Friday, April 11, 2008

Round 1 Game 2: Pens v Sens (W 5-3)

Unbelievable. That was intense. As a result, this is one of the longest recaps I'll ever write. Hopefully, you've got enough time to read it all! :) The Pens had a playoff record breaking 53 shots on goal tonight. (The previous record was a game on April 26, 1970 against the St. Louis Blues with 49 shots on goal.) After blowing a 3-0 lead, Ryan Malone came out and scored the game winning goal AND the insurance marker 55 seconds apart with less than 2 minutes to go in the game. (Didn't we warn you that this was going to be a wild ride?)

First, though I have to mention this: Dan Potash interviewed Gary Roberts before the start of the game. Potash actually had the stones to say the following to GR's face: "They say that before the boogie man goes to bed, he checks his closet for you." AWESOME!!! Speaking of Mr. Roberts, if you subscribe to the WWGRD philosophy of life but you missed out on the previous wristband sale that Adam and Derek of and I organized at the beginning of the season, you're in luck: the boys have decided to reissue the wristbands for a second round of sales. If you're interested, you can get all the information about how to order your wristband here.

Right out of the gate, the top line of Sidney, Marian Hossa, and Pascal Dupuis fired a handful of pucks at Martin Gerber. Brooks Orpik made a sweet play to keep the puck in the offensive zone so the Pens' assault could continue. Alas, the Pens didn't get a goal for their efforts. If you thought the refs were looking the other way for the Sens on Wednesday, they were really letting the Sens get away with murder [*cough, cough*] tonight. The first incident saw Mad Max Talbot take a butt end of a stick to his mouth, but the refs didn't call it. Gerber made a good save on a shot by Hossa, then made a great save on a shot on the rebound by Dupuis. (NOTE - At the 14:42 mark, Bob Errey messed up Scary Gary's name. He said, "Gary Cros... Gary Roberts." No word on how long Errey has left to live.)

Sidney and Evgeni Malkin went nuts all night. Those two put on an amazing show. Sid was hitting guys, setting up plays, and backchecking like he was a defender, and Geno was carrying the puck like it was magnetically connected to the blade of his stick. Jordan Staal went to the net and took a whack at the puck which connected with Gerber. Andrej Meszaros came in to defend his goalie by knocking Staal down. Meszaros predictably took a penalty for roughing, but somehow Staal got penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. On the ensuing 4-on-4, Bugsy went down HARD and slammed the back of his head off the ice. Thank God for helmets! He was a little slow to get up, but he seemed okay. Neither team scored on the 4-on-4.

After emerging from the box, Staal had a golden opportunity with Gerber down low, but Staal shot the puck low. No worries, though, because Anton Volchenkov was assessed a holding penalty as Gerber made the save. You should know that the Mellon Arena announcers have restored the old tradition of playing the Jaws theme prior to a Penguins power play. Bugsy may be directly responsible for this, as he mentioned in an interview in the Postseason 2008 issue of Faceoff Magazine (which is a free publication, BTW, so use that link and sign up for it!) this: "I remember the 'Jaws' music playing for the power play. I wish they would play the 'Jaws' music when I'm on the power play now." During the Penguins' power play, GR leveled Antoine Vermette with a giant hit prompting the crowd to shout, "GAR-Y, GAR-Y, GAR-Y!!!" But the Pens didn't score on their advantage. Just a few minutes later, GR went to the locker room with an equipment problem. Then Bugsy and Mike Commodore collided near the boards. Malone went down to the ice hard again and appeared to hit his head again. He was slow to get up and back to the bench, and as soon as the play was stopped, he left the ice for the locker room.

Big Georges Laraque drew a slashing penalty on Chris Neil. Before the Pens' power play began, FSN Pittsburgh cut to a shot of Mario and Nathalie Lemieux watching the game from their luxury suite. Le Magnifique is sporting a little playoff facial hair!!! About a minute into the Pens' power play, Sid drew a holding penalty on Chris Phillips. With literally one second left on the ensuing 5-on-3, Sid sent the puck to Geno, who sent the puck to Sergei Gonchar, who blasted a shot into the net from the point while GR screened Gerber. [Pens 1, Sens 0] The Pens still had an entire minute on the power play, but they were a little sloppy and didn't score. The crowd began a taunting chant: "GER-ber, GER-ber, GER-ber!!!"

GR hit Martin Lapointe so hard that Lapointe lost his stick. Then Lapointe came back and interfered with GR with a little knee on knee action. Of course, the refs didn't call it. Lapointe was stupid enough to get in GR's face, but the refs escorted GR away - BUT not before GR was clearly seen saying the words, "It's coming." (Wow. Lapointe probably won't sleep for a month now.) The first period ended with the Pens ahead by a goal.

During the first intermission, we're told that Bugsy has a "lower body injury," but that he would return for the second period. They were wise to not reveal the injury's exact location, in light of the Don Brennan debacle. Speaking of that idiot, Friend of The Show Carroll left a comment with this link to Brennan's account of his encounter with BGL. From it, I got today's Quote of the Day: "Do you think the movie Slapshot is real?" asked Big Georges. ZING!!! Also, if you've got a minute, check out this article from The Sens Army Blog that good Friend of The Show Frank D. of sent me. In it, they take a look at a Sports Illustrated article that pairs up some NHLers with their Hollywood lookalikes. It's frickin' hilarious! :D

The second period began with an interesting game of musical sticks. Orpik's stick broke in the defensive zone, so Sidney quickly handed over his stick to the defender. As he did so, he made a sweet baseball-style dive to break up a play. Hossa then gave Sid his stick so the captain could play deep. It was a significant play because it demonstrated how in tune these guys really are with one another.

GR carried the puck over the blue line and left a drop pass for Hossa. While GR drove hard to the net, Hossa lined up and fired a shot. GR was going for the rebound as Phillips crosschecked him in the ear! It was called as a high stick, and the Pens went on the man-advantage. Insanity broke out in front of Gerber, but somehow he managed to prevent the Pens from scoring. Then at the other end of the ice, Gonch got in a tangle with Vermette. Gonch smartly didn't bite. Then there was a delay as squeegies and shovels were brought out to the ice to clean up what XM Radio referred to as "an adult beverage incident." Presumably, someone threw a beer onto the ice. (Nice.) During the break in the action, FSN showed a little montage of all the liberties the Sens were taking on GR tonight. Unreal. After the ice was repaired, the Pens power play wasted little time when Sid sent the puck to Geno, who sent the puck to Petr Sykora, who then tipped the puck in Gerber's back door. [Pens 2, Sens 0] It wasn't really Gerber's fault. He had no help from his defense.

Mad Max took a stick in the face from Gerber and then an elbow from Cory Stillman, neither of which were called. The hits kept coming as GR drilled Commordore into next week, BGL missed a Senator that Mad Max finished off, and Geno nailed Neil behind Marc-Andre Fleury as Orpik was called for interference. On the ensuing Senators' power play, Dupuis and Mad Max both lost their sticks at one point, but MAF was up to the task and made a stunning save to keep the Sens scoreless. Just a few seconds later, Flower's feet were tied up as Jason Spezza found himself with a wide open net. MAF made an OUTSTANDING save as he flopped over and used his chest to stop Spezza's shot. WOW. The Sens didn't score on their advantage. Just as Orpik was released from the box, Geno made a beautiful diving pass to give Orpik the breakaway. Orpik was nearly able to go 5-hole on Gerber, but Gerber shut the door. The Pens were able to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Geno got it and faked a shot that completely froze Gerber. Geno then quickly sent it to Syko, who blasted it into the wide open net with a one-timer. [Pens 3, Sens 0]

Just a few seconds later, though, the Senators started to open things up when Shean Donovan drove hard to the net as Neil fired a shot. Donovan was there to deflect the shot into the net. [Pens 3, Sens 1]

The Sens then got a delayed penalty during which MAF left the ice as the Pens basically toyed with the Sens while trying to create a lane. Christoph Schubert was sent to the box for hooking. On the Pens' power play, Syko got a lead pass for a breakaway, but Gerber made a nice save on him. The Pens didn't score on their power play. Tyler Kennedy took a costly penalty for hooking. During the Sens' power play, Dany Heatley fired a shot from the point, and Stillman was in front to poke it into the net. [Pens 3, Sens 2] With less than 10 seconds to go in the period, Sidney hit the post with a shot as he careened into the boards again. We all held our breaths (again!!!) as Sid got up and thankfully was okay. The second period ended with the Pens ahead by a goal.

The third period started with an unreal miss by Hossa or an AMAZING save by Gerber. (Your perception depends on where your loyalties lie.) Dupuis created a situation that drew Gerber out. Dupuis fired a shot, and Hossa came around the corner of the net behind Gerber. He should have been able to shuffle that puck in the empty net behind Gerber as easily as K-Fed spends Britney's money, but WAIT! Gerber poked his stick out behind himself to get his stick on the puck and tripped Hossa so he couldn't gain control of the puck. WTF. To add insult to injury, it was not called as a penalty. It fell into that gray area because if you're a Pens fan, you will look at that play and see a trip EVERY TIME. If you're a Sens fan, you will see Hossa skate into Gerber's stick as Gerber poked the puck away. Either way you see it, it always ends the same: Hossa doesn't score.

Later, while Geno was on a breakaway, it looked like Meszaros slashed him. Geno ended up going down and plowing into Gerber. Of course, no call was made. A little after that, Cody Bass had an opportunity to poke at a loose puck in front of MAF not once but twice. He missed the first time but not the second time. [Pens 3, Sens 3] Just a few minutes later, the Saint was almost able to sneak one in with a quick shot from the corner, but Gerber was able to stop the puck from crossing the line at the last second.

Geno got tripped up a few more times that weren't called, once as he made an AMAZING move to get the puck around Volchenkov. Gerber stopped another pretty shot from Sidney, and Donovan and Kris Letang collided late (and off-camera). THEN THE FSN FEED FROZE. After 3 or 4 tense minutes, the feed came back as a stickless Flower made a nice save. Evidently, we also missed Letang trip a Senator and not get called for it. A melee ensued in front of MAF that ended with Neil and Hal Gill going to their respective penalty boxes for roughing. Neither team scored on the 4-on-4. More non-calls came when Bugsy and MAF were both taken down. Apparently, though, Bugsy slashed a Senator and broke his stick at some point (I didn't see it - I heard about it in the postgame reviews) that wasn't called, either. (Turnabout is fairplay, after all...)

There was 1:14 left in the game. Pens Nation was certain this thing was heading to OT. But then the refs finally found their whistles again when Jarrko Ruutu took one for the team as Lapointe high sticked him in the eye.

On the ensuing Pens power play, Sidney protected the puck like a beast as Gerber got tied up in his own defenseman. Bugsy got the puck and came around from behind the cage and scored the game winning goal on the wrap around. [Pens 4, Sens 3]

Pens Nation didn't dare celebrate yet, though, because there were still 62 long seconds before the Penguins could claim the victory. With 16 seconds left in the game, Gerber was pulled in favor of the extra attacker. Bryan Murray gambled - and lost. Hossa got possession and sent it to Bugsy, who was wide open at center ice. He easily scored the empty netter with a mere :06.5 seconds left on the clock. [Pens 5, Sens 3] Time ticked away and the Pens won the game and took a 2-0 series lead!!!

The teams next meet on Monday at 7:00pm Eastern at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.

GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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