Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pens v Devils (W 2-4)

BIG SHOCKER: Coach Michel Therrien likes to change up the lines. Okay, I know - that's not exactly a newsflash. What is big news is that tonight, Pens' defenseman Brooks Orpik was moved to the fourth line - as the left winger. WOW.

To be perfectly honest with you, the first period was relatively uneventful. That is, until halfway through when Jordan Staal took a penalty for high sticking. Evgeni Malkin was out on the penalty kill. Ty Conklin made the initial save on a Devils shot, but he ended up lying on his stomach on the blue paint but not on the puck. Somehow Mike Rupp found a way to pop it up and over Conks to give the Devils the first score of the night. [Pens 0, Devils 1] Later, Kris Letang took a puck to his face. He fell down like he'd been shot (which is probably what it felt like) only to get back up and keep playing. He played for a good thirty seconds at least until the play was whistled down. As FSN Pittsburgh went to commercial, Letang was shown closeup. He was bleeding from his upper lip. He went down the runway to get stitches (and would return for the second period). This is why hockey players > me. If I got stitches, I'm pretty sure I would need at least a week to recover. GEEZ!

Rupp scored both Devils goals.

Just before the 2 minute mark, Jarrko Ruutu took a penalty for interference. The Devils did not score on their power play. With less than 5 seconds left in the first period, Patrik Elias took a shot that was blocked only by the goal post. The first period ended with the Devils up by a goal.

Less than two minutes into the second period, Staal muscled his way into the front of the net through traffic. Travis Zajac tried to get the puck out of danger, but he ended up banking the puck off John Oduya's skate and into the back of the net. Staal was given credit for the tying goal. [Pens 1, Devils 1] Conks made a great save on Elias just afterwards to keep the game tied. A 3-on-2 in favor of the Devils developed, but Conks made a great save on the sharp angle shot. Elias then high sticked Ryan Malone in the face, but no call was made. Erik Christensen later passed the puck to Ryan Whitney up in the slot. Whitney took a hard shot, but Martin Brodeur made a huge save to deny him the goal. Arron Asham then made a big hit on Letang. He was penalized because he brought up his elbow as he hit him. During the ensuing Penguins power play, John Madden tripped Malone, but again no call. The Pens didn't score on this power play. Zajac then almost had a breakaway, but Rob Scuderi stayed right with him and successfully stripped him of the puck.

Staal works to free the puck from Dainius Zubrus.

Then Lady Luck smiled on the Devils. Just off a faceoff, Rupp took a shot that bounced off Letang's chest and into the net just under the glove of Conks. [Pens 1, Devils 2] But the Pens were able to get it back a few minutes later when this happened: Brodeur passed the puck to Oduya. Oduya attempted to pass the puck and bank it off the boards behind the net, but the puck bounced off the boards and into the bottom of the rear of the net. Mad Max Talbot just happened to be right there. He was able to stop what he was doing and pass the puck out to Christensen, who was streaking in on Brodeur. In an instant, Christensen changed from the forehand to the backhand, which successfully fooled Brodeur. Christensen easily put it in the open net to tie the game. [Pens 2, Devils 2]

What a photo of Christensen's goal!!! You can really see how amazing the goal actually was in this picture. (Click to enlarge)

A mere 90 seconds later, Malkin passed the puck to Petr Sykora. Sykora was in the corner and surrounded by Devils. He then passed the puck to Malone, who was wide open. Malone had only Brodeur to beat - which he did. [Pens 3, Devils 2] With less than three minutes left in the second period, Brian Gionta rammed Jeff Taffe into the boards. Georges Laraque and Orpik both rushed in to defend their teammate but thankfully neither earned a penalty for their actions. Gionta was given a boarding penalty. He favored his knee as he went to the box. Taffe (fortunately) didn't seem to be hurt at all. The Pens did not score on this power play, and the period ended with the Pens up by a goal.

And what a great shot of the Pens celebrating Malone's first goal of the night!

The third period was much like the first period. There was a lot of up and down action, but nothing particularly noteworthy until another penalty was assessed. This time, however, the Devils were short a man (Sergei Brylin for hooking), and Malone scored by sending a bouncing puck into the net behind Brodeur. [Pens 4, Devils 2] Later in the period, Zach Parise was given a penalty for holding the stick. Fifty six seconds into the Penguins power play, Talbot was called for slashing (he broke the guy's stick!). Neither team scored on the 4-on-4 or their respective power plays.

Brodeur makes a beautiful kick save on Geno.

The Pens spent most of the third period playing hockey like the Devils usually play hockey. Malone twice just missed earning a hat trick, but for the most part the Pens were simply playing keep away. With just under 1:30 left in the game, Brodeur raced to the bench in favor of the extra attacker. While the Devils managed to hit the goal post, that would be the closest they would come to the net. The Pens won the game!

This was a HUGE division win. It's going to be a tight race from here on out, so hang on... Tomorrow night the Pens face Mark Recchi and the rest of the Thrashers at 7:00pm Eastern. GO PENS!!!!!!!!!


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