Monday, January 02, 2006

Maple Leafs 3, Penguins 2 (OT)

Wow. This score seems familiar. This time, however, was different in my opinion. I'd call it a heartbreaking... moral victory?

The Pens came out of the gates like rockets. The first period was excellent hockey for the visitors, and Gonchar gave the Pens the lead by jumping into the play and slamming home a rebound after a nice backhad pass from Crosby and shot by Palffy. They had a few chances to extend the lead, including Leclair stealing the puck from Belfour behind the net, but they couldn't finish any of them. That's more of a credit to Belfour than it is a knock against the Pens.

In the second, the Pens seemed to stay back and make the Leafs play perfect hockey. It worked for 20 minutes in the second. Unfortunately, in the third, Chad Kilger scored on two superb shots and gave the Leafs a lead. It didn't look good for the Pens at that point, as they hadn't been able to get their offense restarted for most of the time after the first period.

The Pens were the recepients of a short power play late in the third and made the most of it. Whitney hustled to keep the puck alive off of the faceoff, got it to Palffy who made a great pass right across the crease to Ouellet. Michel then one-timed it past a sliding Belfour to tie the game.

The Pens killed off a penalty that lasted the last 1:20 and first :40 of overtime, and Surovy very nearly ended it in OT with a fantastic individual effort. Unfortunately, he missed, Palffy got caught in the offensive zone trying to pinch and the Leafs came back four on two. Wellwood threw the puck high and wide of the net, and it bounced in off of McCabe's shoulder. It was complete luck, but I guess you have to be good to be lucky.

Anyway, it was still a good road game for the Pens, and good that they got a point out of what was looking like a disappointing loss for a while in the third.

A few notes from the game:
  • Thibault played really well, but he still seems to give up tons of rebounds. I guess it's not bad if the team is playing with a renewed emphasis on defense around him.
  • Christensen, Malone and Ouellet really saw their ice time dwindle. Ouellet was on the game-tying power play mainly because the team needed a right-handed shot somewhere on the ice (and boy did it pay off).
  • The PK was excellent, stepping up big time when they were needed. They even killed off a 5 on 3 situation and a 4 on 3 to begin OT.
  • Talbot was a human pinball out there, hitting everything that moved and using his speed tremendously well. He was a big reason that they Pens killed off all of their penalties.
Short break for the Pens, as they play tomorrow night in Montreal. Preview will be up tomorrow.

2 comments:

Pronovost said...

Lousy way to end the game but probably the right outcome. Toronto deserved to win; the Pens deserved a point.

Thibault's rebounds -- I'm not trying to be funny -- seem intentional. I think he often tries to direct the puck to a teammate or to open space rather than attempting to gobble up the puck.

Palffy. I know he had two points, but that was a BAD pinch in OT. If you have the game on tape or TIVO or whatever, give it a look. The Toronto player controlled the puck for at least a full second and was skating up ice before Palffy even entered the picture.

On to Montreal.

Pat said...

Yeah - when I saw the Leafs come back 4 on 2, i wondered what the heck happened to the other forward (I could understand Surovy being behind the play). I'm not sure what Palffy was thinking unless he thought he was caught in no man's land and might as well try *something*... he's been solid lately, so i'm willing to give him a pass on this one - i know, he's probably really glad to hear that ;)