Monday, April 14, 2008

Round 1 Game 3: Pens v Sens (W 4-1)

Bad news: Gary Roberts was out of the lineup tonight. He has a groin pull. Somehow, however, the Pens managed to prevail over the Sens again without the services of their resident Senator-killer. It was a game that the Senators had controlled in the early part, but the Pens dug down deep and turned momentum around. They dominated the Sens from the last part of the first period until the end of the game.

The Saint has reached two more achievements. His 4 point night in Game 2 tied a franchise record held by Jaromir Jagr. Ol' Double J scored four points in a playoff game against the Capitals on 4-13-00.

LATE EDIT 2: I didn't make it clear that this record is for most assists. Thanks to Freeptop for pointing out the ambiguity of my statements. :)

Tonight, the goal he scored 12 seconds into the third period became the fastest goal scored at the start of a period in a playoff game in franchise history. The previous record belonged to Ryan Malone's father, Greg, back in 1981 in a game against St. Louis, when he scored 15 seconds into a period.

I just don't know how he can do this!

The crowd was intense, and the sound really came across on TV. I'm really not being facetious here - I think the acoustics in Scotiabank Place are better than the Mellon Arena because I know at Game 1, it was so loud that we had to scream to talk to the people next to us. Anyhoo, the boo-birds were out early tonight. The crowd booed our title man every time he even breathed in the puck's direction. About halfway through the first period, they started booing Geno, too.

The night's first penalty went to Chris Neil. He took Kris Letang down with a clean hit, but for some reason decided it would be a good idea to punch Letang in the face as they slid along the boards together. The funniest part was when he leaped up and ran to the ref to deny any wrongdoing as the ref motioned that he saw him punch him. On the ensuing Pens power play, Marian Hossa hit the goalpost. He hit the goalpost. That would be the best chance they had on that power play. The Pens' first penalty went to Mad Max Talbot for interference on the goalie after he hit Martin Gerber at the side of the net. In Mad Max's defense, Gerber embellished it a bit, but regardless it was goalie interference. Christoph Schubert hit the post, but the Senators didn't score on their power play.

Marc-Andre Fleury was making some spectacular saves. His confidence is really something to watch right now. The score was still 0-0 when the fans began a "FLEU-ry, FLEU-ry, FLEU-ry!!!" chant. I remarked to my husband and my sister, "Aren't you supposed to wait until you're ahead to taunt the goalie? That will come back to haunt them..." Shean Donovan then got caught holding a Penguin's stick (I didn't see whose it was). Gerber looked like a man possessed as he stopped everything that came his way. Just before the end of the period, Flower made an unbelievable save to keep the game scoreless.

Fleury is on FIRE!!!

Just over a minute into the second period, Jason Spezza made a nice pass to Nick Foligno. Ryan Whitney made a terrible mistake by going one way, giving Foligno the chance to go the other way and score through a pinhole. [Pens 0, Sens 1]

The Pens then kicked in the adrenaline and turned up the offense. Geno and Mad Max both did everything but score on their respective shifts. Things started to take a turn and get nasty. The Saint got involved when he knocked Anton Volchenkov down and then cross checked him. The Pens then played a game of tic-tac-toe with the puck when every man on the ice touched the puck that lead to Mad Max's goal. Okay, follow me here: Whitney passed to Rob Scuderi who passed to Pascal Dupuis who passed to Hossa who dished it ahead to Mad Max, who split the Sens' defenders and promptly scored. [Pens 1, Sens 1]

Inspired by his own goal, Mad Max went absolutely nuts on his next shift. He maintained possession of the puck even as he fell and got back up several times in a row. Jordan Staal was a maniac, too. He was stealing pucks and firing them on the net, but somehow this kid just couldn't buy a goal. Sergei Gonchar had a chance, but he held on to the puck too long. He never got the shot off.

A little later, Geno was getting hammered as he battled for possession. After Gerber made the save, Neil cross checked Geno, then Mike Commodore then lay down on top of Geno and smothered him. Madness ensued. After the dust cleared, the Senators were indeed down a man. Neil went to the box for his infraction. On the ensuing Pens power play, Sid took a flying leap over the blue line (see images below). It was hilarious - and all for naught, as the play was whistled down while he was in mid-flight.

The Sens then got a shorthanded chance, but MAF made an awesome save. Then there was a pileup in front of the net. It was pretty chaotic. When the dust settled, Staal and Letang went to the box for the Pens, while Antoine Vermette and Cody Bass went to the box for the Sens. Vermette was assessed a double minor, so the Pens found themselves with a 10 second 5-on-3 opportunity. During the melee, FSN Pittsburgh cut to a shot of Scary Gary sending a text in the stands. He was sitting with a big group: Sidney's father Troy, Mario and Nathalie Lemieux, Jeff Taffe, Daryl Sydor, Mark Eaton, and Dany Sabourin. The Pens didn't score on their short 5-on-3 or their 5-on-4, either.

Near the end of the second, Hossa tripped a Senator (Spezza, I think...) and got away with it. It was only fair, though, as the Senators have been getting away with murder [*cough, cough*] for this entire series up until now. The Sens put a little pressure on the Pens at the very end. The Saint made a great diving play to get the puck out of danger. The teams were tied at 1 goal each at the end of the second period.

The third period started with a faceoff win by the Pens. Sidney got the puck and then went right around Vermette to blast the puck right past Gerber. The period was only 12 seconds old. [Pens 2, Sens 1]

A mere 1:18 later, Tyler Kennedy threw the puck in front of Gerber as Staal was speeding in for the tip-in. [Pens 3, Sens 1]

Neil got yet another penalty - this time he punched Hal Gill squarely in the jaw right in front of the ref. He tried to argue his case and looked almost like he was going to cry (probably because he realized that it was an extremely stupid penalty to take). The Pens were insanely awesome on their advantage, but Gerber managed to stop them. The Senators then got a series of crazy chances but somehow can't manage to get the puck into the goal. At one point, MAF even lost his stick and held onto one of Dany Heatley's feet to defend his net. As the play stopped, we learned that Whit would be going to the box for holding. Heatley was pretty mad that MAF wasn't called, but again - the Sens have been getting away with A LOT, too. Just as the Senators' power play got underway, Staal was high sticked by Heatley and Malone was tripped by Cory Stillman almost simultaneously. Heatley was given a four minute double minor for his penalty because the bridge of Staal's nose was bleeding, though on the replay, it did look a little like Staal lifted Heatley's stick into his own face...

So it ended up being 4-on-3 in favor of the Pens for about 23 seconds. The Pens didn't score. Then it was 5-on-3 for 37 seconds. The Pens didn't score. Then, because of Heatley's second minor, it was 5-on-4. Just as soon as the 5-on-4 began, the puck was loose in front of Gerber. Hossa did what he was taught and played to the whistle. While the Sens thought Gerber had the puck frozen, Hossa was scoring the goal that put the nail in the Sens' coffin. [Pens 4, Sens 1]

After Hossa's goal, the Pens morphed into the Devils and played keep away until the clock ticked down to victory. During the post game interview, the FSN cameraperson zoomed waaaay in on Sid's face for an extreme closeup. My husband and I had a laugh at the captain's dirty face playoff beard. Sometimes, with their skills and their maturity, it's easy to forget that most of these guys are still pretty wet behind the ears. Seeing them with their patchy facial hair is a big reminder of how young these guys really are.

Because the Sens never scored another goal, our man Sidney got the game winning goal!!! :) He had a goal and an assist and is now tied with Geno for the most playoff points for the Pens (they each have 6 points). Game 4 is on Wednesday. Get yourself geared up and ready for a BATTLE...

LATE EDIT 1: I failed to mention that Marian Hossa also has 6 points in this playoff series, therefore he, too, belongs in the tie with Sidney and Geno. Ummm, oops! My apologies for missing that one, and thanks to all who pointed it out to me! :)

LATE EDIT 3: Okay. This is the last edit, I swear! It turns out, Hossa was credited with 2 assists earlier today, but that total was reduced to 1 assist sometime this afternoon. Just a simple mistake. A simple, confusing mistake. LOL!!! Anyhoo, Hossa now officially has 5 points to his name so far for this series, which takes him out of the top tie with Sid and Geno. Thanks to all who have tried to get to the bottom of this for us! :)

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

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