Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 05/21/09 at 11:31 PM ET
On Thursday night, the Penguins and Hurricanes played game two of their series after 72 hours off. It was expected to be a great game, and it was for two periods. If you’re a Penguins fan, it got even better than “great” when Evgeni Malkin took control of the game in period three, leading his team to an easy 7-4 win.
The first period was complete chaos. Five goals and just two penalties. The second period, where the Penguins have traditionally sputtered, ended up being crucial in that they dominated the period in every way. The third period was all Malkin.
The Pens scored two times in the opening frame, and a big light (aside from the red light) went off. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each potted a goal. In the regular season, the Penguins were 20-3-1 when both players scored. They were 3-0 entering this game when both scored. Make it 4-0.
Each time the Pens scored, the Hurricanes answered almost immediately. First it was Chad LaRose answering Crosby. Then Jussi Jokinen returned Malkin’s serve. Dennis Seidenberg gave the Canes a 3-2 lead at 12:10 of the first and it was clear that nothing would be normal about this game. Five total goals in ther first 13 minutes.
The second period has usually been the one where the Penguins have relaxed too much and played poorly. Not so in this game. Pittsburgh outshot Carolina 16-6 in the middle frame and scored the only two goals. Maxime Talbot had the tying goal at 3:14, then Chris Kunitz with a backbreaking go-ahead goal at 19:53 of the second. Those goals surrendered in the first or last minute of a period will bite you in the ass almost every time.
The Talbot goal resulted from a horrible line change by the Canes. Talbot came into the zone all alone and easily beat Ward.
Carolina had about 45 seconds of a four-on-three power play in the middle of the second, but it didn’t go well. In fact, Carolina didn’t register a single SOG during the sequence. The Pens’ PK units were masterful in their denial of shooting and passing lanes, and they killed it off like it was nothing. As I watched it live, it seemed like a defining moment.
What made the Kunitz goal especially tough is that he put on a little clinic there, making an amazing individual effort. Carolina shut down and waited for the horn. This is a trap that Carolina has seen many an opponent fall into, and they fell victim to it tonight.
Even though the Pens utterly dominated the middle frame, it still felt like the game could go either way.
Patrick Eaves leveled the score at four goals apiece at 2:35 of the third, and that would be the last good thing that would happen for the Hurricanes.
Evgeni Malkin scored what proved to be the game-winner at 8:50 on a point-blank stuff in. Ward made one stop, then another, and on the third whack at it, Malkin got it past Ward. Meanwhile, Tim Gleason was doing something other than playing defense for the Carolina Hurricanes. Malkin wasn’t done, though….
Malkin potted an unassisted goal at 12:25 of the third to complete the hat trick. And it was a stunning goal. Off the draw, he wrapped around the net, then lifted a backhanded shot past Cam Ward. It was then, officially, a horrible night for #30.
Tyler Kennedy kicked the PAT into an empty net, and the Pens won 7-4. As if things weren’t bad enough, frustrations boiled over for the Canes and things got really chippy in the closing seconds. After a seemingly inconsequential icing call behind M-A Fleury, the Hurricanes forwards started to shove the Penguins forwards. Then the shoving became reciprocated, and the shoving became punching. While Tim Gleason fought Kris Letang, Patty Eaves fought Miro Satan. In the midst of that skirmish, Carolina’s Ryan Bayda picked up a match penalty. For what, I don’t know. Depending upon the specific infraction, he could face some additional discipline.
For everyone involved, not the least of which was the referees, the game couldn’t end soon enough. The two teams will meet in Raleigh on Saturday evening. Unless Carolina can make some drastic changes, there might not be much more to this series.
While the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings have a two games to none lead in the West, the defending Eastern Conference champion Pittsburgh Penguins have the same lead.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.