Monday, February 04, 2008

Pens v Devils (L 3-4 OT)

The Pens apparently learn quickly from their mistakes. The first period in tonight's game was in sharp contrast to the first period from Saturday's game. The Pens set the pace early when Erik Christensen tried to make something happen by setting up a chance in front of Martin Brodeur, but Brodeur shut the door on him. The fast pace was met by the Devils. There was a lot of back and forth, but no goals were scored. The Pens got the first power play of the night when Mike Mottau high sticked Georges Laraque in the face. The Pens were awful on the power play for the first minute of the advantage. The Devils easily kept them from getting a shot on goal. Then the Pens finally started taking some shots, including one that drilled Brodeur in the head. The ref asked him if he was okay, but he just shook it off and adjusted his helmet.

Ryan Malone and Johnny Oduya nearly do simultaneous face plants.

Sergei Gonchar made a huge save on Travis Zajac to keep the game scoreless. Then Evgeni Malkin dropped the puck off at center ice - but all the Pens were behind him. Luckily, he came back around and stripped the Devils of the puck to correct his error. The Pens got another power play opportunity when Zach Parise was called for slashing. On the ensuing power play, Crusher hit the post on a shot. Ryan Malone was in the midst of a nice cycling play but had the puck wander off his stick. Malone was upset about it, so much so that he slammed his stick on the boards in frustration as he returned to the bench. The Pens did not score on the advantage.

As Versus returned from a commercial break, they were playing the effing chicken dance song... Patrik Elias attempted a backhand pass in his own zone, but Jarrko Ruutu swooped in and intercepted the puck. He took a hard slapshot, but Brodeur blocked the shot. As Versus went to commercial, we saw David Clarkson tugging on Malone's jersey. As you can probably guess, during their next turn on the ice together, they went at it. It was pretty much a draw. In fact, they even landed their hardest punch on each other simultaneously.

Those summer boxing lessons have come in handy for Bugsy.

Laraque and Vitaly Vishnevski had words after Laraque hit him while trying to negate an icing call. Mad Max Talbot (the Super Star - haha) worked like a man possessed to keep possession of the puck and get it to an open man, but he just couldn't make anything happen. With just over 2½ minutes left in the period, Crusher was penalized for hooking. The Devils just missed the goal once, and Talbot and Jordan Staal had a 2-on-2 shorthanded chance, but neither team scored on the Devils' power play. The period ended with the same score as when it began.

Early on, the Pens got a power play opportunity when Elias was called for interfering with Staal. The power play would prove fruitful: Geno threw the puck at the goal from the wing. Malone was there in front to send the puck into the net. [Pens 1, Devils 0]

Malone scores!!!

Geno and Ryan celebrate the goal.

They almost added another mark on the scoreboard immediately after that when Paul Martin turned the puck over right in front of Brodeur, but Brodeur was ready for it and stopped the shot. John Oduya was then called for tripping Geno. On the ensuing power play, Jeff Taffe scored a goal that was immediately waived off. Upon seeing the replay it is evident that he kicked the puck into the net. The Pens didn't score on the advantage. Just as the penalty ended, Ty Conklin made a HUGE save on Jamie Langenbrunner. Rod Pelley took a shot on an odd man rush, but Conks made another huge save. Pelley then smashed Brooks Orpik into the boards on the next play. After the Devils got away with a blatant trip, Geno passed the puck as he was going to the right to ex-Devil Petr Sykora as he was going left. Sykora, who ironically earned his first NHL goal while playing for the Devils in a game against the Penguins, scored the goal that was his 600th career point. [Pens 2, Devils 0]

The team celebrates Sykora's milestone.

The Pens celebrate some more.

Brodeur reacts to the Pens' second goal.

Clarkson was being a pain in the ass all night. This time, he had a bit of a shoving match with Ruutu, though the two never came to blows. Just a little bit later, he had words with Laraque. Laraque went to hit him during the next play, but Clarkson stood his ground. Laraque took the worst of it and went down to the ice. Marc-Andre Fleury (remember him?) gave an interview in which he said he received an honor from his old school and that he skated in the morning's practice. He predictably said that he's looking forward to coming back. Following a series of turnovers by both teams, Elias took a hard, quick shot that Conks was able to block.

Conks blocks Elias.

With just over 2 minutes left in the second period, Crusher took another penalty for hooking. The crowd was booing the Devils on their power play because they just weren't doing anything. It served as motivation when, just before the penalty expired, Parise took a shot and Langenbrunner scored on the rebound. [Pens 2, Devils 1] Staal almost got it right back on the next play, but Brodeur stopped him. The second period ended with the Pens up by a goal.

Laraque has a go at Clarkson.

Just after the start of the third, Malone was called for hooking. The Devils did not score on the advantage. Then, Sykora was tripped up by Clarkson. On the ensuing power play, Sykora was absolutely robbed of a goal by Brodeur. Not to worry, though, because Kris Letang got the puck and passed it to Talbot, who then sent it out to Staal for a one-timer that made it past Brodeur. [Pens 3, Devils 1]

Staal scored, but I don't think this is a shot of it... :-P

The Devils got it back a few minutes later, however, when Elias weaved in and around the Pens' defensemen. He fired a shot that took a lucky bounce off the shin pad of Letang and into the net. [Pens 3, Devils 2] Less than 90 seconds later, Clarkson tied the game by scoring on a rebound from a shot by Oduya.

Later, Colby Armstrong and Vishnevski had words in front of the refs. Army gave Vishnevski a little shove, so Vishnevski lobbed his left fist into Army's chin. Vishnevski was given a roughing penalty, and Army was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Neither team scored on the 4-on-4. Just before the end of the third period, Zajac and Ruutu collided at center ice. Instead of getting up and taking it like a man, Zajac decided to throw a little fit and hang onto Ruutu's arm. Ruutu struggled to get up (and get noticed) for several seconds. For the life of me, I do not understand how the refs did not possibly see this happening. Whatever. The period ended with the teams tied. In overtime, the Devils got away with hooking Staal. That incident led to Parise being able to score the game winning goal.

THAT was one tough loss. The Pens don't play again until Thursday when they return to Pittsburgh to face the Islanders at 7:30pm Eastern. GO PENS!!!


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