Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pens v Devils (W 7-1)

Looks like the Penguins' lucky number is seven!!! First up, though - earlier today, a big step was made towards getting the new arena construction going:

After missing the majority of the 1st period, State College Comcast switched their FSN feed from Detroit back to the usual Pittsburgh feed. The teams were tied at one with less than 2 minutes left in the period when the switch was made. Jarrko Ruutu was trying to goad David Clarkson into a penalty but ended up taking one of his own at the very end of the first, so the Pens started the second period shorthanded. Steelers owner Dan Rooney, who presented Sid with the American Ireland Fund award recently, and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger joined Sid in Mario's box for tonight's game. It's really nice to see the Steelers supporting the Pens! Rooney apparently said that he wished Sid was a football player because he likes the Saint so much. Sid was laughing and seemed to be having a good time with the NFL'ers. Ty Conklin joined Paul Steigerwald and Bob Errey as a third announcer. FSN Pittsburgh put up a graphic that incorrectly identified him as a Penguins forward. Ugh.

Brian Gionta scored the Devils' only goal.

The period began with Ruutu in the box. During the Devils' power play, it appeared that Marc-Andre Fleury lost site of the puck. As he was down on the ice on his rear, the puck was on its edge as it rolled along the outside of the goal line. It curved in favor of the Pens and rolled past the goal post, keeping the game tied at 1 goal each. Marian Hossa sent the puck to Evgeni Malkin for a shorthanded chance, but Martin Brodeur made the save. The Devils didn't score on their power play.

It was REALLY lucky that the puck didn't roll across the goal line.

Steigy asked Conks what he thought of the fact that Sid said that he was "old school" and compared him to Brodeur. Conks humbly replied, "That's, uh, SHOCKING." (By this time, FSN corrected the graphic and ID'ed Conks as a goalie.) Pascal Dupuis took a penalty for high sticking. Twenty-seven seconds into the Devils' power play, Zach Parise plows into Flower. He was called for goaltender interference. On the 4-on-4, Jordan Staal made a beautiful play, passing the puck to himself between John Oduya's legs, but his shot hit the freaking goal post!! Neither team scored on the 4-on-4, and the Pens didn't score on the remainder of the penalty to Parise.

Staal later went to the box for tripping, but it would be the Pens who would put on the best show. It began when Ryan Malone passed the puck to Dupuis. Remember it was the Devils' power play, but Dupuis and Malone went streaking down the ice, 2-on-1 against Paul Martin. Dupuis had the puck and Brodeur braced himself for a shot from Dupuis, as did Martin. Malone was unchallenged in front of a wide open net on the other side. Dupuis saw this and passed the puck to him. [Pens 2, Devils 1] It was the Penguins 5th shorthanded goal of the season. The crowd began a "MAR-ty, MAR-ty, MAR-ty!!!" chant. Tyler Kennedy was wide open as he took a pass from Ruutu just before the period ended, but Brodeur made a great save just before the period ended.

MAF is performing extremely well since returning from his high ankle sprain.

The third was when the floodgates were opened on the Devils. Staal had a 1-on-0 chance against Brodeur. He managed to get a shot on net while Dainius Zubrus hooked him. Staal veered to the side as Zubrus plowed into Brodeur and dislodged the net. The puck went into the goal, but it was waived off because it was impossible to tell if it went in before or after the net came off its moorings. Zubrus went to the box for the hook, and a mere 8 seconds later, Malone redirected a nice shot from Sergei Gonchar past Brodeur. The goal had to be reviewed up in the War Room in Toronto to determine that Bugsy didn't put a high stick on the puck. After a little waiting, we learned that the goal stood. [Pens 3, Devils 1] The crowd chanted "MAR-ty, MAR-ty, MAR-ty!!!" again.

There were a pair of scary incidents tonight, the first of which was when Geno was down on the ice grimacing in pain following a big hit from John Madden. The trainers came out to help him, and he signaled that the wind was knocked out of him. (WHEW!) Dupuis, Hossa, and Staal had an unreal shift again. It culminated with Dupuis being able to sneak the puck right past Brodeur. [Pens 4, Devils 1] It came less than 2 minutes after Bugsy's goal. More chants of "MAR-ty, MAR-ty, MAR-ty!!!"

Bugsy scores his second goal of the game.

Brodeur must have been shaken because, immediately afterwards, he was attempting to clear the puck, but it hit Big George Laraque (back from his 3-game suspension) in the chest. Laraque sent the puck out to a Pen (I didn't see who) for a quick shot, but Brodeur was able to block it. After that, though, Brodeur left the game due to "skate problems" and Kevin Weekes came out to replace him. It should be noted that in 57 starts at the Mellon Arena, Brodeur has been chased out of 10 of those games. No other team has been able to chase Brodeur as many times as the Penguins have.

Zubrus was later called for holding. On the ensuing power play, Geno joined the 100-point club as he fired a shot that went right past a Devils defender and through the goalie's 5-hole. [Pens 5, Devils 1] The crowd chanted "GE-no, GE-no, GE-no!!!" in congratulatory appreciation.


The pressure started getting to the Devils as there were simultaneous confrontations between Zubrus & Ruutu and Clarkson & Hal Gill on the next play. Neither pair ended up fighting, though. A few minutes later, Geno pushed forward off a faceoff to the right of goaltender Weekes. Geno got the puck and took it around the back of the cage. He lost the puck as he attempted to make a wrap around but recovered it in time to blast it through traffic. [Pens 6, Devils 1] The crowd began a "GO HOME, DEVILS!!!" chant.

The Pens bother Brodeur.

The nastiness reached its peak a few minutes later when the second scary moment happened. Travis Zajac hit Gonch into the boards from behind while Gonch was in a vulnerable position. To be fair I have to mention that Zajac did back off a bit just before hitting Gonch, but it still really could have resulted in a terrible injury. Staal and Brooks Orpik immediately bum rushed Zajac in defense of their superstar defenseman. Jamie Langenbrunner and Karel Rachunek came in to defend their teammate against the Penguins. Dupuis came over to even things up. Orpik dominated Rachunek, while Dupuis and Langenbrunner got into the worst of the fights. Meanwhile, Gonch got himself back up and seemed to be able to shake off the hit. After the insanity was brought under control, the penalties were handed out: Zajac was given a 5 minute boarding major and a 2 minute roughing, Langenbrunner was given 2 for roughing, Staal was given 2 for roughing, and Dupuis was given 2 for roughing. The Pens ended up with a five minute power play but were unable to capitalize on their extended advantage.

Thank God he wasn't hurt. It was an UGLY hit.

With just over a minute and a half left in the game, Geno made an unbelievable pass through the Devils defenders to Syko, who promptly chipped it into the net. [Pens 7, Devils 1] More cries of "GO HOME, DEVILS!!!" were heard until the Mellon horn sounded to indicate the end of the game. The Pens got the HUGE divisional win to take first place in the Atlantic Division!!! :)

The Pens face the New York Islanders on Monday at 7:00pm Eastern (← that game will be broadcast on Versus), then they have a rematch with the Devils in New Jersey on Tuesday. GO PENS!!!!!!!


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