Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pens v Canes (L 2-4)

What a difference a day makes. The Pens seriously lacked desperation yesterday, but today they came to the RBC Center ready to play. Yes - I know they lost, but this loss is a lot easier to take knowing that the Pens actually played this game with some heart. Oh, and we got yet another update on Sid's conditioning progress! First though, an injury update from yesterday's game: Aaron Ward has been released from a Pittsburgh hospital and will eventually be okay. (Evidently when he was heaving, he was spitting up blood on the ice.) It's good to hear that he's going to be okay.

Very early in the first period, Rod Brind'Amour was out for his first shift of the game. He was felled by a monster hit from Georges Laraque that sandwiched Brind'Amour between the boards, Laraque, and Nathan Smith. He left the ice hunched over and went down the runway. We learned late in the second period that he sustained an injury to his knee and would not return to the game.

Brind'Amour feels the effects of a big sandwich hit from Laraque and Smith.

Jordan Staal took a tripping penalty shortly after Brind'Amour's exit. Before the door to the penalty box could close behind him, Ray Whitney fired a shot that Erik Cole was able to deflect into the net past Dany Sabourin. [Pens 0, Canes 1] Later Tim Conboy and Smith looked like they were going to fight, but the refs jumped in before a punch could be thrown by either man. They both went to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct. Neither team scored on the resulting 4-on-4. Smith and Conboy had words on the way back to their respective benches.

The Canes celebrate Cole's goal.

Sid was at the optional practice this morning. He is apparently feeling pretty good. Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Kadar was working the Saint "like a plow horse!" ← That's how Bob Errey accurately described what the training method Kadar is using with Sid looked like to the untrained eye. Basically, Sid had a padded rope around his waist. Kadar was holding the ends of the rope like reigns while Sid power skated down the ice. If he can do that, he must be feeling better... BUT REMEMBER! The Pens keep stressing that the timetable for the Creature's return has not changed.
Late Edit: Thanks to a comment left by a Friend of The Show known simply as D, you can see Sid doing the plow horse exercise at the very beginning of this highlight video. Thanks for the link, D!!! :)

Sabou mishandled the puck which led to a turnover to Eric Staal, but Sabou was able to make the stick save on E. Staal. Laraque was later challenged to a fight by Wade Brookbank. Of course, he obliged. After a quick standoff, they went after each other. Laraque pounded Brookbank hard with a number of punches about the head and face, taking him down to the ice. Brookbank would not stay down for long. He immediately got back up and proceeded to put Laraque in a headlock. (A headlock?! Seriously?! Wow.) The refs came in and broke it up.

Laraque and Brookbank go down to the ice.

With seven minutes left in the period, Brooks Orpik of all people scored his first goal in 181 games to tie the game. Evgeni Malkin rushed in to save the puck for Orpik, who hasn't scored since the October 22, 2005 game against the Bruins. [Pens 1, Canes 1] As soon as the crowd realized it was Orpik who had scored, they booed loudly. Errey then pointed out the irony that Cole and Orpik were the goal scorers.

Orpik scores his first goal in over two years!!! :)

Shortly afterward, Ryan Bayda missed the wide open net on the blocker side of Sabou. Then Ryan Malone flew through the Canes' zone. He looked like he was about to make something happen until he was hooked by R. Whitney. The Pens didn't score on the ensuing power play. The first period ended with a 1-1 draw.

The Pens celebrate Orpik's goal.

The second period began with R. Whitney still in the box - for a mere 6 seconds. Then LETOWSKI was called for hooking. Geno shot the puck towards the net. The puck hit the back of a Canes defenseman and went past Cam Ward. [Pens 2, Canes 1] Immediately following Geno's goal, the Canes rang the puck off the post. Then, Jeff Taffe took a cheap shot to his noggin when Joey Mormina lined him up and tossed up his elbow as they collided. No call was made, and Taffe's fell back down on his first attempt at getting up. He finally made it to the bench. He was shown bleeding from the bridge of his nose. We later learned that his nose was broken. He did not return to the game. Rob Scuderi took a holding penalty. Malone got a 1-on-1 shorthanded chance during the Canes' power play, but Ward blocked his shot. The puck started bouncing like a ping pong, but somehow the Pens ended up helping Sabou keep it out of the net.

Petr Sykora, Scuderi, and Cole battle for the puck.

E. Staal went to the box for hooking. With 16 seconds left on his penalty, his brother Jordan went to the box for high sticking. The 16 second 4-on-4 was uneventful. The ensuing Canes power play was not: Sergei Gonchar and Cole both went to the box for coincidental cross-checking minors. The Canes held on to their man-advantage, and while younger brother Jordan was in the sin bin, Eric Staal reached out and corralled the puck as it was loose in front of the net. He guided the puck around the traffic in front of the net and into the goal. [Pens 2, Canes 2] With this goal, E. Staal ended his scoring dry spell, not having scored since his appearance in the All Star game. Soon after the goal, E. Staal nearly scored again but Sabou blocked his attempt. As play was whistled down, Brookbank pushed Letang. Laraque immediately came to Letang's aide, as did the refs. With multiple refs separating them, Brookbank was flapping his lips at Laraque. (What are you gonna do, Brookbank? Put him in a headlock again or do you want to fight like a man this time?)

Eric Staal looks like he might be pleased with himself...

Then Malone and Tyler Kennedy, who returned following his bout with mononucleosis, went deep into the Canes' zone. They were working along the boards behind Ward to free the puck. Four Canes players tied the two Penguins up against the boards. It was a stalemate. Finally, the refs blew the whistle and ended the standoff. Then Sabou had a problem with his glove. The refs gave Assistant Equipment Manager Paul DeFazio a very limited amount of time to fix it, which he of course did. On the very next play, Sabou took a delay of game penalty because he gloved the puck while a Cane was bearing down on him. Instead of freezing the puck, he went behind the cage and dropped the puck. The Canes didn't score on their power play. Later Sabou made a BIG glove save as Letowski has words with both Orpik and Mad Max Talbot. (Max was giving Letowski the old "BRING IT" head toss, haha!) The second period ended with the teams at a 2-2 draw.

Check out that expression on Max's face! (Click to enlarge)

The third period went straight down the toilet for the Pens. First, Max took a penalty for holding on a bad call by the refs. On the ensuing Canes power play, Cole created a screen in front of Sabou which R. Whitney took full advantage of by scoring. [Pens 2, Canes 3] Geno put a big hit on Glen Wesley. There was a lot of action, and it seemed like the Canes were getting away with taking liberties on the Pens. Then the Canes went 3-on-2 down the ice. Bayda hit the crossbar with his shot, but it was angled in favor of the Canes. [Pens 2, Canes 4] Geno was playing like a one man wrecking crew. He was trying to get his team back in the game when he was slashed in the hands. No call was made, and Geno let the refs and everyone else know he wasn't pleased about that. He slammed his stick off the boards in front of the Penguins' bench as he emphatically said "F@CK!!!" He also barked away at the refs in frustration.

Ward was like a wall.

Eventually, Bayda took a high sticking penalty. During the Pens' power play, Wesley was called for interference on Kris Beech after sending Beech into the boards hard. Beech was helped off the ice and down the runway by the Pens' trainers. For whatever reason, J. Staal was called for charging at the same exact time as Wesley was being called for the interferenc. WTF?! Neither team scored during the ensuing chaos. Geno found himself in the box for tripping. E. Staal put the puck in the back of the net. [Pens 2, Canes 5] But wait! The goal was waived off because Cole was in the crease. That part was true - Cole was in the crease - but Scuderi pushed him there. Most of the time that goal stands, but perhaps the refs were attempting to make up for some bad and/or missed calls from earlier in the game? With just over a minute in the game, Niclas Wallin took a holding penalty. I am still unsure of how the Pens were unable to score on their resulting power play. The puck bounced everywhere in front of Ward but did not go into the net. The clock ticked down and the Pens lost. On the bright side: The Pens haven't lost two games in a row since their December 11th loss to the Flyers was followed up with a loss to the Senators on December 13th. The Pens have Friday and Saturday off. Then they face the Sabres at 6:00pm Eastern. GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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