Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Pens v Islanders (W 4-2)

I want to start this recap out by saying a big thank you and sending wishes of good luck to both Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen. I realize the chances that they'll ever see this are slim to nil, but I have to put it out there into the universe. They were both great players for the Pens who will definitely be missed. Honestly, while trading Crusher sucked, it wasn't exactly a shock - after all, running a hockey club is running a business, but I'm just sick over the loss of Army...

Good Luck, Army! Good Luck, Crush! Thanks for everything!!!
You'll both be missed. :(

With the loss of Erik Christensen and Colby Armstrong following the trade deadline today, the Pens found themselves starting this game with a short bench as they awaited the arrival of recalled players Connor James and Nathan Smith. During the second intermission, James told FSN Pittsburgh reporter Dan Potash that he was at the Wilkes-Barre Wegman's grocery store with a broken cell phone today when his coach had the grocery store page him to give him the news that he and Smith had to get into a car and drive to New York. (Okay, for about two and a half years, my older sister lived literally less than 10 minutes away from the Wachovia Arena in Wilkes-Barre. The Wegman's is just a few blocks away from the arena. I've been in that Wegman's store dozens of times and never ONCE did I hear a player get paged over the intercom! :P ) James and Smith finally arrived in the middle of the second period.

Isn't this an awesome picture of Geno?

There were a bunch of penalties early in the game. First, Jordan Staal went to the box for holding. During his penalty, Ruslan Fedotenko was called for hooking, though admittedly it was a questionable call. During the 4-on-4, Jarrko Ruutu took a penalty for hooking. In all the madness, neither team scored. The next event worth mentioning didn't come until nearly halfway through the period: Petr Sykora fired a shot that Rick DiPietro blocked. The rebound went to the side of the cage, and as Syko was about to regain possession, Evgeni Malkin swooped in like a man possessed and stole it from his teammate. Geno came out from behind the net skating backwards. After he had come out far enough to get a good look at the net, he sniped a shot right past DiPietro. [Pens 1, Isles 0]

The Pens celebrate Geno's goal.

Later, Sergei Gonchar took a penalty for holding. Less than 30 seconds into the Islanders' power play, Ryan Whitney attempted to clear the puck but sent it up and over the glass. For that he was given a delay of game penalty. Fortunately, Ty Conklin was up to the task. While the Isles were held scoreless during their power play, the Pens' bench got even shorter after Rob Scuderi blocked a shot with his hand. The puck hit his pinkie finger, which sandwiched it between the puck and his stick. Bob Errey described it like this: "It's a pressure thing. The finger kind of explodes." (Um, ew.) Poor Scuds was bleeding as he left the ice. He would not return to the game.

Overhead view of the game action

Right off a faceoff, Richard Park was given a penalty for holding the stick. During the ensuing Pens' power play, the Isles tried everything they could to get a shorthanded goal. With 24 seconds left on Park's penalty, Bruno Gervais was called for hooking. Right after the 5-on-3 began, Tyler Kennedy fired a quick, close shot that DiPietro blocked. Andy Hilbert for some reason did not try to help his goalie, which left the puck right in front of Jeff Taffe. He easily banged it into the open net. [Pens 2, Isles 0] The Pens still had 1:51 left on the penalty to Gervais. Josef Vasicek attempted to clear the puck but it jumped up over the Isles' bench and hit assistant coach Gerard Gallant squarely between the eyes. He immediately put a towel over his forehead and went down the runway. He, too, did not return for the remainder of the game. The Pens did not score on the remaining power play. The first period ended with the Pens up by two.

Geno works his magic.

The second began with yet another penalty. Staal went this time for high sticking. Despite the fact that Ruutu lost his stick, the Isles did not capitalize on their advantage. Conks was stunning - I MEAN STUNNING - for the entire game. WOW. He's one hell of a goalie. He made 2 beautiful back to back saves on Miroslav Satan to keep the Isles scoreless. Georges Laraque took a penalty for hooking hunter at the blue line. On the ensuing Isles' power play, Staal broke his stick. The Pens aggressively killed the penalty. Because the Isles didn't score, the crowd booed the home team. Later the Isles had a 2-on-0 chance, but as one passed the puck to the other, Whit was close behind, so he was able to put his stick out between them to break up the play just in time. More than halfway through the second period, Jeff Tambellini shot the puck on net and Frans Nielsen deflected it in past Conks. [Pens 2, Isles 1]

What a freakin' goalie!

Laraque was called for high sticking. The Pens had more chances than the Isles did on the ensuing Islanders' power play. Staal got control of the puck after the Isles turned it over to him in their own zone. He then sent it to Ruutu, who couldn't take the pass cleanly. The Isles didn't score on their power play. With one second left on Laraque's penalty, Gonchar got the puck. He softly sent the puck to the door of the penalty box, where it met Laraque as he emerged. Unfortunately, a man of that size can't possibly keep up with a guy like Geno. Laraque was unable to get the puck to Geno for a shot.

Later, Kris Letang screwed up (badly) turning the puck over right in front of Conks. Luckily, Conks was able to hold down the fort and prevent Nielson from scoring. With 1:26 left in the period, Letang then went to the box for slashing. We've talked before about how Staal deserves to get a goal for all his hard work. He gave us another show by not giving up and staying with the puck - shorthanded, remember - against 2 Islanders. He managed to fire a quick backhander that barely missed the net. The Islanders did not score on their advantage. The second period ended with the Pens still in the lead.

Early in the third, Conks ROBBED the Isles. Rob Davison got a chance to shoot the puck on a wide open net. Meanwhile, Conks saw this happening and scrambled to get back over to the other side just in time to block the shot with his head. Unreal. Later, Radek Martinek took a penalty for holding. During the Pens' power play, Geno had a rush and split the D, but DiPietro made a nice save on his shot. The Pens didn't score on their advantage. Conks made an amazing poke check to strip Park of a chance to shoot the puck.

Ty Conklin = brick wall


Michelle won't have to spit in Lady Luck's face afterall: The Isles were given a delayed penalty. Conks left the ice in favor of the extra attacker. That attacker was none other than Staal. Geno sent a pretty cross ice pass to Staal as he came off the bench. Staal then promptly SCORED!!! (That had to feel soooooo good!) [Pens 3, Isles 1] Then, Sykora was hit by Martinek. He limped as he went to the bench. Paul Steigerwald said, "I wonder if it's a high ankle sprain." Errey then said what we were all thinking, "DON'T EVEN SAY THAT!!!" I still don't know what's going on with him. He didn't leave the bench, but he didn't get back on the ice, either...

FINALLY!!! w00t!!!

Fedotenko took another penalty. During the ensuing power play, Whit made a fantastic pass to Connor James, who was 1-on-none. After a more than 3 hour, last minute drive from Wilkes-Barre to New York, James scored his first NHL goal! [Pens 4, Isles 1]

Conner James scores his first NHL goal.

James celebrates his goal.

Right off the very next faceoff, Tyler Kennedy and Mike Comrie dropped their gloves and went at it. It was hilarious! Kennedy beat the snot out of Hilary Duff's boyfriend. (Yeah, Steigy called Kennedy the "Little Tiger" again after that.)

Kennedy v Comrie

Kennedy v Comrie

Kennedy v Comrie

It must have given the Isles a little momentum though, as they were able to draw a penalty on Malkin with less than 1:30 left in the game. Fedotenko scored, ending a streak of more than 20 scoreless power plays. [Pens 4, Isles 2] In the last seconds of the game, DiPietro went behind his cage and put a check on Ruutu, but the Isles would not be able to pull DiPietro because the Pens kept possession of the puck.

Make NO MISTAKE: Ty Conklin was the ONLY reason the Pens won the game tonight. He was absolutely incredible. Wow.

This guy is unreal.

Tomorrow marks the first practice with newly acquired players Marian Hossa, Pascal Dupuis, and Hal Gill. I will definitely keep you posted with any news as I get it. GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!


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