Monday, January 14, 2008

Pens v Rangers (W 4-1)

The first five seconds of the first period set the tone for this entire of the game. Literally just after the puck was dropped, our big man George Laraque was challenged to a fight by Colton Orr. Laraque was dominating Orr for the bulk of the tangle until Orr grabbed Laraque and twisted him down into the boards. Both were penalized and given 5 minutes for fighting. Early on, our main man blew through everyone, battled past the Rangers defensemen, and fired a shot on Henrik Lundqvist, who made a nice save. The Pens got the first power play of the night. Paul Mara was in the box less than a minute when Sid passed the puck to Evgeni Malkin, who beat Lundqvist on his glove side. [Pens 1, Rangers 0] On the very next play, Jordan Staal nearly scored, but Lundqvist shut the door on him. Then, Sidney (again) split the Rangers D-men. He snapped a hard wrist shot that Lundqvist blocked but didn't cover. The puck ended up by Lundqvist's leg pad. Geno was trailing Sidney on the play and arrived at the perfect time to sweep the puck into the goal. (← This prompted my husband to yell, "And Malkin's there to clean up the garbage!!!") [Pens 2, Rangers 0]


A little later, Geno sprayed snow in Lundqvist's face. Michal Rozsival took exception to this and made sure Geno knew it. Immediately after the puck dropped on the next play, Malkin drilled his shoulder into Rosival, knocking him down to the ice. It was a nice clean hit, so no call was warranted. Orr was given a penalty. During the Pens' power play, when Ty Conklin came out to play the puck, his stick broke. Immediately, Sid offered Conks his stick, but then Conks remembered that goalies are the only players on the ice allowed to play with a broken stick. He retrieved the lower portion of his stick, and the Pens went on the offensive. They didn't score on the advantage, though. Jaromir Jagr lifted Jarrko Ruutu's stick into Rosival's eye. He lay kicking and writhing on the ice but was no worse for wear since he returned to the game just a few minutes later
(did he maybe think he was going to sell the ref on a penalty to Ruutu?). Ryan Whitney took a hard shot, but Sid was prevented from getting a chance on the rebound because Chris Drury was holding his stick. Drury was sent to the box for the infraction. The Pens looked awful on this power play. Sidney and Geno both turned the puck over several times. They were as disorganized as I've seen them in a long time. Then, with 26 seconds left on the penalty to Drury, Rosival took a cheap elbow shot to the chin of Kris Letang. The Pens found themselves with 26 seconds with a two-man advantage. It took only a few seconds for Sergei Gonchar to find the back of the net. [Pens 3, Rangers 0] The Pens still had 1:50 left on their power play, but they didn't capitalize on it. With 51.9 seconds left in the period, Ruutu was penalized for hooking. The period ended with the Pens enjoying a 3-goal lead.

Geno scores!

The second period started with Ruutu still in the box for 1:08. The Rangers didn't score on this power play. On a later play, Drury streaked in out of nowhere and got a shot on Conklin, but Conks made a beautiful save. Letang got called for tripping Rosival. The Rangers didn't score on their power play because Conks made a number of great saves. Then Conks was out of position a little bit later as he was attempting to play the puck. Scott Gomez ended up with the puck as Conks somehow managed to get back in position and rob Gomez of a goal. Conklin's netminding was incredible during the second period. He ended up stopping a career high 43 shots tonight, and he had to work for every single one of them. Geno and Sid played like their very existences depended on it tonight, too. A giveaway to Crosby led to two of the most insane minutes of hockey I've seen in literally years. Geno and Sid both were spinning around like tops. Gonchar was getting in on the act, too. At one point, Sid couldn't quite spin out of the way of a Ranger, so he made a diving pass to Geno as he fell to the ice. For all the theatrics, however, the Pens didn't get even one shot on goal. (It was unreal to watch, though.)

J. Staal was called for hooking, but the Rangers didn't score on this power play, either. Tempers started flaring again as Orr popped Conks in the chest with his stick. Darryl Sydor quickly swooped in to take care of the matter. J. Staal and Tyler Kennedy have been working well together of late, but unfortunately they couldn't make a mark on the scoreboard tonight. With only 49.1 seconds left in the period, Geno was called for holding. On the Rangers' power play, J. Staal got a pass from Gonchar. He was challenged only by Martin Straka. Adam Hall came in behind them and took a pass from J. Staal, but Lundqvist made an incredible save. The second period ended with the same score as the first period.

What a night for Geno!

Malkin was in the box for another 1:11. Gomez fired a wicked shot at Conklin, hitting him in the head. We could hear the puck hitting Conklin's helmet. He literally froze for a few seconds. He must have been seeing stars. The play continued as the Pens took the puck towards Lundqvist, and the ref went over to make sure Conks was okay. (He was.) Then a scary moment happened: Geno was going to take a shot. He ended up sliding and nearly hitting the goal post. The puck ended up in the corner. Both he and Sid (who was speeding up the wing) went after the loose puck. Sid was unable to stop, and I doubt very much Geno saw Sid coming as the two superstars collided. Sid hit Malkin from behind and fell onto his back. He slid the width of the ice on his back with his legs in the air. Geno lost his lid (helmet, haha) and hit into the boards. Both men seemed a bit dazed, but THANK GOD neither was seriously injured. The next two shifts by the top line (Geno, Sid, and Colby Armstrong) were incredible. They did everything but score. Then, the Saint was called for interference as he tried to muscle a Ranger out of Geno's way. The Rangers did not score on this power play, either.

Less than a minute after Sir Sidney came out of the box, Geno was called for interference following a little hip check on a Ranger. The Rangers went on the advantage, and this time, Jaromir Jagr made the Pens pay when he got his own rebound and stuffed it into the net after Conks fell. [Pens 3, Rangers 1] Then Rosival collided with Crosby. As they went down, Rosival shoved his glove up into Sid's throat. Coach Michel Therrien's response? Laraque was out on the next shift. He promptly ran over Rangers thug Ryan Hollweg like a freight train. It looked a little bit like Hollweg thought about going after Laraque but then thought better of it.

Jagr prevents Conks from getting another shutout.

Marcel Hossa was then given 2 minutes for slashing after he chopped down on Brooks Orpik. Sid took the puck and skated around in deep in his own zone on the delayed penalty. Suddenly he sent the puck flying up ahead to Geno. He was 1-on-1 with Lundqvist, and somehow, Lundqvist ended up blocking Malkin's shot. It was wild. With just under 2 minutes left in the period, the Rangers pulled Lundqvist. The Rangers pulled out all the stops, but in the end, Sydor shuffled the puck ahead to Geno. He took a few steps and shot it into the empty net. Ironically, the Pens were giving away winter hats tonight. Dozens of the free hats as well as dozens of ballcaps hit the ice. [Pens 4, Rangers 1]

Sid congratulates Geno on his second NHL hat trick.

After the ice was cleared, there were only 23.9 seconds left to play, but Lundqvist was back between the pipes. With a mere 5.7 seconds left on the clock, Dubinski dropped his gloves and wanted to go rounds with Jeff Taffe, but Taffe smartly refused. The puck was dropped again. This time, both teams erupted in a scrum. The two players most involved in a fight were Hall and Marc Staal. It was a terrible fight, though, because M. Staal had Hall in a bear hug and wouldn't let go so the fight never really got started. (Good thing - that could have been weird for Hall in the locker room with Jordan!) Once the dust settled, there was only 1.2 left on the clock. The period finally ended. Due to a quirk in the design at the Mellon Arena, the teams have to crisscross on their way back to their respective locker rooms. The refs and linesmen made sure the teams behaved themselves on their way. The Pens don't play again until Friday when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30pm Eastern.

The hats were everywhere! (That hat in front of his feet was the promotional giveaway for the night.)

Make sure you check back here in between the games, though! I've got a few things planned for you... ;)


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