Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pens 4 Rangers 2

The first two periods of this game resembled Sunday afternoon's game (sans the penalties)- tight defensive play, not a lot of scoring opportunities, and evenly played. That all changed when the third period started.

Right off the bat, Jordan Staal got called for the dreaded double minor high-sticking penalty. Four minutes on the penalty kill to start the 3rd. Amazingly, the Pens dominated those four minutes, limiting chances and even creating a few on the opposite end. Just as the penalty was to expire, Matt Cooke got called for roughing because he was made a fool by Callahan (first by back checking on Cooke's breakaway and then by flattening him near the boards). Another two minutes on the kill, which slightly coincided with the end of Staal's penalty creating a short 5-3. The Rangers were able to create a few more chances, but were held. You would think that coming up empty on six straight minutes of power play would swing momentum to the Pens, but instead the Rangers scored on a cheap goal a few minutes later and at that point, I was not very confident. The Pens had played a tight game to that point and didn't seem like they had it in them to create enough chances to get one past a good goalie in Lundqvist.

And then Geno pulled a Geno, taking on the entire Rangers team and drawing a penalty on his way to the net. In the ensuing PP, Geno rocketed one over Lundqvist's shoulder near post to tie the game. An absolute monster of a shot that would make Fulton Reed blush. It was one of those moments that helps you realize that this guy is still one of the most talented players in the game, inconsistencies notwithstanding. Putting Geno back up top to Gonchar's right has completely transformed the PP. It get's Sid closer to the goal and puts Geno in the right position to take advantage of his left handed slapper.

And then it was Sid's turn. He carried the puck into the Rangers zone and did a bit of an Ovechkin- he deked once, and then used the defender as a screen while putting a wrister on net. The rebound was collected by Chris Conner, who for the second time on the night, slipped one past Lundqvist's near-post side.

Dupes added an empty netter later to make it official. Bing, Bang, Boom.

I think if you ask King Henrik about the two Chris Conner goals, he would want both back. But that doesn't take anything away from Conner; on both goals he put the puck on net from good angles, which I know sounds simple, but sometimes that's all it takes. When Conner came up earlier in the season, he impressed in his first game with his speed and hustle, but sort of fell off after that. Tonight he did the same by showing off his speed, but it looked like he put himself in better position to take advantage of that speed. I know it's just one game, but my theory is that earlier in the season he was still getting used to the Pens system (which they run in Wilke-Barre and Pittsburgh), but now that he has had about forty games in the system, he may have a better idea of where to be. Now I could be completely wrong, it could have just been him getting two lucky shots set up by one of the best players in the game. But either way there's a lot of speed flanking the kid right now in Duper and Chris Conner.

Little known fact about Chris Conner, he is an alum of Michigan Tech, whose mascot is named Blizzard T. Husky. Other notable MTU alums include the great goaltender (and former Pens GM) Tony Esposito as well as Dick Robbins, the guy who built the machine that dug the Chunnel and caused an earthquake in Las Vegas thanks to an English Don Cheadle. Michigan Tech is located in the small town of Houghton, MI, which is located near the Canadian boarder on the Upper Peninsula, and was rated as one of the 100 best small towns in America... although Myrtle Beach was also named in that list, so, take that with a grain of salt. Don't tell me I never taught you anything.

Also, a nice game from the Flower for his first one back. Even though the second goal was cheesy, he controlled his rebounds, positioned himself well, and almost got an assist on the first goal (it was stolen from him by Letang... French-Canadian on French-Canadian crime).

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