Sunday, November 7, 2010

Game 15: Pens 4, Coyotes 3

What a Game!

Penguins- 4
-Sidney Crosby (unassisted) 2-1:16
-Evgeni Malkin (Asham, Martin) 2-4:18
-Chris Kunitz (Letestu, Crosby) 2-19:26
Crosby- X
Letang- X
Letestu- O
W- Johnson (22-23) (SO: 3-3)
ND- Fleury (3-5)

Coyotes- 3
-Eric Belanger (Wolski, Larsson) 1-2:35
-Radim Vrbata (Whitney, Turris) 1-6:56
-Wojtek Wolski (Belanger, Stempniak) 2-15:36
Vrbata- X
Wolski- X
Korpikoski- X
L- Bryzgalov (33-36) (SO: 2-3)

Trying to choose a witty saying to describe this game would be nearly impossible because there were just so many things to say. You can focus on the Pens' disasterous start and Fleury's very early exit, or maybe the 2 very contraversial calls that lead to a 2 goal swing in favor of the Coyotes, or possibly the Pens' storming back in the 2nd lead by their superstar tandem of Sid and Geno, and finally you can talk about the fantastic ending that brought the Pens their first win in a week. The Pens came out flat and quickly found themselves down 2-0 thanks to goals by Eric Belanger and Radim Vrbata, and that was all that HCDB needed to see. He pulled a clearly shaken up Marc-Andre Fleury out of the game just 7 minutes into a game that many expected he wouldn't start and instead put in Brent Johnson. That 2nd goal by Vrbata was heavily contested because, quite frankly, it wasn't supposed to be a goal. The official originally called a hook on Deryk Engelland and then the puck managed to trickle into the DISLODGED net. After review, the official announced that the ruling on the ice had been confirmed and then pointed goal after never calling it a goal in the 1st place. As if this wasn't contraversial enough, Sid shot one that looked very much in but it was also waived off because of a penalty by Pascal Dupuis. Whether or not the puck was in can be debated but what is obvious is that the call on Dupuis was very weak and should have never been called.

Things were looking very gloomy at intermission, but it didn't take long for the Pens' two-headed monster to change that. Sidney Crosby pulled Pittsburgh within one with a nice steal and shoot and then Evgeni Malkin tied it up a few minutes later with a great stickhandling move followed by a quick shot from the side of the net. Wojtek Wolski gave Phoenix the lead with a strange deflection off of the skate of Paul Martin, but Chris Kunitz equalized the game again with a powerplay goal (yes you read that right, POWERPLAY goal) in the closing seconds of the 2nd. The only other major highlight was a square-off between former WBS enforcer Paul Bissionette (AKA BizNasty) and Deryk Engelland. Biz probably got the best of him this time, but I would expect a rematch when these 2 teams meet next month in Pittsburgh. The third period was a defensive struggle that saw both Johnson and Bryzgalov flashing some serious leather and regulation ended in a 3-3 tie. Overtime looked promising for the Pens when they got a powerplay with 1:23 to go, but they just couldn't get it past Bryzgalov.

Shootout Recap

-Radim Vrbata appeared to have Johnson beat with a backhand move when Johnson reached out and poke checked the puck safely away. SAVE

-Sidney Crosby made a whole bunch of side-to-side moves and probably one too many because once he had finally beaten Bryzgalov it was too late to lift it into the net. The puck slammed right into the pads. SAVE

-Wojtek Wolski came in with a full head of steam and tried to deke Johnson at the end but Brent held his ground and did not take the fake. SAVE

-Kris Letang, much like Crosby, looked to have some daylight but could not elevate the puck enough to score. SAVE

-Lauri Korpikoski came in very fast and missed the net wide left. MISS

-Letestu simplified his approach and went five-hole. It was a move that he had executed very well back in Wilkes-Barre, and he proved himself very much worthy of that place in the shootout lineup. GOAL.

Game Changing Play

Letestu's clutch shootout goal.


Offense- B+ Ilya Bryzgalov is one of the better goalies in the league, so 4 is pretty good against him.

Defense- B+ There were a few times when they just gave Phoenix some wonderful opportunities, but for the most part they limited the Coyotes' chances and held the fort in front of Johnson.

Johnson- A Came in cold off the bench thinking he had the night off and he went 22-23 and was perfect in the shootout. What more can you ask?

Fleury- Yea, I'm not going to grade him but if you look at his numbers you can probably figure out an accurate grade for yourself.

Powerplay- B- That missed opportunity at the end of OT was pretty bad. They did manage to score one goal on the PP and didn't look bad in some of their other opportunities on the man advantage, but that last one stung.

Penalty Kill- A- Again they didn't need to be all that busy but they did the job when they had to.

3 Big Points

-Pulling Fleury was the right move. It is far too often that you see a struggling goalie get the benefit of the doubt and then continue to give up goals until the game is out of reach. This was also the spark that ignited the fire into the team. Fleury was just having a bad night, and hopefully he will be better next time.

-If major fighters like BizNasty and Parros (yesterday) are choosing to challenge Engelland, then I guess Godard's job is in serious jeopardy. Not so much for Rupp because Mike is a solid all-around grinder.

-This win was absolutely huge for the Pens, and they can go home on a good note knowing they at at least got some points from the West.

My 3 Stars
1. Brent Johnson
2. Sidney Crosby
3. Mark Letestu

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