Saturday, February 02, 2008

Pens v Hurricanes (W 4-1)

Alright. Here's the story: I'm not going to spend too much time recapping the first and second periods of this game for you. Why, you ask? Because the Pens didn't really show up for the game until the third period anyways, so I don't have much to tell you about the other 2 periods.

Basically, the first period was quick, quick, quick. The Canes were setting the pace for the game. Every time one of the Pens got the puck, a Cane was all over him like a cheap suit. A fight that's been in the works since 03-04-2006 got underway when Erik Cole and Brooks Orpik finally went to blows, though I have to tell you that the fight was really lame. Neither man really got a good hit on the other; all that really happened was that Orpik pulled Cole's jersey and chest protector up and over his head. They were both assessed 5 minutes for fighting. (Incidentally, for anyone who wasn't aware, Orpik broke Cole's neck with that hit.) Later, after the Canes worked the puck in the Penguins' zone, Rod Brind'Amour passed the puck to Andrew Ladd, who went to pass the puck from behind the net to the point, but the puck bounced off Mad Max Talbot's skate and right to the stick of Sergei Samsonov. He had no trouble getting the puck past Ty Conklin. It would be Conklin's only mistake of the game. [Pens 0, Canes 1]

Conks prevents Cory Stillman from scoring.

Evgeni Malkin had an exceptionally rough start. He turned over the puck more than a few times. It seemed almost as if he was trying too hard to make something happen offensively for the Pens. The Canes were taking a few liberties - Mike Commodore lost his stick between Ryan Malone's legs, and Geno was blatantly held by a Cane but no call was made. At one point, Conks came out a little more than halfway to the blue line to play the puck away from the Canes because the Pens defensemen were nowhere to be seen. Jordan Staal earned the night's first penalty when he got caught holding the stick of Chad LaRose. Just as the Canes' power play ended, Trevor Letowski high sticked Max in the face. The ref immediately threw up four fingers to signify that Letowski would spend four minutes in the box because Max was bleeding just above his eyebrow. Despite some nifty moves by Darryl Sydor to keep the puck in the zone, the Canes were able to successfully kill all four minutes of the Pens' power play. The period ended with the Canes up by a goal.

We got to see a lot of Staal on Staal action tonight.

The Canes continued the quick pace throughout the second period. The Pens seemed at times to be just barely able to keep up. Conks kept them in the game almost singlehandedly. Early in the second, FSN Pittsburgh showed our man Sidney sitting with the man Mario way above the crowd in Mario's luxury box. One man was drinking water, the other wine. (I'll let you match the beverage to the consumer.) Sydor took a penalty for delay of game after he popped the puck up and over the glass (with a little help from a Cane). The Canes did not score on their advantage. Malone, Erik "Crusher" Christensen, and Petr Sykora had a number of good chances, but Cam Ward stopped them all. The second period ended with the same score as the first period.

Sykora was the Player of the Game with a goal and an assist.

Now, I can only assume that the Penguins' coaching staff must have threatened the lives of the players' mothers or something because the Pens came out in the third period as a completely different team. First though, FSN showed the owner's box again. This time, a shorter Lemieux was sitting beside Sid. Mario lost his seat to his son, Austin. Immediately at the start of the third, Crusher had a 1-on-1 chance against Gleason. Crusher went to shoot the puck as Gleason gave him a hard crosscheck across his left arm. Then Staal got possession of Crusher's rebound and sent the puck to Max. Max, in turn, passed the puck to Crusher, who had stayed in position after the Gleason incident. Crusher swiftly hammered the puck into the back of the net behind Ward. [Pens 1, Canes 1] He celebrated his goal by sliding on the ice on his knees. Max met him to give him a congratulatory hug and ended up lifting Crusher to his feet. Suddenly, both the Pens and the crowd had new life. And this was just the beginning. The next 13 minutes would rock the Hurricanes' world...

Max and Crusher celebrate the goal that opened the door for the Pens to slaughter the Canes.

It wasn't all good. Max took a penalty for taking Commodore down. It was kind of funny because when Max and Commodore tried to separate to continue playing during the delayed penalty, they had a bit of trouble because the blade of Max's stick was threaded through the blade of Commodore's skate. With seven seconds left on the penalty to Max, Geno was out on the penalty kill and he managed to draw hooking penalty on Bret Hedican. About a minute into the Pens' ensuing power play, Geno shot the puck from the blue line. Malone and Sykora were in front of the net. Malone batted the puck out of the air and between the legs of Ward. The puck trickled through his legs and across the goal line. Ward and Commodore scrambled to sweep the puck out. The goal judge didn't light the lamp, but the play was whistled and Coach Michel Therrien and the Pens' bench were going nuts calling for a review. Finally, the refs decided to contact the War Room in Toronto, which prompted the crowd to erupt in applause. On the replay, it is clear that the puck went over the goal line without any question. Another issue arose, though, when it shows that Malone may have put the puck in the net with a high stick. After waiting about 2 minutes, the verdict comes in: IT'S A GOAL!!! [Pens 2, Canes 1]

Nice try, Cam, but that's clearly a goal.

A few minutes later, from just in front of Conks, Orpik banked the puck off the wall to Geno as he was streaking down the center of the ice. Geno was going too fast for the Canes' defense to keep up with him. Once he made it to the front of the net, he backhanded the puck past Ward for a little insurance. [Pens 3, Canes 1] Right off the next faceoff, Geno took a hooking penalty. The Canes got a chance when Ray Whitney had a shot on the open net, but luckily the puck hit the goal post. The Canes did not score on their power play. Later, Malone powered past one Canes d-man, then repeated the move past the other d-man, but he couldn't get a good shot on goal. He went around the rear of the net and took a shot from the other side that Ward blocked. Kris Letang was there and tried to score on the rebound but to no avail. The Penguins did, however, end up drawing a penalty. Less than 10 seconds into the power play, Sergei Gonchar blasted the puck from the blue line. Ward blocked the shot but didn't corral the puck. BIG MISTAKE. Sykora was in front of the net and was able to knock the rebound into the net with a backhand shot. [Pens 4, Canes 1] The only other noteworthy occurrence was when Georges Laraque drilled Commodore into the boards. Commodore had to jump up to avoid the brunt of the hit, but it was still pretty wicked. The period ended and the Pens won the game!


For those of you who are able to get FSN Pittsburgh, you can check out the Penguins Rewind show tomorrow night at 10:00pm Eastern. It will be 30 minutes of the best goals of the season so far. The next game the Pens play will be against the New Jersey Devils on Monday. The game will be broadcast on Versus, so the start time is 7:00pm Eastern. GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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