Thursday, March 27, 2008
Pens v Islanders (W 3-1)Sidney Returns (again)
The Saint was back to his old self again. We finally got a chance to see Sid paired up with Marian Hossa, though the Islanders did everything in their power to break the two up (they eventually succeeded). Just after the opening faceoff, Ryan Malone crashed the net. Josef Vasicek interfered with Bugsy on his way in, which sent him crashing into Wade Dubielewicz. Brooks Orpik contributed early with a sweet diving block on Bill Guerin to keep the game scoreless. Our man Sid drew the first penalty of the night after Richard Park tripped him. On the ensuing power play, Marc-Andre Fleury took a piece of an Islander, but luckily for us, no call was made. The Pens did not capitalize on their advantage. A little later, Evgeni Malkin was blatantly tripped. Amazingly, even though it was so obvious that my Gram probably would have seen it, no call was made. Geno doesn't get mad, though. He gets even: He picked himself back up and just seconds later, he scored a goal (with a little help from Georges Laraque, who muscled an Islander out of the way to make room for Geno's shot). [Pens 1, Isles 0]
On the next play, the Isles tried to buy a penalty after Freddy Meyer lifted Ryan Whitney's stick up and over Dubielewicz's face. (Whit, by the way, was on the left wing again tonight.) A slight scrum ensued, but no penalties were handed out. Geno took the brunt of a hard shot from Bugsy. The puck hit him in the left leg, and he left visibly in pain. He wasn't seriously hurt (thank God) as he returned to the ice for his next shift as usual. Sidney nearly had a breakaway chance, but he was speeding on his skates so fast that he overskated the puck. Whit nearly scored, but Dubie blocked the attempt.
We were told again that Mr. and Mrs. Pascal Dupuis welcomed a baby girl they named Zoe on Monday. Another Penguin couple, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Eaton, also had a baby this week. The Eatons' daughter Adrianna was born this Tuesday. Mazel tav to all the new parents! Then we're told another tidbit of Sid info: despite having missed more than a quarter of this season, he's still tied for 34th place in NHL scoring. Stop for a second and think about how different the Art Ross race would be if Sid had never gotten hurt...
With about 3:30 left in the period, Vasicek sneaked a backhand shot past Flower. [Pens 1, Isles 1] On the next play, Sid was backchecked all the way into the net by Trent Hunter. Then Mad Max Talbot lined up Tim Jackman and absolutely drilled the much larger Jackman into the boards. Dupuis fanned on a chance in the high slot with less than a minute to go in the 1st. In the last 20 seconds of the period, we were given a gift when Guerin fired a shot that hit the post. Then the rebound went right to Sean Bergenheim, who was wide open, but MAF anticipated and gloved his shot nicely. The period ended with the teams tied at one.
At the start of the second, FSN Pittsburgh gave us the following stats: In all the games Sid has been able to play in this season, he's earned 1.37 points per game. Geno has earned 1.32 points per game in all the games he played in this season. Again - stop for a second and think about how different the Art Ross race would be if Sid had never gotten hurt... (>_<) Or don't... It might make your head hurt.
Hossa took a penalty for hitting Radek Martinek in the head. He was assessed a roughing penalty for the infraction. Jordan Staal had a sweet shorthanded chance, but Dubie wouldn't let the puck go past the goal line. The Isles didn't score on their advantage. After Hossa came out of the box, he sped down the ice like a mad man. Martinek backchecked Hossa nicely to prevent him from getting a shot off, but then Geno swooped in from out of nowhere and almost scored, but he just couldn't get it past Dubie.
Then something happened to let us know that Sid was back - I mean really back - this time. He was flying down the ice. The puck was up on its edge and, to get around the Isles' defenders, Sid used the blade of his stick to flip the puck up over Meyer. Then Sid skated around Meyer and regained control of the puck. He just couldn't get a shot on goal, or that would have been one of those highlight reel goals. It was stunning!!!
Jarrko Ruutu took a dumb penalty in the offensive zone for roughing. Luckily, the Isles didn't score on their advantage. After a series of insane chances by Hossa and Geno, Hossa was hip checked low in the legs (it was also a late hit) by Rob Davison. Hossa had a scoring chance after the hit but was unable to fully take advantage of it. After the play was whistled down, the teams went nuts. It was, as they say, a yard sale on the ice. There were gloves and sticks everywhere as Geno went after Hunter and Petr Sykora went after Miroslav Satan. Syko and Satan were in a full on fight, and when the dust finally settled, Syko and Geno went to the box for the Pens, while Satan, Hunter, and Jeff Tambellini were penalized for the Isles. Meanwhile, Hossa left the ice and went down the runway...
On the Pens' power play, Max's stick was held, but no call was made. The Pens didn't score on their advantage. FSN went to commercial, and as they came back, we were shown that Hossa returned to the bench. We were told that he's been wearing a brace on his knee and that it may have needed to be adjusted.
The Pens got another power play after Aaron Johnson took MAF out by plowing into him. Dubie made a great diving stick save on Geno. Hunter lost his stick, and Sid used that to his advantage, but the Pens did not score on this power play. Then, the ref made an awful too many men call on the Pens. Whit served the penalty. Even though it certainly looked like an erroneous call, it ended up working to the Pens' advantage. Ruutu was able to catch the Isles off guard as he chased down an errant pass and went streaking down towards Dubie. Ruutu faked Dubie out and froze him. He was able to go around the back of the cage, come out the other side, go from his backhand to his forehand, and score a beautiful shorthanded goal!!! [Pens 2, Isles 1] The Isles, by the way, were unable to score on their power play.
Jackman slashed Geno. It got by the refs but not by Daryl Sydor. Sydor went after Jackman. The fight was pretty evenly matched, but the edge should go to Jackman, since he landed a few good punches on Sydor and knocked Sydor's helmet off his head. Somehow, Geno also was penalized after the dust settled. He was called for roughing, so the Isles had the power play. Ruutu almost got his second shorthanded goal of the night, but his shot hit the goal post. The Isles didn't score on this power play, either.
With less than 2 minutes left in the period, Davison went after Ruutu and hit him hard. Ruutu called attention to the refs as Davison hit him in the face with his forearm. Ruutu, in turn, was given a penalty for holding while Davison went to the box for roughing. On the ensuing 4-on-4, Sid got 2 early chances, but Dubie stopped them both. Hossa made a beautiful centering pass to Staal, but he couldn't get a shot off. The period ended with the Pens up by a goal.
The third period began with shots of the Dreamworks movie cameras in the Mellon Arena. They were there to shoot the movie “She’s Out of My League.” Producer Jimmie Miller (brother of comic Dennis) used to work at the Mellon back when it was known as the Civic Arena.
There were :42 seconds left in the 4-on-4. Sid passed the puck right to the tape of Martinek, but thankfully, MAF was on his toes and ready to make the save on Martinek's shot. Neither team scored. Hossa must be one of the most unluckiest people in the NHL right now. After taking the blow to his previously injured knee without complication, he was hit in the back of the head from behind by Bergenheim. Hossa went flying and landed hard. As he lay on the ice motionless and trainers rushed to his aid, Orpik went after Bergenheim and Sid went after another Islander (I didn't see who that was). It was another mess, and after the refs regained control, Orpik, Guerin, and Bergenheim went to their respective sin bins. Bergenheim then came out and left the ice due to a cut on his hand. The Pens didn't take advantage of this power play.
Hal Gill set up the play that lead to the insurance goal. He poke checked the puck ahead to Ruutu, who then stretched way out to pass the puck to Laraque for the breakaway. Whether it was intentional or not, Laraque dribbled the puck on the blade of his stick then popped it up and went top shelf to score the goal. [Pens 3, Isles 1] Immediately after the puck went into the net, Dubie jumped up and covered his face (well, his mask anyways) with his hands in disbelief. Laraque's goal celebration was hilarious! He excitedly threw himself into the boards and smashed Martinek in the process.
We were told that Hossa would not be returning because he had sustained an "upper body injury" - whatever that means! (Could they be any more vague?!) Laraque was given a penalty for hooking, but the Isles didn't score on their advantage. Mad Max took one for the team when he sprawled out on the ice to block a shot. The Pens got another power play when Ruutu was tripped by Johnson, but the Pens didn't score on their advantage. Dubie was pulled with 1:10 left in the period. MAF decided to take a chance at scoring a goal, but his shot from behind his own cage hit the back of Orpik, who was defending the front of his own open net. Fortunately, Sergei Gonchar was there to make sure it didn't cross the goal line. Geno missed the empty net on a loooong range shot, and after a few last ditch efforts from the Isles, the game ended with a Penguin victory!!!
Ruutu was the star of the game for sure. He had a career high 3 point game. Sid, meanwhile, was held scoreless. He had 3 shots in 20 shifts. He clocked 20:25 minutes of ice time. He and others later would complain that both teams were struggling because of bad ice. Incidentally, this win puts the Pens atop the Eastern Conference! The Pens face the Isles again on Sunday afternoon. GO PENS!!!!!!!!!!!!