Great game by the Pens. They brought out their hard hats and overalls tonight, going to work along the boards with an intensity that was missing against the Rangers. They earned the win through that hard work.
Forgot to write a preview for this one! That's what happens when you're watching the NCAA tournament. Pitt kicked the stuffing out of Oral Roberts and will meet Michigan State on Saturday. Go Pitt!
There was a bunch of skating through the neutral zone, and a bunch of cycling and forechecking, but not much else. There were eight shots and one power play chance per team.
Ruutu scored the goal on a rebound of a Brooks Orpik shot. Jarkko also took a nasty high stick to the nose. The refs, who had missed several pretty obvious penalties during the period (they're warming up for the playoffs) couldn't ignore the blood streaming from Ruutu's nose. They gave Boyle two minutes (it would have been four, but the first one was negated by the puck that was crossing the goal line as Ruutu was getting hit).
Other than the one goal, there was some nice goaltending by Marc-Andre. He made several big saves at key times, including stopping Vinny twice short-handed (Lecavalier out shot the Pens on their own power play).
Nice to have a lead going to the second against the Dolts.
I had some stuff written for the second, but it was as boring as the period was. Here's the lowdown: power play goal by Vinny makes it 1-1, Pens take the lead on a goal by Geno.
Things became more exciting, in a hurry.
FSN just finished showing the Dolts meltdown against the Sabres (they had allowed 6 goals in the third period). 35 seconds into the period Staal gave the Pens a 3-1 lead. Sixteen seconds later, it was 4-1 as Sykora beat Smith. I had visions of a final score in the neighborhood of 17-1.
One minute later, the Lightning managed to cut it back to a two goal lead on their second power play goal of the night (hello? paging the Penguins PK?).
That was it as far as scoring went for the third. The Pens had several excellent chances (Staal had at least two), but Smith stood tall and kept his team in the game, not that they could do anything to reward their goaltender...
The Bolts made a bit of noise when they pulled Smith, but never seriously threatened in the game.
The highlight of the whole thing had to be Jarkko Ruutu bringing the puck up the ice with his skates. He started near his own zone with no stick, brought the puck into the offensive zone and made a great kick pass to Max Talbot, who very nearly buried the chance. It was something you just don't see, and that made it all the more amazing.
No notes tonight - I'm still watching the NCAA tourney! (you should be too)