Saturday, May 02, 2009

Round 2 Game 1: Pens v Caps (L 2-3)

The Pens' terrible power plays cost them the game. Hopefully, Head Coach Dan Bylsma will kick them in the pants for it and get something better going before Game 2.

First Period
The Pens drew first blood when, in a moment of deja vu, Siddo opened up the series with the first goal. And boy, it was a beaut! [Pens 1, Caps 0]

The refs put their whistles away for the first half of the first period. At the 11:00 minute mark, there had only been 3 whistles: 1 for Siddo's goal, 1 for icing on the Caps, 1 for offsides on the Pens. Eaton was high-sticked little later. He was cut and bleeding, but no call was made. Siddo took an outlet pass but he was backchecked and taken down (and stripped of his lid!) by Erskine.

USS Gill stopped a Caps play before it could even get started. Staalsy drew an interference on Federov (← a guy whom, in the 90s, I called "The Hair" for obvious reasons), but the Pens didn't add to their lead. Then Flower gave up a bad rebound for an easy shot that Steckel sent home to tie the game. [Pens 1, Caps 1] Gonch was then called for delay of game for sending the puck over the glass.

During the ensuing penalty kill, A-hOle™ hit the post and then immediately hit Cookie. That didn't sit well with him, so he tangled his stick up in A-hOle's™ body, taking the world's dumbest penalty at the world's worst time.

The Caps had 59 seconds to work on their 5-on-3. Just seconds before the first penalty expired, Semin froze Flower, which left A-hOle™ wide open to score the go ahead goal. [Pens 1, Caps 2]

They still had 1:04 with a man advantage, but they were unable to add to their lead. With less than a minute to go in the period, Siddo and Kuni got a late 2-on-1 chance that produced squat. Ditto that for a 2-on-1 from Geno and Tank. With just 12 seconds left in the period, Clark was hit with a holding penalty. The Pens didn't score on their abbreviated power play.

Second Period
They didn't score on the remainder, either. A-hOle™ hit the post again. Flower had to make an amazing save on Bradley. After the Caps turned the puck over 10 times to the Pens' one time in the 1st, the Pens spent the majority of the first half of the second period turning it over to the Caps, prompting Edzo to joke that maybe there was something going on with that end of the ice. Our 3rd line played like the beasts they are. TK drew a tripping penalty on Clark. During the power play, Siddo's backhand attempt was stopped. Flower mishandled the puck, and it almost led to a chance for the Caps. The Pens' power play was decidedly weak, and as a result, they didn't score.

As the penalty ended, Eaton had a stunning scoring chance but couldn't bury it because he's a lefty. Gill shoved A-hOle™ down to the ice. Superstar hurt his arm during a faceoff and left for the locker room. Then the Caps had an extended period in the Pens' zone during which the Pens tried and failed repeatedly to get the puck out of danger. It was terrible. It was seriously almost like watching the Three Stooges play hockey.

Then in the Pens' zone, A-hOle™ turned the puck over to Geno, who flew down the ice with it. Once he reached his offensive zone, Geno took a big hit, which allowed Eaton to fire a shot that should have been an easy stop for Varlamov, but for whatever reason about which I do not care, he missed it as it crossed the goal line. [Pens 2, Caps 2]

Immediately following, Gronk and TK almost scored on a 2-on-1, but as they say, almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Varlamov made a nice save on Syko at about the time I noticed that our Superstar Warrior was back out on the ice. With about 2 minutes left in the period, Siddo and Kuni went 2-on-2. Kuni drew the defenders and the goalie, leaving Siddo open with a wide open net. In what may be the save of the year, Varlamov flopped himself back and threw back his stick to make a glorious save right on the goal line to prevent our Captain from scoring. There was definitely a lot skill in that save, but there was also a big heap of luck. It was unreal. (Too bad it favored the bad guys!)

To give you an idea of how great that save truly was, check out this shot taken from the goal cam just seconds before:

Third Period
Gonch tried to use his body to block Backstrom, but Backstrom was patient, waited for Gonch to slide by, and passed the puck to the unchecked Fleischman, who promptly scored what would be the GWG. [Pens 2, Caps 3]

Immediately following, the crowd started the "FLEU-ry!!" chant (which, at the time, I thought was a bit premature). The Hair was called for holding. One Capital even lost his stick but the Pens could only manage to fire one shot while on the advantage.

Lemieux, doing his best Hugh Jackman impression, was shown with his lovely wife watching their team from the suites. Erskine was called for tripping, but the Pens did nothing with this opportunity, either. Later, Geno set Tank up, but Varlamov stoned him. With just over a minute to go in the game, Flower was pulled in favor of the extra attacker. The Caps missed the empty net and instead got icing called against them. Bylsma called for a timeout, but it didn't matter. Siddo's stick broke, so the extra attacker was cancelled out. Time ticked away and the Pens lost the game.

But it's only Game 1. No need to panic or worry. Sid played like an absolute beast, so expect good things from him during this series. Truth be told, it looks like the teams are pretty well matched up for a tight series. Still, I'm calling it now:

Pens in 7. :)

Game 2 gets underway on Monday at 7:00pm Eastern.

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

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