Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Penguins 4, Senators 0

This was the perfect way to start the playoffs.

Fleury was fantastic.

The Pens dominated the game when it mattered.

Gary Roberts scored twice.

The PK... um... got some work, but they did it really well!

The only thing the Pens can improve on would be to stop taking so many penalties. You can't give that many chances, especially two-man advantages, to the Senators.

Every other facet of the game, the Pens showed that they were ready for the challenge. They not only didn't back down from the Sens, they took the fight to them and dominated the play.

First period:

Could this game have started any better for the Pens?

Orpik plastered Dany Heatley - it looked just like a nasty car wreck.

Therrien sent out Roberts, Talbot and Laraque for the second shift of the game. It was a move that paid off BIG time, as they got the puck down low. The forwards went to work behind Gerber, with the puck ending up right in front of the net. Redden and Volchenkov ran into each other and Gary was able to backhand the puck past Gerber. The Igloo went nuts! 1-0 Pens.

Staal took a holding penalty, putting the Sens on the power play. It proved to be a good early test for the PK, and they performed really well, holding the Sens without a decent chance. They managed just one shot, and it was a 55 ft slapper.

After that, things slowed down a bit. The teams focused on getting the puck deep and putting the forecheck to work. There were 31 hits in the first period (17 by the Pens)!

The Sens were aggressive defensively, having their D pinch on a regular basis. It burned them big time when Commodore tried to pinch and Malkin made him look dumb. It created a two on one going the other way.

In the two on one, the defensemen is supposed to keep the puck from going from side to side. Phillips didn't, and Sykora absolutely buried the chance past the outstretched arm of Gerber. 2-0 Pens.

Crosby very nearly gave the Pens a 3-0 lead when his backhand shot got past Gerber and hit the post on the far side. Close call.

Not much else going on - the Sens took a penalty, but the Pens couldn't do much with it. They managed just one shot on goal, though Sykora missed wide on a good chance.

At the end of the first, things were looking good, even if the Pens had the DTGL (Dreaded Two Goal Lead).

Second period:

The second period was all about Penguins domination. They carried the play for almost the entire period, other than when they were on the PK.

Speaking of the PK, they killed off a critical series of penalties, which included about a minute of five on three play. Scuderi worked his usual magic in preventing the passes from going from side to side.

Stillman hit a post behind Fleury while the Sens were on the power play.

Gerber was the only reason the Pens didn't have a bigger lead. He made several really nice saves, and when he wasn't good, he was lucky. A few pucks that got past him trickled just wide of the net.

The Pens had taken a late penalty, so the Sens started the third on the power play.

Third period:

The Pens killed off the penalty early in the third with some special help from Rob Scuderi's skate. Scuds stuck his leg out to block a rebound chance by Heatley that was probably targeted for the back of the twine. Great play by Scuderi.

The Pens played with fire by giving the Sens a second five on three chance, but they killed it off again. This time, they sent out two defense (Gill and Scuds) to take care of things. It worked.

The Pens then weathered the storm, sandwiched around a power play chance. The Senators started to apply some consistent offensive pressure, but couldn't get any high quality chances in on Fleury. The chances they did manage Fleury was able to stop without much difficulty.

The Pens put the game away with about seven minutes left when Malkin played the give and go with Ryan Whitney, making a nice play to kick the return pass from his skate to his stick and beating Gerber. 3-0 Pens.

Redden and Crosby got into it a bit to the left of Gerber with both of them throwing some punches and cross checks. Ryan Whitney didn't waste any time. He stepped in and took care of Redden in a quick and brutal manner. Great fight from Whitney, made easier by the fact the Redden's sweater was just about over his head.

One more goal - this time Gary Roberts collected a power play goal late for his second tally of the game. It was a nice pass across the ice from Malkin to the crease where (predictably) Roberts was hanging out. 4-0 Pens. Game over.

Roberts hit Cody Bass from behind with 12 seconds remaining in the game, starting a fracas. There weren't any major punches thrown. I think Roberts just made sure everyone knew the Pens weren't going to back down and took the opportunity to stay aggressive. I'm not unhappy with it, to say the least.

Next up: A chance to build on success at the Igloo on Friday night.

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