Friday, November 19, 2010

Game 21: Pens 5, Hurricanes 4

Saved by the shootout.

Penguins- 5
-Chris Kunitz (Malkin, Crosby) 1-8:55
-Tyler Kennedy (Crosby, Letang) 1-11:15
-Sidney Crosby (Michalek, Malkin) 1-8:15
-Chris Kunitz (Crosby, Malkin) 3-8:18
Letang- GOAL
Crosby- GOAL
W- Fleury (30-34) (2-2 SO)

Hurricanes- 4
-Brandon Sutter (Pitkanen, Jokinen) 1-0:42
-Patrick Dwyer (Jokinen, White) 1-15:46
-Jussi Jokinen (McBain, Dwyer) 2-11:19
-Jussi Jokinen (Staal, Ruutu) 3-19:08
Skinner- MISS
Jokinen- SAVE
L- Peters (32-36) (0-2 SO)

The Pens squeaked out a close one, and quite frankly sometimes its better not to ask questions and just take the 2 points and run. Right off the bat Carolina took a 1-0 lead off of a Brandon Sutter goal, but Pittsburgh dug deep to recover. Chris Kunitz was on a rampage Friday night, and he was the one who tied the game with a wrist shot following a nice setup from Malkin. Tyler Kennedy gave the Pens a 2-1 lead a few minutes later with a empty net tap in set up by a cross ice feed across the paint from his buddy Sid. (It's a wonder Sid didn't gift wrap it as an early Christmas present) Carolina tied the game a bit later in the 1st though when Patrick Dwyer capitalized on mass confusion in the Pens' defensive zone and chipped it past Fleury. Fleury had no idea where it was (neither did any of the d-men) until it was in the back of the net.

Sid put the Pens back on top with a nice slapshot. On that play, Evgeni Malkin got an assist and also his 400th career point. Of course the Canes would get back into it again when Jussi Jokinen tapped it into a completely empty net when Carolina again capitalized on some defensive confusion and easily tied up the game. Then Kunitz notched his 2nd goal of the night on a play that I'm sure will be analyzed heavily over the next few days.

Kunitz fired one point blank into Peters and the puck eventually trickled through his pads and into the back of the net. As the puck was loose behind Peters and working its way across the line the official blew his whistle. It was called no goal on the ice, but was overturned after further review and counted as a good goal. One can never count on a television soundtrack to be 100% accurate and it really was too close to call, but the most important thing to remember is that the whistle should have never been blown in the first place. I don't care when it blew because the last time I checked you weren't supposed to whistle down a live puck. Needless to say, its a good goal and should have been surely enough to put the game to bed.

But it wasn't. In their 2nd last-minute defensive choke in the last 3 games, the Pens gave up the game tying goal with just 52 seconds remaining in the contest and the game was headed to OT. Not really much to talk about in overtime other than a few decent chances both ways but nothing spectacular.

Shooutout Roundup:

-Kris Letang put down an absolutely incredible juke on Peters when he went to the backhand in the last minute and then elevated it right into the twine. GOAL

-Jeff Skinner got a little too creative and eventually fired the puck over the crossbar. Even if he did score it probably wouldn't have counted because he went backwards for a stride when approaching the net. MISS

-Sidney Crosby simplified his approach and flicked it right through the five-hole to put the Pens up 2-0. GOAL

-Jussi Jokinen went as wide as he always did and then tried one of his famous backhand drag moves but Fleury was able to stretch himself out like a rubber band and get the pad out to stop him. SAVE

Game Changing Play:
Letang's shootout goals was one of the best I've seen in a while and would give the Pens all they would need for victory.


Offense: B+ They had some ups and downs for were on the upside for the most part.

Defense: C They just weren't that good. They made several critical mistakes that lead to goals and several more that could have just as well been goals. I guess no harm no foul but they looked more confused that anything.

Fleury: B He really didn't play all that great throughout the game but that last save on Jokinen has to count for something.

Powerplay: B+ Only had 2 opportunities. They scored their first goal just a few seconds after their first PP had expired, and it was essentially the powerplay unit that scored it. Kunitz's controversial 2nd goal was also on the powerplay.

Penalty Kill: A- Only had to go to work twice (both times on Engelland penalties) and killed both off efficiently.

3 Big Points:

-Not only did Kunitz contribute on the scoreboard, but he was hitting and hustling like a man possessed. Perhaps the greatest embodiment of this hustle is when he leaped up full extension on the Pens' first PP to grab the puck down with the glove and hold it in the zone. This later prompted the Dan Potash nickname "Air Kunitz." Wonder if it will stick?

-Probably the cleanest game the Pens have been involved in all year. No fights and hardly even any shoving after the whistles. Carolina isn't really a physical team, but this was exceptionally clean even for them.

-I noticed that in the 3rd period Bylsma had Asham and Malkin separated. I would say that was a mistake because they have so much good chemistry together.

My 3 Stars:

1. Chris Kunitz
2. Sidney Crosby
3. Jussi Jokinen

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