Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pens v Thrashers (L 1-4)

Awful. It was simply an awful game for the Penguins. It was one of those games where you were left feeling ill at the end of it. The Pens worked so hard and played relatively well, but nothing seemed to go their way. And while the Pens had a good night keeping puck possession in the offensive zone, they took too many penalties, and Kari Lehtonen played an outstanding game. He robbed them more than a few times tonight.

Mr. Lehtonen, tear down this wall!

Not much happened in the first half of the first period. Then Bobby Holik scored after Ty Conklin blocked his initial attempt. Holik stayed with the puck and scored on the backhand. [Pens 0, Thrashers 1] Eric Boulton ran over Conks and knocked off his helmet as the goal was scored. An errant pass by the Thrashers that went to Evgeni Malkin led to some beautiful passing by Malkin and Darryl Sydor. Eventually, they got the puck to Petr Sykora, who fired one of many wicked, quick shots that Lehtonen wouldn't let cross the goal line. After a commercial break, we were told that Halifax Mayor Peter J. Kelly sent Sid a get well letter after a local paper suggested that he should do so. Then Jarrko Ruutu leveled Eric Perrin with a big hit.

Trouble started really brewing when Jeff Taffe high sticked Garnet Exelby in the face. There was blood, so the penalty was 4 minutes long. Geno was throwing his body all over the ice to defend the net. Jordan Staal ended up losing his stick and having to kick the puck to break up a play. Ex-Pen Mark Recchi slid into the boards after a hit (diving at its best). Mad Max Talbot actually laughed at Recchi for that one. With 35 seconds left in the penalty, Ilya Kovalchuk blasted the puck into the net all the way from the blue line. [Pens 0, Thrashers 2] The Pens got a power play with just over 2 minutes left in the period after Pascal Dupuis tripped Kris Letang, but they didn't score on the advantage. The first period ended with the Thrashers were enjoying a 2-goal lead.

Holik scores on Conklin (picture 1).

The second period was only 59 seconds in when Ken Klee was called for interference. Klee, you should know, took a puck to the face on 01-24-08 from a shot by Rangers pain-in-the-arse Sean Avery that required so many stitches that the doctors lost count. Geno was throwing his body all over the ice again (this time in an effort to keep possession), but they just couldn't get past the brick wall Lehtonen. The Pens were then dealt a huge blow when Ruutu was ejected for kneeing Kovalchuk - except that Ruutu didn't actually do it. He went to finish a check, Kovalchuk went to get out of the way, and their knees ended up meeting. Kovalchuk went down in pain. Steve McCarthy raced in to defend his team's star, though he didn't exactly fight like a man. Ruutu was bent over the wall in front of the Thrashers' bench whie McCarthy pounded on the back of his head. Kovalchuk left limping. He briefly returned to the game only to leave again just minutes later.

Kovalchuk won't be pointing his finger at any Penguins again for a while...

When the smoke cleared, McCarthy was given the following penalties: 2 minutes for roughing, 5 minutes for fighting, and 10 minutes for misconduct. Ruutu was given a 5 minute penalty for kneeing and then tossed for the night. It was a horrible call from the refs. The Pens and Thrashers played 4-on-4 for two minutes. The Thrashers were then supposed to have three full minutes with a man advantage, but with 1:40 left, the refs gave Holik an even-up penalty for slashing Malkin. Neither team scored. After hitting the goal post on a shot, Sergei Gonchar took a penalty for hooking. Geno had a nice shorthanded chance, but Lehtonen again denied him the goal. The Thrashers didn't score on the power play.


Brooks Orpik, playing left wing again tonight, sent the puck to Jonathan Filewich, but he couldn't get a piece of it. Nathan Smith, however, came in and had an open net shot. He put the puck into the net behind Lehtonen. BUT WAIT!!! What's this? He may have kicked it in the net?! The War Room in Toronto got the call... While we waited, we saw on the replay that Smith did kick the puck, but it was very clear that he was actually attempting to kick the puck to the blade of his stick. He missed his stick - but not the net. So technically that should be a goal. After waiting several minutes, we got the verdict: NO GOAL. Unreal. Smith was stripped of what would have been his 1st NHL goal. The second period ended with the same score as the first period.

Holik scores on Conklin (picture 2).

I let my four dogs outside and came back to see that the Pens ended up beginning the third period with a power play. FSN Pittsburgh didn't show a replay of the infraction, so I'm not sure which Thrasher did what to end up in the box. All I know is that I came back inside with my boys to see Gonchar diving to attempt a poke check on Perrin. All he accomplished was helping to give Perrin a shorthanded breakaway shot, and (of course) Perrin promptly increased the Thrashers' lead by another goal. [Pens 0, Thrashers 3] The Pens never did end up scoring on that power play. The fans in the building then began to chant "CONK-lin, CONK-lin, CONK-lin, CONK-lin... YOU SUCK!" Classy. I'm not sure if the chant threw him off because not long afterwards, Jim Slater easily scored on him. [Pens 0, Thrashers 4] It was Slater's first goal of the season. Conks was pulled, and Dany Sabourin came in for relief. A little bit later there was some outstanding cycling from Staal, Erik Christensen, and Talbot. It directly led to a nice goal scored by Ryan Whitney. He finally got one past Lehtonen to ruin the chance for a shutout. [Pens 1, Thrashers 4] They still had more than half a period to work with, so I was hopeful...

Ex-Pen Chris Thorburn hugs Slater as though he got a game winning goal.
Settle down, chief - you were already killing us.

...but despite the Pens' best efforts, they just couldn't get another goal. They got another penalty, though, when Orpik was called for slashing. They upped the ante on the penalty kill. Whitney and Talbot went 2-on-1 towards the goal, but Lehtonen made the save like a champ. The Thrashers didn't score on this power play. With a last ditch effort in the last minutes of the game, Orpik managed to hit the goal post, but it didn't bounce in favor of the Penguins. The Pens lost - HARD. The Pens don't play again until Saturday. Hopefully, they'll shake this one off and get refreshed and ready to go for Saturday's game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

(NOTE: At the time I posted this, these were the only two photos of the game that were available. I'll add more shots in the morning - if they are available.)

UPDATE 01-31-08: New photos have been added.


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