by Tony on 10/31/08 at 01:51 AM ET
The current four game road trip for the Penguins is quickly turning into a disaster.
With all due respect to the Phoenix Coyotes, this is a game the Penguins should win. They’re a young team that’s still a couple of years away from contention. But as it is quickly appearing, it doesn’t seem to matter who the Pens are playing nowadays.
The Coyotes took full advantage of more shoddy play by the Penguins to get the win 4-1.
The outcome was compounded by the loss of Pens’ captain Sidney Crosby, who left the ice early in the third period with an unspecified injury, although it’s not believed to be serious. He’s listed as day-to-day.
The first period was pretty wide-open, with the Coyotes being the more aggressive team. The Penguins, as mediocre as they were Tuesday night in San Jose, appeared to be skating somewhat better, but tangible results were nowhere to be found.
For as many line changes that HCMT made prior to the game, the Penguins must’ve flooded Coyotes’ goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with shots, right ?? Um, not exactly, unless you consider a deuce flooding the net. The first shot on goal for the Penguins came an incredible 15:33 into the game, when Mike Zigomanis fired a slapshot on goal short-handed. The other shot came from Brooks Orpik, and that was it.
The first tally of the game came about eight minutes into the second period just after a Phoenix powerplay on an interference penalty to Orpik had expired. Just prior, the Pens penalty kill couldn’t get the puck out of their zone, and the Coyotes retained possession as the powerplay wound down. As it expired, Zbynek Michalek fired a slapper from the center point that was wide of the net. Shane Doan took the loose puck off the end boards and made a backhanded blind pass to Penguins torturer Olli Jokinen, who was there to one-time the puck past Fleury. It was officially an even strength goal to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead.
Their lead didn’t last long, though. On the next shift, the Coyotes’ David Hale took an interference penalty, and the Penguins wasted no time knotting the game up at one. The Pens controlled the faceoff in the Coyotes’ zone upon the start of the powerplay. Alex Goligoski made a cross-ice pass for a one-timer on the right point by Evgeni Malkin, where it appeared that Bryzgalov deflected it to the glass. However, the Pens got an extremely fortunate bounce of the puck off the glass, as it landed directly in front of the goal. Miro Satan was there to make a nice baseball-ish swat at the bouncing puck and into the back of the net only 37 seconds after Jokinen’s goal.
HCMT most likely gave the Pens a good French Canadian-laced tongue lashing in the 1st intermission, because they certainly played with more intensity as the second period started. The Pens went back on the powerplay late in the second period and had a couple of great scoring chances, both by Satan, but his first hit the post and the second was stopped by Bryzgalov to keep the game tied at one.
Jordan Staal was whistled for an iffy boarding call at the 17:12 mark, and the Coyotes took advantage of it to give them the lead back. On the ensuing powerplay, Hal Gill grabbed the puck from a Coyotes’ dump-in, but unfortunately it deflected off Steven Reinprecht. Reinprecht grabbed the loose puck in the crease and passed it to Doan for an easy one-timer past Fleury to make it 2-1 Coyotes with only 2:01 left in the period.
In the third period, the Pens got two more powerplay chances. The first powerplay did nothing, and frankly the Coyotes got more scoring opportunities than the Penguins did. The second powerplay started great for the Pens, as the Coyotes quickly took another penalty for delay of game, as the Coyotes hand-passed the puck over the glass. However, the 5 on 3 was initially unsuccessful, then Satan took a hooking penalty (with a 10 minute misconduct) to make it a 4 on 3. The Penguins couldn’t score on that powerplay either, as it was basically Goligoski and Malkin playing catch with each other, while the other two stood still.
The Coyotes put the game away late in the third period as Goligoski fanned a little on his outlet pass, which was stolen by Mikkel Boedker. Boedker fed the puck in the Pens’ zone to Reinprecht, who made a nice move around Goligoski to get the puck towards the net. Kevin Porter was there to poke the puck past Fleury for his 1st NHL goal and made it 3-1 Coyotes.
Doan closed out the scoring with an empty netter with 59 seconds left to make it 4-1.
- According to the FSN ‘Burgh telecast, there were many empty seats in Phoenix tonight, unlike the Pens’ last visit a couple of years ago which was one of the few sellouts the Coyotes got.
- Malkin had 9 shots in 2nd period, which broke Mario Lemieux’s franchise record of 7, and had 10 shots for the game.
- Zigomanis continued his strong play on faceoffs, going 10 for 13 on faceoffs.
- Mark Eaton so far this year is not the Mark Eaton of old. I don’t know if it’s a residual effect of the two major injuries the past couple of years, but his defensive play is not what it once was, so far.
- It seems like such an easy adjustment, but I can’t help but watch other team’s powerplays, and watch them constantly move to create additional lanes for scoring opportunities. The Penguins simply do not do that, they entirely rely on the one-timers.
The Penguins finish up their road trip (thank goodness) on Saturday night at St. Louis.
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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