by Tony on 11/12/08 at 01:55 AM ET
You folks have no idea how many variations of negativity I was planning on putting in the title of this post.
The Red Wings’ stifling forecheck, their transition game, expertly having bodies in front of the net, having the Penguins on their heels, it looked lousy for the Pens for a lot of this game.
But Jordan Staal led a furious Penguins’ comeback with his 2nd career hat trick and caused the turnover that resulted in the game-winning goal in overtime by Ruslan Fedotenko, giving the Penguins an improbable 7-6 win over the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Things were not going well at all for long periods of time for the Penguins, who were down 5-2 and 6-4 late in the game. But credit has to be given to the Pens, who did not pack it in, as previous incarnations of this team would have done.
It was actually the Pens who got on the board first, as Sidney Crosby got a nice feed from Miro Satan and put a backhander to the top shelf past Chris Osgood to make it 1-0 Pens about four and a half minutes into the game.
But the Wings turned up the heat later in the first period with two goals within a couple of minutes. The first happened after a fortunate high deflection bounced in the slot, where Darren McCarty was there to smartly turn and put a puck on net that Fleury couldn’t stop to tie the game at one. A couple of minutes later on a Wings’ powerplay Tomas Holmstrom made a great tip of a Nik Lidstrom slapper from the point through Fleury’s five hole to make it 2-1 Wings.
In the second period, after yet another Penguins penalty, Brooks Orpik actually stopped a cross-ice pass, but the puck remained at his feet. Jiri Hudler was there to move the puck to the wide-open Johan Franzen for the easy poke into the net to make it 3-1 Wings only a minute into the second.
The Penguins got a fortunate bounce of their own a few minutes later when Petr Sykora’s centering pass went off the skate of Max Talbot and into the net to make it 3-2 Wings.
It remained that way until late in the second when Pavel Datsyuk fired a one-timer that Holmstrom was completely shielding Fleury on, he never saw the puck, and it was 4-2 Wings. In the third period, again on the powerplay, Henrik Zetterberg made a beautiful backhanded tip of a Hudler centering pass to make it 5-2, and it looked like a Red Wings blowout.
However, the Penguins started storming back as a result of a near-two minute 5-on-3 powerplay. After most of it was expired, because of the Pens again standing around on the PP, Satan made a quick pass back to Malkin, who then fired a wicked wrister off the left post and in the net to make it 5-3. The Pens cut into the lead again just over a minute later after a great shift by Staal, Mike Zigomanis and Matt Cooke to keep the puck in the Wings’ zone. Zigomanis’ centering pass deflected high, then Cooke made a great centering pass to Staal, who backhanded the puck to the top shelf to make it 5-4.
But, the Wings were there yet again to pad their lead a couple of minutes later. Hudler fired a seemingly harmless slapper from the right slot that Fleury should have easily stopped. Clearly a soft goal, and it made it 6-4, and again it seemed the Pens were doomed.
Hold that thought.
The Penguins had another good shift with about five minutes remaining in the game. Kris Letang fired a wrister from the right point that didn’t make it to the goal, but Staal was there again to poke in the rebound to make it 6-5.
With the Pens still down a goal, the Pens pulled Fleury with about a minute remaining in the game. They almost scored on a Crosby backhander, but Osgood made the stop. With about 30 seconds remaining, Zigomanis won another faceoff, then Alex Goligoski fed the puck to Malkin for a slapper from the right point. Osgood made the stop, but the rebound bounced in front of the net for a few seconds before Staal was there again to bang the puck into the net to complete the improbable comeback.
As overtime begun, the Penguins actually had a powerplay for the first 1:56 of it, but once again they were standing in quicksand and didn’t score. However, a couple of minutes later, Staal made a great steal after a backcheck of Datsyuk that created a 2-on-1 break. Staal fed Fedotenko for a nice one-timer that Osgood couldn’t stop to give the Penguins the incredible 7-6 win.
Clearly the win of the year for the Penguins, especially considering how many times they looked completely out of the game.
Welcome back, Jordan Staal. Let’s hope this jump-starts his offense, no doubt the Penguins could use it.
Some other notes:
- Powerplay was 1 for 5. Something needs to be done, they’re so damn predictable now.
- Rob Scuderi took a puck on the foot or ankle in the first period and didn’t return. His prognosis is unknown at this time.
- The line of Kennedy, Staal and Cooke was easily the best of the night for the Pens. Their speed and forechecking was really troublesome for the Wings on several shifts.
- The Penguins really need someone to bang bodies in front of the net. Brendan Shanahan, anyone ??
- Staal was a game-high +4, Datsyuk a game-low -3.
- Cooke did his job again tonight, registering 6 hits.
4th win in a row for the Penguins, who return home now for games against the Flyers on Thursday and the Sabres on Saturday.
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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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