Thursday, November 10, 2005

Penguins 3, Canadiens 2 (OT-SO 1-0)

You could see that the Penguins were tired and out of gas for the second half of the third and the overtime. You have to give them credit - they did what they needed to do to win the game. Thibault made the saves necessary when they were needed, especially short-handed against Kovalev in the third period, and in the shootout.

The Pens got out quickly and were very competitive early. They got goals from Lemieux and Crosby. Lemieux's goal especially was impressive - he redirected a sharp pass from Palffy off the heel of his stick from 8 feet out. Crosby's goal probably would have been scored by Palffy if it hadn't hit off of the skate of the Montreal defensemen.

Fatigue played a factor in the Canadien's game tying goal - it was three on three in the offensive zone and the Canadiens made a sharp pass from Thibault's right to his left - he had no chance. Pirjeta was the forward nearest the shooter and had sagged back in towards the net. If he's a little sharper (and less tired), he stays out a little bit more to cut off the pass.

I thought we were in trouble when Recchi's shot in the shootout got through the five-hole on Theodore, but hit off of the inside of his left skate and deflected wide. But Thibault made some great saves (seems funny writing that this year), especially on Kovalev, who tried to go up high on him.

Thibault played well. Maybe it's just the bad experiences we've had watching him so far this year, but he always seemed to be on the brink of disaster, but played well enough to succeed. He's kind of like Mike Williams was for the Pirates... he would make you really nervous but would get the job done.

Of course, no discussion is complete without a quick description of Sidney Crosby's game winner in the shootout - he faked the shot on the forehand (even kicking his leg up a little bit), got Theodore to go down, took the puck on his backhand to Theodore's left, and left nothing to chance by roofing the puck into the top of the net. The water bottle jumped. It was beautiful, and a great ending to the first shootout in Mellon Arena history. Of course, Crosby was interviewed after the game and said he just got lucky. Typical hockey players, eh?


Pronovost said...

Great all-around effort other than the power play, and what a relief to see Thibault play well. Wasn't surprised to see Mario have a great outing, considering the way the game was being hyped in Montreal. Anyone else have the sense that Mario knew Crosby was in the spotlight and wanted to show everyone that the captain still knows how to play, too?

Strong and gutsy showing by Johnny Vermont.

Also, what are your opinions about the hit on Talbot? I'm torn. On one hand, the elbow was up a bit and the Canadien certainly didn't have to follow through like that. On the other hand, Talbot shouldn't have been down so low to begin with.

Pat said...

Provnost - I agreed with what the broadcasters were saying - Talbot did have his head down when he was skating and was low and stretching out. On the other hand, the hit certainly could have been avoided. I think that's the first major penalty we've seen this year, isn't it? Of course, The Hair (Fraser) had to even things up during the major...

Pat said...

Of course, if we wanted a different perspective, we could always ask my wife - she was ready to leap through the television and take on the Canadien's player... (and Lange and Errey for saying that they thought it was pretty clean...)

Will said...

Thibault was great. Crosby's goal was even better. My favorite part of the game was the way the crowd was into it. Pittsburgh seems to have really mellow crowds during most of their games, due in part to their play at home during home games this year, but to see everyone on their feet cheering and screaming was great. Big win against a good team. Hopefully this means we'll start to see Thibault playing better.

Huge game coming up on Saturday. You know the Rangers are going to be looking for blood after losing on Monday to the Pens. Should be an aggressive game.

Pronovost said...

(and Lange and Errey for saying that they thought it was pretty clean...)

I had the TSN feed on Center Ice and those guys also said it was mostly clean, but at the same time the league is trying to avoid head shots. One of the announcers compared it to Steve Moore's hit on Naslund in that it probably was clean but nevertheless overdone or at least not totally necessary.

TSN had Lemieux and Crosby "miked up" and that was pretty cool.

Trent said...

I only just watched the TiVo-ed game and, what an ending! An important two points for the team and a performance that was completely unexpected after Wednesday night's debacle. It looks like the Pens are at a loss against any team with speed because they skated minute for minute against Montreal. Boston and Atlanta skated circles around them and they had little answer for it. (Unless the opposing team breaks down a la Atlanta in the first game of the series.)

I have to disagree with Will about Thibault. I think that he was horrible in net. He was floundering around like a fish, gave up obscene rebounds, and often had no idea where the puck was. He has no confidence and it shows. I think the end score was a result of probably THE strongest defensive effort by the team. It's been a long slog, but finally they got their act together.

But Thibault definitely deserves credit for an impressive blanking in the shootout. Huge. I'm sure the win is going to improve his confidence, and therefore, his game, immensely.

As for Talbot: I don't care if it was the player's shoulder or his elbow. He was aiming for Talbot's head and that's f-ed up.