Friday, April 11, 2008

Penguins 5, Senators 3

Great win for the Pens. You had to know the Sens were going to bring some heat at some point. That happened tonight, but the Pens managed a critical counter punch at just the right time to win the game. HUGE power play goal by Ryan Malone. That was easily the biggest power play conversion of the season so far.

The series goes back to Ottawa for Game 3 with the Sens looking to hold serve. The Pens need to focus on a split north of the border so they have a chance to finish things off at home in Game 5. If they can win on Monday, they can entertain thoughts of a sweep, but I'd focus on Monday first.

To the recap!

First period:

Wow. This entire period could be summed up in one word: Domination.

The Pens came out flying, and not just with puck possession, like they do sometimes. This time they were getting tons of quality scoring chances on Gerber. On top of that, they turned the Senators end of the ice into a shooting gallery. They registered 20 shots on goal during the first.

Gerber, however, was incredible. He either made great saves, or was in the right position to have the puck hit him. The Pens needed a five on three chance to beat him, which Gonchar did with a laser beam from the middle of the ice. 1-0 Pens.

The Pens showed no signs of taking the foot off of the throttle.

Second period:

The Pens continued to pummel Gerber with shots. This time they met with a bit more success.

Petr Sykora was the beneficiary of a beautiful tic-tac-toe sequence on the power play. Crosby had the puck on the left wing. He went cross ice to Malkin on the right side, who came back to Sykora. Petr was standing at the left post of the goal and simply deflected the puck into the net. Great hand-eye coordination by Petr. 2-0 Pens.

Sykora got to display some more of that great coordination when he took a quickly paced cross ice pass from Malkin and rifled it top shelf to beat Gerber. 3-0 Pens.

To that point, Gerber was the only reason it was just 3-0 and not 6-0. He kept the Sens in the game.

Then the Senators started to get back into the game. Fleury had already needed to make a few really great saves on the Sens power play after Orpik was sent off for interference. The best one was him lunging from his left to his right and smothering the puck with his body. It was a highlight reel type of save.

The Sens kept coming, and their determination finally paid off when Shean Donovan chipped a puck past Fleury on a pass out of the corner from Chris Neil. Why is is always the former Penguins that get us? 3-1 Pens.

The Sens added a power play goal on their second attempt at a give and go with Stillman and Heatley in the corner. After the Pens saw that play almost work the first time, how did they get burned by the same thing not 20 seconds later? I think it was the lack of mobility of Hal Gill that opened up the space. Either way, it was a perfect play. 3-2 Pens.

Going to the third, the Pens realized they had a game on their hands. You really can't let a three goal lead slip away on home ice in the playoffs if you want to win the series. You also can't tighten up attempting to protect the lead. Their reaction in the third would tell us a whole bunch about their character.

Third period:

The Pens came out roaring again in the third, but again couldn't beat Martin Gerber. Dupuis was all alone on Gerber and passed to Hossa, who was actually behind Gerber cutting across the crease. Gerber was able to get his stick back and tie up Hossa enough that he couldn't put the puck in the net.

The Sens managed to steal a goal when the puck went to the net and Cody Bass jammed it past Fleury. That goal fit the profile of exactly what the Sens said they wanted to do - they got a puck to the net and crashed for the rebound. 3-3 tie.

At this point, the Pens could have panicked. They didn't. They maintained their composure and kept the pressure on. The game looked like it was headed to OT, but Martin Lapointe had other idea.

Lapointe gave Ruutu an obvious high stick to the face in the middle of the ice, forcing the refs (who had been reticent to blow the whistle) to make a call. It was an accident, I'm sure, but as Caufield said after the game, you have to be in control of your stick.

So, the Pens went on the power play with just 1:24 remaining in the game.

Crosby tossed the offensive zone faceoff to the side boards, and the Sens suddenly decided to get aggressive on their PK. They hounded the Pens and it backfired. Sid got the puck to Hossa who launched a short side shot on Gerber. The rebound came straight to Malone who went behind the net. The Sens had three guys on the other side of the net, and Volchenkov couldn't get back fast enough. Ryan completed the wrap around goal and gave the win to the Pens. 4-3 Pens.

The Pens added an empty net goal. If it had been a Steelers game, I would have thought "they scored too quickly", but the Sens never threatened in the last 60 seconds.

Notes:
  • FIFTY-FOUR SHOTS!!
  • Gerber was awesome. He is the only reason this game wasn't a blowout.
  • Crosby had four points and wasn't one of the three stars.
  • Malkin - 3 assists and some dominant play. Sykora - 2 G. Malone - 2 G, 1 A. The first line is dominant right now and the power play is clicking.
  • How good is this team when the Crosby line is in the shadow of another line?
  • Ottawa will be tough to beat at home. They made a great comeback tonight with Heatley and Spezza being invisible. I didn't even notice if / when they were on the ice for the first two period.
Next up: A trip north of the border for Game 3 on Monday.

2 comments:

The Big K said...

What a game. What a CLUTCH showing.

Will said...

Great to see the PP score with the game on the line. Malone played great after getting shook up earlier. Nice composure after Ottawa came back. GO PENS!