This was a wild and crazy game. The Pens were down 2-0 in the first period. They came roaring back to take the lead, 3-2, much like they did the other night against the Leafs. This time, however, the Devils fought back.
The second period featured 6 consecutive penalties against the Pens. The Devils scored twice on the chances. The Pens scored two PP goals of their own in the second (three in the game in total).
The first two penalties of the game were on the Devils, the next 6 on the Pens and the next three on the Devils. Ryan Malone made sure the Devils streak didn't continue by taking a holding call and then threw a temper tantrum that earned another two. Fortunately, it didn't burn the Pens.
I was looking to see who the referees were, to check against my research earlier this year, but I can't find their names in the box scores yet. I know Dean Morton was one of them. Dean wasn't a regular referee last year - he did just 16 games. There weren't a high number of penalties called in his 16 games last year, so I'm really interested in who the other guy was. Once I find out, I'll update the post.
The third period was almost anticlimactic. Where the second was full of emotion (both highs and lows), the third didn't have nearly the excitement. The Pens couldn't generate any real pressure once the Devils took the lead. This was largely due to the Devils going back to the trap, and away from the forechecking style they started the game with. It was a smart move by the Devils, but it's a bad move for the NHL - anyone outside of Pittsburgh and New Jersey watching this game would have been put to sleep.
In the end, Brodeur made some key saves and the Pens defense was maybe a bit too soft when they needed to muscle up.
Next up: the party continues with Carolina visiting the Igloo on Friday
Thanks to Freeptop - the other ref was Dennis LaRue. LaRue did one game at the Igloo last year. During that game, the Pens were called for 74 minutes in penalties (he also did one road game and the Pens received 12 PIM). I'm not sure if it's a coincidence, because most of the calls seemed legit, but it's certainly something to keep in mind...