Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Penguins 2, Lightning 0

Great road win for the Pens. It wasn't glamorous, but it was still worth two points. Fleury was magnificent, stopping all 35 shots.

Crosby played almost 21 minutes and looked good. He may have been a bit tired late in the game, but that's not a surprise.

Malkin continued his hot play with several great chances. If he continues to dominate with Sid in the lineup, this team will be fearsome.

The game itself was actually pretty boring. It was scoreless until late in the third, and while there were several breakaways, there really wasn't much offense overall. That's not bad for a road win.

First period:

Malkin, Malone and Sykora start the game. I think that was the right thing to do - those guys have earned it.

On his first shift, Crosby just missed wide on a tap-in attempt. Talbot came down the right side and made a terrific pass. When I was watching the play, I would have put money on Talbot missing the pass, not Crosby missing the shot.

Gonchar hit the post later in the first.

Crosby won his first faceoff. Sid will make lots of contributions, but the underrated one is his ability to win faceoffs. That's a skill the Pens desperately need.

Malkin sent a great pass from behind Smith, past two Lightning, straight to Malone. Ryan missed the net.

Immediately after that, the Lightning threw a few quick shots as Fleury, who honestly looked a bit shaky to me.

After an extended shift by Crosby, Malkin's line was on. Geno stepped around the Lightning D and was alone on the goaltender. Only a nice save by Smith kept the Pens off of the board.

The Lightning drew a penalty with about 6:00 remaining in the period. Fleury proved to be the best penalty killer for the Pens, stopping chances by both Vinny and Marty.

On the back side of the penalty, Crosby earned his own breakaway. He was stopped by Smith. If you'd have said both Geno and Sid would have breakaways and the Pens would be scoreless after them, I'd say you weren't very realistic...

St Louis hit the goal post, and it was a good thing, because there was a bunch of room for Marty to hit.

Staal was hurt during the period when he collided awkwardly with Lessard. He stayed on for one shift and then went to the locker room.

Second period:

Staal didn't come back for the start of the second. Hope he's not hurt too badly.

Crosby's line showed some nice offensive chemistry, but they weren't able to get a good shot away.

Crosby looked really sharp with some nice passing in the offensive zone on the third line (since Staal was out). You had the feeling that the Pens were going to score if they could keep up the pressure. They were getting too many good chances to be shut out for long.

Boy, is Laraque ever moving his legs. Being called out by Therrien has seemed to light a fire under big George. He didn't even look slow!

Letang got back to break up a developing two on one and drew a tripping call in the process, sending the Pens on the power play. How did we ever doubt Letang's readiness for the NHL game?

Not much pressure on the power play, and there was a chance for Lecavalier on the backside. Fortunately, Letang was aware (he was the only one) and forced a wrister that Fleury stopped.

Nothing doing until thing turn a bit chippy. Sykora was sprung on a breakaway and was pulled down from behind. A penalty shot was awarded to Sykora, but Smith stoned him.

Immediately following the Lightning showed why they're more Dolts than Bolts, missing two wide open cages on subsequent scoring chances.

Staal has bruised ribs. That's not the worst thing to happen.

Ruutu drew a penalty and the Pens put some of their best pressure on Smith with a few decent chances. It was nice to see Sid and Geno on the power play again.

Dupuis missed a golden chance, just shooting wide of the net as the second period was ending.

Third period:

Crosby's line started the second and third period, but I think that was more about keeping Vinny and Marty off of the ice (Halpern's line is matched against Sid).

There was a Chris Minard sighting on the ice! Stop the presses! Poor Minard sat on the bench for the entire game against Atlanta.

Suddenly, Malkin and Crosby were on the ice together (I think I fell asleep before that), and Malkin setup Sid with a great, quickly paced, cross ice pass. Sid got the shot on net, but Smith came from right to left with speed and stopped the shot. Great play, better save.

Dupuis was hit in the face with a stick, drawing the high sticking penalty.

The Pens finally managed a shot on the power play, but they also allowed too many short handed chances. Crosby looked tired, which wouldn't be a surprise since it's his first game and he's helping to fill in for Staal.

When Smith knocked the puck down behind his own net, Vinny was cheating up ice. They got him the puck and he was sprung all alone on a breakaway. Fleury stoned him. Great game for the goalies so far.

Then, the Emergency Alert System kicked in, interrupting the game. Why? To tell us that there was a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. LOOK OUT! IT'S RAINING! Here's a crazy idea - let's save the Emergency Alert System for an actual emergency!

With about three minutes remaining in the game, Sid brought the puck down the right wing and threw it across the front of the crease. It bounced off a few people and right to Max Talbot, who was able to deposit the puck past a reaching Mike Smith. 1-0 Penguins.

The Lightning pulled Smith and got the puck deep where Fleury froze it. Without Crosby, that might be bad, but Crosby won the faceoff cleanly.

Talbot lost his stick but made a really smart play, passing the puck with his hand to Malkin who walked down the ice and deposited the puck in the empty net. Game over.

Next up: A chance to sweep the Kitty Cats on Thursday in Florida.


Kipper said...

That was one sluggish performance by the Penguins. Basically a goalie duel until the end. Crosby with a great pass through a ton of traffic to Talbot's stick, Malkin sealing the deal with an Empty Netter.

Fleury with the shutout on 35 saves. Pens stay in first place and move up to sole possession of the 1st seed on the conference.

Solid. Will definitely take it.

Team needs to practice shooting and it's Power Play. both look really bad right now.

Great to have Crosby back!

The Big K said...

Nice recap here. Can you check out my blog?
It's not quite like you or pensblog but you seem like an expert. If you read this, just click on my name and go to my first blog, Penguins That Fly and comment.
If not, that's fine. Great game tonight. First place.