Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pair of Shootouts

It's a good day to be a fan of the Pens organization, as both Pittsburgh and WBS were able to steal a victory in the most exciting way the sport has to offer. The shootout.

Pittsburgh 6, Toronto 5
The Pens were finally able to stop their 4 game losing streak with a huge win in the shootout against the Leafs.

And once again Alexei Kovalev is making his presence felt, and in a huge way. Kovy scored the first goal of the game for the Pens with a perfect snipe, and then struck again in the shootout with the GWG.

The game was full of momentum swings, with the Pens taking control at the end of the second with a pair of goals from Letestu (on his first game back) and Jeffrey (on his 2nd game back) late in the period. Those guys are a huge asset working as 2nd and 3rd line centers, and it's great to see that they haven't missed a beat with their injuries.

The Leafs took advantage of a murderous opening shift and got a pair of quick ones to take the lead back, but Max Talbot converted on a shorthanded breakaway to tie it up again. It's nice to see him finally get on the board again, but I still think in the overall perspective of things that he's trade bait.

Phaneuf put the Leafs back on top just a minute later, but Mike Rupp knotted the game back up again with a fantastic diving goal. It was by far the prettiest goal you will ever see Mike Rupp score, and it's refreshing to see him get on the board as well.

Overtime was blah, and Fleury was in lockdown mode in the shootout. Really the underrated moment of the entire scoring-filled game was his amazing toe save on Lupul in the shootout to set up Kovy with the GWG in the second round.

-Nobody can deny that "Kovy-redux" has had quite the effect on the Pens in both games so far, but especially tonight. His hands are still unreal, and he made a few passes today that probably only Crosby can duplicate. The thought of those 2 on the same line in the playoffs already makes me excited, but that's a long way off.

-Neal and Niskanen continue to impress. Neal (playing with Staal and Kovy) has made a difference with his hard working offense as well as his backchecking, and Niskanen has been pretty close to shutdown in his 3 games with the Pens so far.

-Though the defenders each put in pretty good individual efforts, there is no denying that they are missing Martin and Orpik quite a bit. That being said, Ben Lovejoy was awesome tonight and Brian Strait is proving that he is capable of playing at this level as well.

-Penalty kill has looked shaky for the last few games. Obviously the absence of Orpik is taking it's toll, but the rest of the unit has to get back to its usual aggressive style of PK.

Impact: If you're an optimist you can look at how the Pens picked up 2 points on the Flyers. If you're not, you can celebrate the Pens putting 2 points on Buffalo and obviously Toronto. Either way, it's a huge 2 points.

but if you thought the big Pens game was exciting, you should see WBS...

WBS 3, Norfolk 2

Unreal shootout tonight in the Big Mo. 11 rounds, 9 goals, and some really unlikely heroes.

After usual shootout threats Veilleux and Sterling connected, it was Bryan Lerg, Zach Sill, and Joey Haddad who converted in the shootout to give the Pens a big 2 points.

Theissen (who wasn't even supposed to play tonight until he was put in after Norfolk's 2nd goal) struggled at first but then corrected himself and stopped enough shots to give his team the win.

Pens goals in regulation were scored by Robert Bortuzzo and newest superstar Ben Street.

I can't go on enough about Street (who has 9 goals and 12 points in 15 games). He has been absolutely clutch for WBS in the absence of leaders like Jeffrey and Tangradi. Oh, and you should really look for a video of Sterling's shootout move.

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