Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Round 2 Game 3: Pens v Caps (W 3-2 First OT)

We're in friendly territory for tonight's matchup. That said, this better be the whitest whiteout from the loudest, rowdiest, supporting-est, Penguin-iest crowd that has ever graced the inside of that Igloo. I know I'll be wearing my white Pens T-shirt from Fan appreciation night and screaming my head off.

Game 2 was bittersweet. While we ended up on the bitter side of the outcome, you can't deny that it was truly a sight to behold. The two biggest stars in the league both hit career milestones in one game. We're lucky to have witnessed that.

Check out the beard. It's not rugged like Mario's (← W.O.W! Seriously, Le Magnifique just gets better with age.), but it's a little thicker than last season's - he didn't have this much hair until the finals! ;)

Every one of us already knows that the Pens have more than enough talent to do this, so let's DO IT already!!!

First Period
There's not much that I want to relive about the majority of the first period. It started out with a doozy. Less than 1:30 into the game, a number of factors came together like an aligning of the planets for the Caps: A. Flower goofed badly and lost his stick as he came out to play the puck. B. The puck took a weird bounce off the side of the cage out to the front of the now empty net. C. The bounce went right to a stumbling A-hOle™. D. Flower fell during his scramble back to the front of the net. A + B + C + D = goal. [Pens 0, Caps 1] That mistake rattled the Pens for the next 13 minutes or so.

During that time, Backstrom somehow missed an open net with a wraparound attempt, Gonch was called for interference, Guerin stole the puck and nearly scored, Nylander was called for interference, and a turnover to Geno gave him a near-breakaway chance that didn't find the back of the net.

On the bright side, the Pens came out on the end of the period positively, with Versus announcer Daryl Reaugh stating that, "Once they overcame that goal against, they slowly became the better team." (The bad part about that is that it took about 15 minutes for the Pens to overcome said goal.) In the last 2 minutes, everything opened up. With 30 seconds left, Captain Siddo decided to try to do it all by himself again. He made his way around the Caps' defenders and went hard to net. Varlamov stopped the initial shot, but before the Pens could even try again, Jurcina decided to cheat and purposefully lifted the net from its moorings. He was assessed a minor for delay of game. Tanger nearly capitalized on the advantage in the last 2 seconds of the period, but it just didn't happen.

Second Period
The remainder of Jurcina's penalty was a bust. Reaugh perfectly described the Pens' performance in this series: "unvarnished." It's true. They've been playing good, smart hockey, a lot of their setups in front of the net have been amazing, but they have nothing to show for it. Kuni hit Morrissonn so hard his Momma felt it. And just when you started feeling that familiar fire burning in your belly, Superstar and Tank worked for and got a 2-on-1. Tank, who - more than anyone on the team - has been just a fraction of a second off lately, finally FINALLY sent one across the goal line after his initial shot bounced back to himself off Jurcina's stick. [Pens 1, Caps 1]


It seemed like this goal reinvigorated Geno. His linemates' success may have lessened the pressure he felt because he instantly became Geno again. It probably didn't hurt that the crowd (who is doing all Pens fans everywhere proud) steadfastly proclaimed our collective support with two solid "GE-NO!!!" chants. Green took a penalty for slashing. The Pens didn't score on their advantage. Then Federov suffered a perplexing injury. He and Gill had incidental contact at the boards, and The Hair collapsed in a heap of pain. We watched the replay over and over, but it was unclear where or how he was injured. It may have been his arm, wrist, or even his rib. Either way, I hope he's okay.

Maybe I understated the importance of Tank's goal. It seemed to have reinvigorated the entire team. After an icing call against the Caps, Staal, Dupuis, Satan, Gonch, and Orpik had an unreal shift. The defenders kept keeping the puck in play, while the offense did not let up. Make no mistake - Varlamov is the only reason the score isn't Pens 10, Caps 1.

That shift was immediately followed by an unbelievable shift by Tank, Talbot, and Geno. It resulted in a penalty in the last 43 seconds of the period when Varlamov was busted for slashing Geno in the back of the leg. On the ensuing power play, Siddo stunned the world with a big hit on Poti. He's not known for his hitting, but man that one was comparable to the Orpik hits. (Poti cried about it and tried to goad Sid into something at the end of the period. No dice.)

Third Period
The remainder of Varlamov's penalty didn't result in a goal. Super Duper got an unreal chance to put one in an open net. There's been talk that Varlamov hasn't been tested. Well, in this series he has MORE than proven he is the real deal. He never lost sight of the puck and made the save on Duper. Siddo went hard to net, and A-hOle™ showed us why we call him that by shoving Sid headfirst into the goalpost. Siddo was no worse for wear, and A-hOle™ went to the box for interference. The Pens didn't score. Varlamov later made a great poke check on Siddo to prevent him from shooting on the odd-man rush.

The Pens put on an offensive onslaught, but Varlamov weathered their storm. Federov was back on the ice and okay. Varlamov played the puck and paid the price with a hit from Cookie. Geno decided it was time to silence his critics. And how! He drew a hooking penalty on Semin with a series of pretty moves. And on the ensuing power play, Siddo passed to Gonch passed to Geno for a wicked shot into the net. [Pens 2, Caps 1]

Pens fans were so thunderous that the Versus camera was vibrating. A-hOle™ tried to take Brooksie out but Brooksie smartly ducked at just the right angle and A-hOle™ ended up taking the brunt of his own hit. Then, with less than three minutes to victory, Duper was nailed with an interference penalty that allowed Backstrom to tie the game in the final seconds of regulation. [Pens 2, Caps 2] Geno was attempting to get it right back when he was stood up at the blue line by Jurcina. To add injury to insult, Jerk-cina (← that would work a lot better if the J wasn't silent) crosschecked Geno in the hip. Geno went to the bench in pain, but Jurcina did not go to the box.

Buckle up, kids, we're heading to...

First Overtime
Okay, I've got to work in the morning, so you're going to have to settle for the Cliff Notes version of the OT period. Our wicked 3rd line hit the crossbar. Pothier was called for delay of game for clearing the puck over the glass. The action was unreal from both teams, but there's no question that in OT the Pens were better offensively, while Varlamov was an absolute brick wall. A-hOle™ was an a-hole in front of Flower (he tried to crosscheck Gill in the face). Siddo was shown on the bench lidless due to playing like a beast and just drenched like he came out of a shower. I'm sure some of it was water splashed on to cool him, but I bet most of it was sweat.

Tanger decided that he wanted his old Pensblog nickname back and banged home the winner with authority. LeGame. :)

Game 4 on Friday, followed immediately with Game 5 on Saturday. It's gonna be one crazy weekend!!

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

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