Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pens v Canadiens (W 5-4)

Ryan Malone started tonight's adventure off a couple of minutes before the drop of the puck. FSN Pittsburgh's Dan Potash interviewed Bugsy before the start of the game. Potash asked Malone, "You're facing a Canadien team that just last game came back from a 5 goal deficit for the win. What's key to winning tonight's game?" Malone: "Score 6." His response was AWESOME. I loved it! :D

Sid was nowhere to be seen tonight. His condition was not discussed at all either, so there weren't any updates for us... The crowd in that arena was so loud we could barely hear Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey. Early in the first period, Connor James and Tyler Kennedy (who seem to have great chemistry together) tried to make something happen. James took a big hit to get the puck to Kennedy, but Cristobal Huet stopped the shot. Evgeni Malkin had a nice play. He sneaked into the Canadiens' zone and fired a shot, but Huet made the save. The Canadiens had an insane shift with several minutes of puck possession in the Pens' zone. They fired shot after shot at Dany Sabourin, but Sabou stopped them all. Then a give and go between Geno and Petr Sykora ended with a great spinning pass from Geno to Ryan Whitney at the point. Whit fired the puck on goal, and somehow through all that traffic in front of the net, the puck slid over the goal line before Huet could get his hand on it. [Pens 1, Canadiens 0] The crowd quieted down a bit after that.

Connor James tries to sneak one past Huet.

Sergei Kostitsyn nearly got a breakaway chance, but Sergei Gonchar (who is not exactly known for his speed) was able to keep on Kostitsyn and use his body to knock Kostitsyn down. The crowd booed loudly. The Canadiens had another insane shift. Again, they kept firing the puck at Sabou. Mercifully, after what seemed like an eternity, Sabou stopped the madness with a glove save. A fortuitous bounce sent the puck right in front of Jordan Staal, who had come down center ice unchallenged, but he didn't get any mustard on the shot, so Huet easily blocked the "shot." Guillaume Latendresse got two chances, but his first shot hit the crossbar and he fanned on the second shot. A 3-on-2 developed in favor of the Canadiens, but Syko poke checked the puck away beautifully. Then Staal got another 1-on-none chance, but he didn't get a chance to shoot the puck because he was tripped up by Ryan O'Byrne. On the Pens' power play, Tomas Plekanec made a shorthanded attempt, but Gonch was right to kick the puck off Plekanec's stick. The Pens didn't score on their advantage. With just a few seconds more than a minute left in the period, Kennedy flew down the near side with the puck. He lost the puck in the corner, but the Canadiens couldn't get control of it. Jarrko Ruutu swooped in and bounced the puck off Josh Gorges through Huet's 5-hole. [Pens 2, Habs 0] The crowd was barely audible. The period ended with the Pens up by two.

The second period began with Francis Bouillon putting a big hit on Colby Armstrong, who did not have the puck. If that had been reversed, Army would have been called for interference, but no such call was made against Bouillon. Army went to the bench bleeding from the bridge of his nose. Mad Max Talbot and Maxim Lapierre dropped the gloves off the very next faceoff. Lapierre, who at 6'2" has a longer reach than the 5'11" Talbot, held Max at bay. Lapierre got several more punches than Max, but Max's punches were connecting much better. The men finally fell to the ice, and Lapierre punched Max as he was down on his back. When the refs went to separate them, Lapierre refused to let go of Max. It was enough to fire up the Canadiens' captain Saku Koivu. He cut the lead in half after Kostitsyn hit Daryl Sydor in the corner and commandeered control of the puck. He sent it to Koivu, who promptly scored. [Pens 2, Habs 1] The crowd began to wake up again.

Koivu scores.

Geno blocked a pass with his skate in the Canadiens' zone. He gloved it down for Kennedy and James, but neither one of them could get control of the puck. Kris Letang took a high stick to his chin from his friend (and opponent) Latendresse. After Whit fired a shot through traffic, Malone was there in front to take out the trash and earn his 20th goal of the season. [Pens 3, Habs 1] Later, Sydor used his body to block a shot. Then Geno stole the puck from Alex Kovalev and put a hit on another Canadien behind Sabou. (In the process, he knocked Sabou's water bottle off the net. It lay on the ice for at least 2 or 3 minutes until a ref finally picked it up again.) A few seconds later, Army set Geno up in front of Huet, but for some reason Geno spun around and as a result, he didn't get enough power on the backhand shot.

This was the kind of game that hockey fans LIVE for. There was lots of action at both ends of the ice, lots of big hits, and a little bit of hostility to liven things up. Malone picked off a pass nicely. It lead to a 3-on-2 with Geno and Syko. Geno's final pass was right to the blade of Malone's stick, but he didn't get the correct angle for the deflection. Ruutu ended up going to the box a bit later for hooking. Kovalev (after whom I named my first dog), shot the puck to Christopher Higgins's stick, which deflected the puck past Sabou. [Pens 3, Habs 2] The second period ended with the Pens lead cut in half.

Poor Staal can't buy a goal lately. He's doing everything right, but it's just not happening for him.

Twenty-one seconds after the third period got underway, Michael Ryder turned out of the corner and fired a shot that found the back of the net. Unreal. Is this going to be another spectacular Habs comeback?! [Pens 3, Habs 3] Immediately following the very next faceoff, Kennedy took a penalty for hooking. While the Habs were on the man-advantage, Staal attempted to get a short handed shot, but his efforts were foiled. Then Koivu got the puck and sent it to Roman Hamrlik, who scored 38 seconds after Ryder to give the Habs the lead. [Pens 3, Habs 4] The crowd was louder than they were at the start of the game.

Things went from bad to worse when Geno was blatantly tripped by Kovalev. It was not called. In fact, a few seconds later, Geno himself was called for high sticking Mike Komisarek. The crowd started a "MALK-in, MALK-in!!!" chant as Geno was led to the box. During the Canadiens' power play, Ryder drilled Sydor into the boards. Sydor was about two feet out from the boards when Ryder hit him. He went down hard and stayed down. The Pens' trainer came out to tend to a dazed Sydor as he lay on the ice on his back. Unbelievably, the crowd began singing a song while Sydor was down. Stay classy, there, guys! At least have the common courtesy to wait to make sure the man isn't injured, geez. Sydor got up and went to the bench. (He would return to the game for his next shift after a much needed and well earned break.) The Canadiens did not score on their advantage. As Geno was released from the box, the Habs gave the puck away at the Pens' blue line. Malone got the puck and head manned it to Geno, who was streaking down towards Huet. Geno got a little revenge for Sydor (and himself) because of course he scored! [Pens 4, Habs 4] The wind was taken from the crowd's sails a bit after that.

Geno scores!!!!!!!

On the very next play, Kovalev was given an interference penalty. A mere 15 seconds into the Pens' power play, Gonch fired the shot that would be both the game winner as well as his 600th career point. [Pens 5, Habs 4] Hamerlik didn't help his team's case when he took a charging penalty. He went in hard and brought up his elbow into Army's schnoz. (Poor Colby!) The Pens, however, did not score on the power play. The Pens got a 3-on-1 chance, but Whit's shot was just wide of the goal. With just seconds more than a minute left in the game, Huet was pulled in favor of the extra attacker. It was almost a huge mistake. Syko got control of the puck and missed the empty net by mere inches. It didn't matter, though, since the Habs were unable to tie the game as the clock hit :00. The Pens fought back and won the game!!! Malone's 6-goal joke almost became a reallity, and Whit, with a goal and a pair of assists, was the McDonald's player of the game. Geno should have been named co-player of the game, as he too had 1 goal and 2 assists.

Army's nose took a beating tonight.

Special thanks to everyone who spoke out in yesterday's post. I was thrilled to realize that I wasn't the only one getting frustrated with all that talk. The Pens face the Sens this Saturday at 2:00pm Eastern. GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!


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