Thursday, March 18, 2010

Answering the Bell (And a Fleury Shutout too)

Pens fans have been waiting for a Marc-Andre Fleury shutout for what seems like an eternity now. They got one Thursday night in their 3-0 win vs Boston but it was almost like a footnote compared to the other storylines surrounding the game. None of those storylines were bigger than Matt Cooke returning to Boston in his first game against the Bruins since his collision with Marc Savard that left Savard with a grade 2 concussion and still out. Fans booed Cooke from the moment he stepped out onto the ice, and he was immediately challenged to a fight by Boston's enforcer Shawn Thornton on his first shift. Cooke "answered the bell" and immediately dropped the gloves with Thornton in a short lived but scrappy fight that had no clear winner. Now that that was out of the way, the Pens could get down to the real task at hand. Tyler Kennedy put the Pens on the board midway through the first with a snap shot that beat Boston's goalie Tuuka Rask for a 1-0 Pens lead. The first 19 and a half minutes of the second period featured nothing really exciting other than a few attempted knee shots by Boston on several Pens players, including Crosby, and a fight between Zdeno Chara and Mike Rupp. The very end, however, was when the Pens arguably put the dagger right through the hearts of Boston. Alexei Ponikarovsky deflected a Kris Letang shot in with 15 seconds to go to put the Pens up 2-0 at intermission. The Pens continued that momentum with a Mike Rupp goal 5 minutes into the third, and suddenly the screaming, booing, crazy fans at TD Garden fell silent. Some began to boo the team, some began to leave early, and one even threatened to fight every person on the Penguins' team bus. This "no show" from the Bruins in their highly hyped "revenge game" should in no way undermine the shutout of Marc-Andre Fleury. Though he made only 17 saves, he was important at keeping the Pens ahead on the scoreboard at crucial times in the game. Tonight also marked the return of Eric Godard, who missed several weeks due to injury. Though Godard was back, Evgeni Malkin missed his second straight game due to injury and it is unknown if he will play in the Pens next game. Penguins next play Saturday afternoon returning home to face the Carolina Hurricanes.

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