni Malkin made a great play. He stole the puck and rushed on goal with Petr Sykora and Jarrko Ruutu. Geno passed the puck to Sykora, but his shot was blocked by a great save by Senators goaltender Martin Gerber. The Senators took the puck the other way, and Malkin was there to make a save when he swept the puck out from in front of the open net. The first penalty of the night went to Antoine Vermette for hooking. Both Gary Roberts and Sidney had some good shots during the power play, but Gerber didn't give up any goals. A few minutes later, Phillips was called for hooking. Again, Sid had a few chances, but the Pens did not score on this power play. Jordan Staal had a great chance just a few minutes later with a backhand shot, but Gerber said NO.

With 4 minutes left in the period, Sid was barreling down towards Gerber with Wade Redden hot on his trail. He took a shot, but Gerber stood his ground and made the save. Later, Crosby made a sweet pass between his own legs to Colby Armstrong as a two on one developed. Phillips got down low and wide in front of Gerber as Army took the shot. Unfortunately, Sid's end of the net was wide open. Sid looked very frustrated, as the Pens have had some really good chances so far but haven't been able to crack Gerber. Sid had another good chance when the period was ending (there were 17 seconds left), but Gerber made the save - AGAIN. The period ended with both teams scoreless.

Sidney high-sticks Corvo.

At the start of the second period, Bob Errey and Paul Steigerwald were discussing what players in the NHL could be considered a fair match for Big Georges. The names of two NHL giants were mentioned: the Minnesota Wild's Derek Boogaard and the Boston Bruins' Zdeno Chara. I think the Earth would leave its axis if Chara and Laraque ever tangled. Anyways, the Senators got a pair of good chances. Joe Corvo took a hard shot from the blue line that Dany Sabourin was able to block. Sabou couldn't control the rebound, which went straight to Mike Fisher. Sabou was alert and stopped his shot, too. Just after, the Senators' captain Daniel Alfredsson got a good shot off, despite being completely surrounded by Penguins, but Sabou absorbed the shot.

About nine minutes in, the Penguins and the Senators traded possession of the puck following a series of back and forth turnovers. On the last turnover, however, Sidney took control and burst down the ice on a breakaway. He made a beautiful shot, but Gerber made a prettier save. Sid smacked his stick against the boards out of frustration. Then the Pens got a power play after Nick Foligno was called for high sticking Rob Scuderi. During the power play, Sergei Gonchar shot a one-timer from the point that hit Sidney in the left skate. Sid dropped to the ice like a stone, got back up about 2 seconds later, and made his way back to the bench, where he was clearly in pain. The penalty ended without the Pens getting a goal. To my relief, Sid came back out for his next shift. Vermette had a chance for the Sens, but Sabou made the save.

Later, Malkin got the puck and slipped right past Corvo at the blue line, took a hard shot, and Gerber made the save but couldn't control the rebound. Tyler Kennedy was there to take advantage of the open net giving the Pens the first goal of the night. Just minutes later, Dany Heatley blasted a wicked one-timer that was just a fraction of a second faster than Sabou to tie the game at one. The Pens almost got it back immediately, but Ruutu just couldn't get his stick on the puck. Then, with just over a minute to go in the period, Sid tried to split the Ottawa defense, but he ended up high sticking Corvo. The second period ended with a 1-1 tie.

Sid and Meszaros battle along the boards.

The third period started with Sid in the box for 51 seconds. Staal took the puck and almost got himself a shorthanded goal, but Gerber didn't allow it. Then, as the penalty ended, Alfredsson made a bad decision to pass the puck and Sid gained possession as he burst out of the box. He had a breakaway chance and was ONCE AGAIN stopped in his tracks by Gerber. Later, Gonchar took a delayed penalty for hooking, so Gerber was making his way off the ice in favor of the extra attacker. As he did, the puck started going straight for the empty net, but unfortunately for us, Gerber was paying attention and prevented the puck from going into the net. Heatley took some liberties with Sidney which weren't called by the ref (who was standing right there). To make matters worse, Jason Spezza scored on this power play off a rebound. Senators 2, Pens 1. During the next few minutes, Kennedy turned it up a notch and did everything but score.

Kennedy and Sidney together started flying around, but neither one of them could beat Gerber. The Pens' fate was sealed when Sykora took a penalty for cross-checking after he hit Andrej Meszaros from behind. A shot from the point hit the goal post behind Sabou, and either Spezza or Heatley poked the rebound over the goal line. Heatley has the credit right now as I post this, but it was very difficult to tell which player scored that goal. Sens 3, Pens 1. Roberts and Staal worked together to try to get that goal back, but Gerber shut them down. (Are you starting to see a pattern here?) A 3-on-1 developed in favor of the Sens, but the 1 player they were working against was Mark Eaton, who got a stick on the centering pass to break up the play. As the last minute ticked off the clock, the Pens pulled Sabou in favor of the extra attacker. Spezza got control of the puck and easily sent the puck down into the back of the empty net. The game ended with the Senators with 4 goals and the Pens with 1.

Gerber was the star tonight - he practically won the game for the Senators singlehandedly.

The Penguins were CLEARLY the better team tonight, but Gerber was incredible. He was virtually impenetrable. He carried the Senators, and without him, the score would have been more like Pens 7, Sens 2. But that's not how it worked out tonight. I think it should be mentioned that Sabou didn't play poorly tonight, either. Sid had 9 shots on goal tonight, tying his career high from a game against Nashville in 2006. Next up for the Pens: The New York Islanders on Saturday.


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