Thursday, April 05, 2007

Penguins 3, Senators 2

This one felt like a playoff game, just with a little bit less discipline than you'd expect.

In the first, the Pens get a power play and look horrible. The Sens get one and score within 30 seconds. After that, there were several scrums as the tension started to rise. This is looking like it will be one tough playoff series.

About halfway through the first, Ruutu was trying to finish a check on Jason Spezza, admittedly up high. Ruutu missed his check, but Spezza took a swing at Jarkko, drawing a roughing call. Seeing that he'd earned a trip to the Sin Bin, Jason decided to upgrade to the extended stay and decked Ruutu, who had conveniently swung back around to discuss things calmly with Spezza. One moment of uncontrolled temper later, and Spezza has drawn a second penalty. That's when things get funny - because the refs called a 2:00 rough and a 5:00 fighting on Spezza, they decided after the fact to give Ruutu 2:00 for charging. There was nothing on the initial hit that indicated that Ruutu was getting a penalty as well. It was good old Canadian officiating at it's best.

It didn't matter, because the Pens effectively flipped the bird at the Sens by scoring twice on the major penalty to Spezza, taking the lead 2-1.

Other than a goal in the second on the power play by the Sens, the remainder of the game was good playoff style hockey. The Pens were the team taking too many penalties in the second, as Joe Melichar set a team record this season by taking three minors at one time. He was called for cross checking, but then accidentally clipped Heatly with his stick, drawing both blood and 4 minutes. This was with Scuderi already in the box, so the Sens had over 30 seconds of a 5 on 3 to work with. They scored during the 5 on 3, so they then had over 5:00 of power play time. The Pens drew an even up call to help things out, but they also killed the rest of the Sens power play, which was critical. They never let the Sens take the lead.

The third period was up and down a bit with the Sens getting some great chances. Fleury was up to the task, making several great saves. The Pens stepped it up in the last 2:00, with Crosby drawing a penalty. Malkin made a rookie mistake and gave the Zebras a chance to make an even-up call, but Army and Talbot showed the persistence pays off by putting the puck into the net with 9.8 seconds left. Great goal, great game.

Random notes:
  • Fleury was the #1 star, and deservedly so. He made 35 saves and was spectacular. If he plays like this in the playoffs, the Pens will have a good shot.
  • The Senators tried to set a tone physically, by hitting Penguins everywhere they could. I'm not sure it was very effective - the Pens didn't seem phased by the physicality. They held their ground and didn't back down. Much of that credit has to go to Gary Roberts.
  • The Devils beat the Flyers, so the Pens can finish no higher than 4th, and will play the Senators in the first round.
  • If the Pens earn more points on Saturday than the Sens do (ie, the Pens win and the Sens lose or the Pens have an OTL, while the Sens lose in regulation), then the Pens will have home ice for the series with the Sens.
Next up: the Rangers visit the Igloo on Saturday night.


Will said...

Fun game to watch. I thought the zebras were totally inconsistent but that's nothing new. Max's goal was sweet. He's really having a great season. I think he's almost at 20 goals! Fleury and Roberts were also great.

I don't know how much I care either way about home ice in the playoffs, but it will make watching the games Saturday more fun.

Go Pens!

Pat said...

Will - I'm just wanting to see any game 7 played here in Pittsburgh. I think this team opening up on the road could be an advantage. I guess that means I'll be happy either way.

Teej said...

Game 7 playoff hockey, I'll go ahead and say it...nothing else in sports even comes close. A Game 7 in Pittsburgh, imagine the bedlam that would ensue! Guess I'm trying to say I can't wait for this series to unfold... it should promise to be very entertaining.