Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pens v Lightning (W 4-1)

Tonight's game saw the return of the sorely missed Mad Max Talbot! w00t!!! I had forgotten how much I loved that guy. :) Erik Christensen and Tyler Kennedy were out with the flu. Ryan Stone came up from the Wilkes-Barre Scranton baby Pens to help fill in the gaps. Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey seemed obsessed with comparing Vincent Lecavalier and Sidney Crosby all night, despite the fact that both of the men failed to earn a point. The game was fast paced from the initial faceoff all the way through until the last seconds of the game.

These two superstars didn't score tonight.

The first period had just gotten underway when Martin St. Louis blatantly tripped Colby Armstrong. The Pens came thisclose to scoring a couple of times but almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. The Pens didn't score on their power play. As St. Louis rushed on goal, Evgeni Malkin dove and extended his stick all the way out to poke check the puck and prevent St. Louis from getting a shot on goal. Sid got another chance to show us why he was the top vote getter (he got over half a million votes!) becoming the Eastern Conference starter for the upcoming All Star game when he curled around, then dragged the puck past, and then went up and around Paul Ranger for a shot that Karri Ramo blocked. Ryan Whitney earned the Pens' first penalty when he was (questionably) called for tripping. St. Louis and Lecavalier took shot after shot after shot that seemed to be hitting all of the Penguins players. The Lightning did not score on the advantage. Sid later got knocked down as he worked the puck behind the net. He took a backhand shot that Ramo was able to stop. As play was whistled down, both Geno and Sid were manhandled by Lightning players. Ranger was behind Sid restraining him when it appeared to me that Sid said, "Get the f_ck off me!" That's our boy!!! ;)

Jan Hlavac got a good shot with no traffic, but Ty Conklin gloved it right out of midair. Then, Lecavalier was ABSOLUTELY ROBBED of a goal by Conklin. He took a quick wrist shot on a wide open corner of the net. Conks threw himself across the blue paint and stretched his glove out. The puck went into his glove and popped back out. Lightning players and fans alike (as well as Pens players and fans) were stunned. Later, while the Lightning were on the offense, Rob Scuderi lost his stick, so Sir Sidney immediately turned his own stick over to the defenseman. With only a few minutes to go, Kris Letang got tripped up, but no call was made. The first period ended without any goals being scored.


The second period started off with a good scoring chance for Talbot as he tried to knock the puck into the net, but Ramo made the save. Jarrko Ruutu was knocked down from behind by Jason Ward but again, no call was made. Hlavac later got a shot on a wide open net, but fortunately for us, he hit the goal post. The setback was only temporary, though, as Ranger scored the first goal of the night when Conks, who was down on his back inside the net after blocking Ranger's initial shot, couldn't get himself back up to stop Ranger from poking the puck into the net. Lightning 1, Pens 0. Talbot almost got the goal back quickly, but he shot just wide of the goal. He then dove to keep the puck in the Lightning zone, but he didn't have anyone there to help him keep the puck in play. (OH, MAX! HOW WE'VE MISSED YOU!!!) Ramo made a few big saves of his own on a shot by Jeff Taffe and then again when Ruutu chopped at the rebound. Then it was Ramo's turn to rob the Penguins of a goal when he beat Geno to the puck as it grazed the goal line.

Sid was a maniac tonight. He set up a play that ended up with Army getting the puck in front of the open net, but Army just couldn't get it past Ramo. The Pens 4th line (Stone, Georges Laraque, Taffe) went nuts and did everything but score. With 7½ minutes to go, Malkin passed the puck to the Saint, who nearly scored with a one-handed backhander. His shot was wide only by a couple of inches. He stayed down beside Ramo and was crosschecked in the small of the back by Ranger for his efforts. About 30 seconds into the power play, Petr Sykora blasted a shot from the slot that officials later claimed was deflected by Jordan Staal's stick. The puck then hit the goal post and went into the back of the net for the tie. Pens 1, Lightning 1. (I've seen the shot 3 or 4 times and I just don't see it hit Staal's stick. In fact, Staal flinches and jerks backwards because the puck nearly hit him in the face. I'd flinch too, because I certainly would NOT want to take a shot from Sykora of all people to the face. Anyways, who cares - it was a goal, no matter which Pen scored it!) Sid turned the puck over more than once tonight. In this case, Army stole the puck back and made an impressive blind pass behind to Geno, but it didn't lead to a goal. About two minutes later however, Staal went five hole on Ramo to give the Pens the go ahead goal. Pens 2, Lightning 1.

After an insane shift by the Lightning, Laraque was penalized for tripping. The Lightning didn't score on their power play. A Pen headlined the puck to Laraque as he came out of the box. He could have had a breakaway chance but instead chose to wait for support. He passed the puck to Staal, who came dangerously close to earning the natural hat trick. The second period ended with the Pens up by a goal.

Point Streak = Over

Crosby opened the third period up by sailing down the wing to take a hard shot on goal, but the puck hit the post. A few minutes into the period, the Pens suffered injustice. St.Louis, Talbot, and Shane O'Brien were in the corner battling for control of the puck. They were positioned in that order. A stick came up and hit O'Brien in the eye. He went down hard for only a minute but quickly rose to his feet and charged at Talbot. The refs prevented the bleeding O'Brien from making physical contact with Talbot. I'm calling shenanigans here because it was quite obvious (especially on the replay) that it was St. Louis's stick (which was across Talbot's body with the blade pointed towards O'Brien) and not Talbot's stick (which was extended out in front of his own body with the blade on the ice) that hit O'Brien in the eye. His little temper tantrum sold the refs on it, though, and Talbot was assessed a four minute penalty. Side note: I wonder if O'Brien will charge St. Louis and try to fight him after he sees the replay. What a dumbass. On the extended Lightning power play, Sidney got a good shorthanded chance, but for some reason he didn't even try to shoot it. Conks made a series of great saves, and Filip Kuba fired a shot off the crossbar to keep the Lightning from scoring on their ill-gotten power play.

During a break, Steigy told us that Sergei Gonchar took the Penguins' staff and the PR people out to a steakhouse (his treat) last night for dinner. That must have been QUITE a bill! Then Sir Sidney blew past 2 Lightning players to take a hard shot on goal that Ramo was able to block. The rebound went right to the wide open Gonchar, but his shot was also blocked by Ramo. Army just wasn't able to get to the rebound from that shot. Later, Sykora broke his stick on a shot that hit Staal's skate and went right to Ryan Malone, who promptly scored. Sykora got lucky, though, because when the three of them gathered to celebrate, it could be seen that Sykora was still holding the broken shaft of his stick. He should have dropped it like a hot potato... Pens 3, Lightning 1.

Malone scores his first goal in 10 games.

With 1:38 left in the game, Ramo was pulled in favor of the extra attacker. Although he claims that records and streaks mean nothing to him, I'm willing to bet that Sid was hoping to get control of the puck and score an empty netter to keep his current point streak alive. Geno got the puck, and despite the fact that Sid was wide open on the other side of the ice (parallel to Geno), Malkin decided to take the shot himself. He easily scored making it Pens 4, Lightning 1 with only 11.5 seconds left on the clock. It was a weird, almost selfish choice for Geno, considering that only a few games ago Sidney passed the puck to Malkin for an empty netter so he could redeem himself after nearly costing the team a goal after a turnover against the Sabres. Whatever. Sid was kept scoreless for only the 7th game this season thus ending his current point streak. Oh well, the Pens won regardless. The Pens will face the Atlanta Thrashers - for the first time since releasing Mark Recchi - on Saturday at 7:00pm Eastern on Versus. GO PENS!!!


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