Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pens v Rangers (L 2-5)

Nobody wanted the puck tonight. At least that's how it seemed - both teams turned the puck over so many times I lost count. The Pens had a pretty slow start. Ty Conklin made a few nice saves early on, none nicer than the stick save he made on super annoying superjerk Sean Avery: A bad bounce went right to Avery while Conks was behind the net attempting to play the puck. The net was empty and no Penguins defenders were close enough to stop what was happening. Conks reached out from the corner of the net and extended his big goalie stick across the opening of the net as Avery attempted to sweep the puck over the goal line. WOW.

Scott Gomez was given the night's first (and the 1st period's only) penalty. He was called for hooking, but the Pens didn't capitalize on their advantage. The Rangers made the first mark on the board when ex-Pen Jaromir Jagr left a drop pass for Avery, who fired one home from the point. [Pens 0, Rangers 1] Forty seconds later, they doubled their lead when Ryan Callahan scored after Conks was unable to control a rebound. [Pens 0, Rangers 2]

Hal Gill put a big hit on Avery prompting expressions of ire from the crowd. Marian Hossa later stole the puck at neutral ice, made it around the Rangers defense, and streaked down the far side with the puck. He was going to pass the puck to Jordan Staal, who was wide open in front of Henrik Lundqvist, but Fedor Tyutin (who was just a step behind Staal) literally threw himself down to the ice and slid in front of the pass to break up the play. Tyutin looked like a baseball player sliding into home!

The Pens had two more chances (Lundqvist robbed Ryan Malone with a glove save and Mad Max Talbot had a 2-on-1 with Tyler Kennedy, but Kennedy's shot went way up over the goal), but the first period ended with the Rangers ahead by 2 goals.

During the intermission, we were told about a 17 year old Russian named Vlad. He lost his legs in a train accident near Moscow, and he came to the USA for rehabilitation. During his stay in Ohio, he watched the Penguins. He was able to attend the Pens/Flyers game. While at the Mellon Arena, Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar were nice enough to invite Vlad into the locker room for a visit and some photos. :)

Early in the 2nd, Jarrko Ruutu, our unlikely shootout hero, got a stunning breakaway while the Rangers were changing. No Rangers were even close to him - Max and Kennedy were right behind him for a 3-on-0. Ruutu made a nice move to get it past Lunqvist. [Pens 1, Rangers 2]

One minute and thirty-three seconds later, Pascal Dupuis swooped in and took control of the puck in the corner behind the net after a miscommunication between Lundqvist and his defensemen. Dupuis then sent the puck to Staal, who was in the corner on the opposite side of Lundqvist. Staal banged the puck on goal; Lunqvist made the save. Staal got his own rebound and banged at it again and this time got it past the goalie. [Pens 2, Rangers 2]

Just 44 seconds after that, however, Kris Letang Ryan Whitney made an awful decision to make a pass to Staal out in the center of their own zone. It wouldn't have been such a big deal if Fredrik Sjostrom wasn't there... but he was, and since Letang Whit and Daryl Sydor were opposite corners, Sjostrom went 1-on-0 against Conks. [*Sigh*] [Pens 2, Rangers 3] (Thanks to Linda for correcting my error - I had accused the wrong Penguin defender of the flub that led directly to this goal.)

It only got worse. After having a confrontation, both Malone and Avery went to their respective boxes for unsportsmanlike conduct. With just 1 second left on the 4-on-4, Dupuis was called for hooking. On the ensuing Rangers power play, Brooks Orpik made a huge play to keep the puck on the goal line (it has to cross it completely to count as a goal) as Conks pinched his legs together to freeze it there. The ref immediately signaled a "NO GOAL." The Rangers did not score on their power play.

FSN Pittsburgh cut to a shot of the dads sitting together in a luxury suite with none other than OUR MAN SID sitting in the middle. The dad closest to the camera started wiping the small panel of safety glass in front of his seat. Then Sid and his father started picking at the glass in front of their seats. (Was there gunk on the glass? Ewww.) Anyhoo, one dad in attendance tonight was making his first appearance at a dads' night in his son's career, despite having had many previous opportunities to join his son's teammates' fathers over the past two decades - it was the father of Gary Roberts!!! Friend of The Show Stephanie S. sent in this story about tonight's dads' night from NHL.com. There's a really nice story about Ryan Whitney and his dad in the article. (Thanks, Stephanie!) Also in attendance tonight was New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Malone made a sweet poke check on Avery at center ice and got the puck to Petr Sykora. He sent the puck to Geno. Malone, meanwhile, had raced down to the front of the net. Geno passed the puck to Malone, who was open. Lundqvist just got a piece of the puck to make the save. Then Staal was given a penalty for tripping. What a bad call that was! I believe it was Gomez (I forgot to write the Ranger's name down in my notes) tripped himself on Staal's stick as he skated by him, but Staal went to the box anyways. During the Rangers' power play, Geno was blatantly tripped but no call was made. He was able to set up an offensive chance, though, when he sent the puck to Malone. He passed the puck to Letang, who faked a shot then passed it back to Geno, but Geno's shot was blocked by Chris Drury. The Rangers didn't score on their advantage.

Close to the end of the second period, FSN's cameras went to the Pens' bench. It showed Avery doing something to Ruutu as Ruutu was attempting to go over the wall in front of the bench. (Have I mentioned lately that I hate that guy?) Of course this was happening behind the ref. Then Brandon Dubinsky put a big hit on Letang, and Malone rushed over to make sure he knew that it wasn't appreciated. As FSN went to commercial, they showed Avery crying to the ref about something. He should be careful what he wishes for - if the refs start watching him, they'll likely catch him doing more wrong than they will catch wrongs being done to him. The second period ended with the Rangers enjoying a one goal lead.

The third period began with Staal flying towards the goal. As Dupuis crashed the net, he was upended in front of Lundqvist, which prevented him from getting a stick on the puck. Paul Steigerwald vehemently thought there should have been a penalty called, but no such luck for the Pens. Drury then fired a shot that took a strange bounce (there were a lot of those tonight, too). It went straight up above Conklin's head about 3 or 4 feet. Luckily, it came back down away from the goal line. The luck wouldn't stay with the Pens for long, though. Conks went down low to try to stop a shot, but it went by him right to the stick of Avery. Conks had no help from his defenders as Avery was able to settle the puck and make a calculated shot into the wide open net. [Pens 2, Rangers 4]

It was about this time when I realized I would have to listen to the Rangers fans singing "Sweet Caroline" if the Pens didn't kick it into high gear soon... For now, though, they began chanting "Re-sign Av-ery! Re-sign Av-ery!!" Oy vey.

There were a couple more turnovers and giveaways by both teams. Dupuis was hassled by Dubinsky more than once. Dubinsky eventually knocked Dupuis down to the ice. Somehow Dupuis avoided taking a retaliatory penalty for taking a whack at Dubinsky with his stick. Then, as he left the ice, Dupuis was confronted by that pest Avery, but the ref stepped in and made sure Dupuis made it to the bench without throwing a punch. Later, Geno attempted to clear the puck from his own zone. Drury was able to keep the puck in and fire a shot from the blue line. Ex-Pen Martin Straka was hanging out in front of the net all by himself and easily redirected the puck underneath Conks. [Pens 2, Rangers 5]

With just under six minutes left in the game, they did it. The fans were singing "Sweet Caroline." Uuuugggghhhh. Lunqvist got a little help from Michal Rozsival to stop Malone from taking a shot, but that would be the last chance the Pens would get.

As much as it sucks to say it, the Rangers played with more passion and really earned this win. They just played better hockey than the Pens did, hands down. Another thing that sucks is that the Rangers were able to shut out the Pens' top line (Malone, Geno, Syko). Now I'm going to just go to bed and forget this game even happened. :P

The Pens face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday for their last non-divisional game of the regular season. GO PENS!!!!!!!


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