Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stanley Cup Finals Game 3: Pens v Red Wings (W 3-2)

I believe the word you're looking for is...


I'm seriously bursting with pride. The "LET'S GO PENS!!!" chant was so loud that we could barely hear the Gary Roberts interview just before the start of the game!!! (OMG - How about that montage of Sid footage?! WOW. I'm going to put you guys on it - we NEED the YouTube of it. And how many times did NBC put photos of Sid on The Cup?! Call me superstitious, but they need to knock that off for now!) The Pens are seriously lacking in Stanley Cup experience. They have 3 rings (Roberts, Petr Sykora, and Daryl Sydor) on their team to Detroit's 23. In an effort to capitalize on all the experience in his arsenal, Coach Michel Therrien put Sydor in the roster in place of Kris Letang. With all due respect to Letang, it seemed like this was the shot in the arm the Pens' defense needed to finally help the team get a jump start in this series.

Just over 1 minute into the game, Johan Franzen took a holding penalty. The Mellon broke out the Jaws theme for our Boys, though Chris Osgood was on fire during the Pens' power play. He made a wicked save on native son Ryan Malone. The Pens didn't score on their power play. Just after Detroit returned to full strength, Jordan Staal took a penalty for holding. Bugsy went absolutely nuts on the penalty kill, and Marc-Andre Fleury was quite solid between the pipes to prevent the Red Wings from scoring on their advantage.

The Pens were finally making Tomas Holmstrom pay for his choice to plant himself in front of MAF. First, Holmstrom knocked Rob Scuderi into Flower after the whistle blew, for which he was then knocked on his keister. Then after Sid stole the puck and passed it to Marian Hossa, the Wings stole it back and took it back down towards MAF. They fired a shot that MAF covered. Holmstrom took a few whacks at Flower (I begrudgingly admit that IS his job, after all), and lost his helmet in the confrontation that followed. The thing that bothers me about Holmstrom is that he KNOWS he's going to take punishment for being in front, but yet he cries worse than my 4 year old Goddaughter when he gets a little roughed up for his efforts. Bugsy plants himself in front of many a goalie, but I've never seen him complain about taking his licks for it.

Holy hockey pucks, Batman, it's Michael Keaton at the Mellon Arena!!!

Sergei Gonchar was called for hooking, but Detroit didn't score on their advantage. Holmstrom later practically bear hugged Hal Gill's stick, but no call was made. As a result, the two men had words after the whistle. Sid, Hossa, Sydor, and Evgeni Malkin had an outstanding shift, but it didn't result in a goal. Mad Max Talbot made a sweet twisting pass as he fell. Later, Brad Stuart turned the puck over to the Saint (MISTAKE #1). Sid mad a sneaky little drop pass to Hossa, who sent the puck back to Sid for the shot. G-O-A-L!!!!!!!!!! [Pens 1, Wings 0] Sid got so excited after the goal, it looked like he was going to tackle Jarrko Ruutu in celebration.

With less than a minute left in the period, Brian Rafalski stuck his leg out and deliberately tripped Geno. On the abbreviated power play, Mikael Samuelsson hooked Hossa (no call) and Osgood absolutely robbed the Pens of a goal with an outstanding late save. The period ended with the Pens up by a single goal.

The second period began with Rafalski still in the box for 1:21. The Pens didn't score on their advantage. Seconds later, after Niklas Kronwall kept messing with Bugsy (MISTAKE #2), it finally caught the ref's attention as he was given a hooking penalty. Geno went to the half wall and passed the puck to Gonch, taking a hit as he did so. Gonch got the puck to the net, and Bugsy tried to put it in. The rebound popped out to Hossa, who shuffled the puck to Sidney. The Saint was standing, waiting behind the net for his opportunity. YOU KNOW HE PUT THAT IN!!! [Pens 2, Wings 0]

The Pens as a whole started to go insane. Roberts and Staal had an unreal shift together. Things got so chaotic in front of Osgood that, when he was finally able to freeze the puck, he fell backwards in either relief or perhaps disbelief that he was able to survive that onslaught of pucks. It wasn't over for Ozzy, though - Geno made a spectacular diving shot that would have been "one for the ages" as Paul Steigerwald likes to say, but his shot went wide. Holmstrom was taken down by Gill (again) as Pavel Datsyuk took Bugsy down. Gill was called for crosschecking for his efforts. On the Wings' power play, Staal broke his stick! It could have been ugly, but MAF answered with a toe save. The net came off its moorings a few seconds before a Red Wing put the puck over the line, so a NO GOAL call was made. The Wings didn't score on their advantage, most likely because the Pens allowed them to make only 1 shot.

Ozzy blocked a wraparound attempt, and Gill was (again!) called for crosschecking. Holmstrom was in front of MAF again during his team's power play. He again was confronted and lost his helmet. Then Franzen went outside/inside around Scuderi to beat Flower and score. [Pens 2, Wings 1]

Kronwall was pestering Hossa in the corner. Hossa sent him down to the ice, so Kronwall responded by clamping his legs around Hossa's leg. Nothing was called, but we couldn't complain too loudly because a few seconds later, we dodged a 4 minute bullet after Staal got away with high sticking Nicklas Lidstrom, who ended up on the bench spitting out blood. The Pens kept up the intensity all the way to the end of the second. Our title man got a little nasty with Kris Draper just before the intermission. The second period ended with the Pens holding onto a one goal lead.

The third period got underway with a couple of near misses for the Pens. The 1st one came when Hossa came out from behind the net and fired a shot that struck the crossbar. (>_<) D'OH!!! The 2nd came pretty much immediately afterwards when Sid threw the puck at the net for Pascal Dupuis, who was tied up in front by a Red Wing. The puck was trickling towards the line, and at the very last possible second, Ozzy turned around and prevented it from crossing. Check out how close it was:


The Pens continued to play well. Sid's stick broke in the Wings' zone, but play continued. In fact, there wasn't a whistle for several minutes. Roberts drilled Andreas Lilja into the boards with a HUGE HIT in the Wings' zone. This helped Adam Hall get possession of the puck. Hall stayed with the puck and kept shooting, trying to get a goal. His third time was a charm after it bounced off a Red Wing and into the net. [Pens 3, Wings 1]

It needs to be said that Flower was playing OUTSTANDING hockey tonight. Brooks Orpik then had a shift during which he made FIVE consecutive big hits! Things got even more intense after that. (My heart STILL hasn't slowed down yet!) A Red Wing fired a shot that hit the post. With 6:23 left to go in the game, Samuelsson used Orpik as a screen and scored. To be perfectly fair, Orpik was attempting to block the shot but instead, he accidentally deflected it. [Pens 3, Wings 2]


Gill collided with Holmstrom. To be perfectly honest, I watched the replay but I still couldn't exactly explain how it happened (hopefully you saw it). Holmstrom seemed injured, but he chose to soldier through it - these are the Stanley Cup Finals, after all. Then Geno took a hooking penalty. Bugsy, recognizing that this was going to be the mother of all penalty kills, went bonkers again. (What a PK BEAST he is!) The Red Wings didn't score on their advantage. With less than a minute left in the game, Ozzy was pulled in favor of the extra attacker. The Pens fought the Wings off and held onto their lead for the win!!!!!! Sid deservedly earned the night's First Star. :)

Afterwards, Ryan Whitney was interviewed on the ice. He stated that the team noticed something different about Sid today - that he was quiet and focussed. Evidently he was focussed on SCORING GOALS. :) :) :) :) :) This - THIS is the Penguins team we wanted to see. This is the team we all knew they could be, and I look forward to more of the same on Saturday. Hmmmm... speaking of superstitions, who thinks we're going to need a Friday TSCS "Pep Rally"?! ;)

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

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