Thursday, November 22, 2007

Give Thanks: Pens Somehow Pull One Out

The Ottawa Senators have clearly been the class of the Eastern Conference over the first seven weeks of the season. Given how the Pens have played, if you told me:
  • the Penguins would be on the road AND
  • in a two-goal hole not once but twice (including in the 3rd period) AND
  • that the Sens would tally 5 goals and Sidney Crosby and Geno Malkin would combine for 1 goal and 1 assist

I'd tell you another Penguins loss.

But it wasn't to be, thanks to Jarrko Ruutu's game deciding shootout goal in a 6-5 decision. To get the win is huge, but the manner and fashion to which the Penguins EARNED this outcome is even more important.


  • Colby Armstrong and Ryan Malone were great (combining for 2g, 3a and a +4). They got the chance to play with Crosby at even strength and made the most of it. When both players play aggressively and with and edge, they're at their best.
  • Quiet night on the scoreboard for Jordan Staal (who at least recorded an assist, only his 2nd of the year) and Erik Christensen. But both were instrumental in the win by doing the little things; most notably EC's shootout goal.
  • After giving up 2 goals on 4 shots, Fleury got the quick hook. The team wasn't playing horrible to that point, but obviously Therrien's gamble paid off. If it didn't, one has to wonder, would he be joining Glen Hanlon in the unemployment line?
  • Your Sergei Gonchar line for the night: 1 goal, 1 assist, +2, 30:35 TOI, 3 blocked shots, 1 hit, 1 glorious game-saving takeaway. Another magnificent night for the Sarge.

This game could surely be analyzed much more. Like the Pens poor powerplay ratio or getting badly outshot, etc, etc.

At the end of the day, 2 points in the ledger is 2 points in the ledger. This was surely one of the most intense games of the season and the definition of a satisfying win. Play this same game 5 times and the Sens might very well win 4 of them again, like they did in the 2007 playoffs. But right now the Pens came away with the W and perhaps remember what it's like to play uptempo, exciting hockey. And a little more confidence from a win.

Next up, a day off and then a visit from the red hot Atlanta Thrashers (11-4 since coaching change). But for now, let's soak up this victory. A happy Thanksgiving to you all. One made happier still by the Pens outcome tonight!

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