by Tony on 11/29/08 at 02:06 AM ET
It sure seems as though the Penguins’ fortunes, may they be good or bad, are told in the third period.
That was certainly the case during Wednesday’s game vs. the Islanders, where the Penguins scored 4 third-period goals to complete a 5-3 comeback win.
But it’s also been the case in games like tonight’s, where the Penguins held a 3-2 lead going into the third period, only to lose 4-3 to the Sabres at HSBC Arena.
The story of the night, other than the all-too-familiar blown lead for the Penguins, was the continued downfall of their powerplay. What was once ranked earlier in the season in the top handfull of powerplays in the NHL had come into tonight’s game tied for 17th place.
So much for those changes that HCMT and Mike Yeo made. They moved the puck well for exactly one powerplay against the Islanders, but tonight it was right back to standing still. Tonight’s woeful 0-for-7 powerplay performance might just bring their ranking down into the 20’s. That includes a 5-on-3 at the start of the third period. Simply remarkable for a team with that much talent.
NOTE: Please save your “no Gonchar” comments, thanks. You can’t blame everything on the loss of Gonchar.
So I’m going to raise the question; Do you think Coach Mike Yeo is to blame for the Penguins’ failure on the powerplay ??
Anyway, things started well for the Pens, who got some early contributions from their grittiest line. Tyler Kennedy passed the puck along the end boards to Matt Cooke, who brought the puck around the back of the goal and fired a great centering pass for Kennedy for the easy tap-in to give the Pens a 1-0 lead about midway through the first period. However, the Sabres came right back not even a minute later when Max Afinogenov made a nice hustling play around the net to fire a centering pass to Drew Stafford who banged it home to tie the game at one goal apiece.
The Sabres took the lead in the second period on the powerplay when a scramble in front of the net resulted in the puck getting to the stick of Paul Gaustad, who was able to bang the rebound past Penguins’ goalie John Curry, who was making his 1st NHL start, to give the Sabres a 2-1 lead. However, just like the first set of goals, the Penguins came back 34 seconds later when Evgeni Malkin’s slapper went wide. Sidney Crosby took the rebound off the wall, deflected it into the air, and batted it into the net to tie the game at two.
Crosby gave the Pens their second lead of the game in the final minute of the second period when Malkin stole the puck in the neutral zone. Crosby grabbed the loose puck, skated in on Sabres’ goalie Ryan Miller, faked a slapshot, then fired a wrister through the five-hole to give the Pens a 3-2 lead.
Stafford scored his second goal of the game about three minutes into the third period to the the game at three, then Gaustad scored the game winner with 3:24 remaining in the game after Jason Pominville centered the puck to the goal.
Curry was the hard luck loser tonight, making some spectacular saves in the third period to keep the Penguins in the game.
- Kris Letang simply needs to shoot the puck. He has too much offensive talent to be so damn bashful about shooting the puck.
- The referees were horrible, for both teams. I won’t name any one play, both teams got hosed several times.
- Philippe Boucher left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury and didn’t return.
- Janne Pesonen dressed for the Pens tonight, but only played six minutes.
- Ruslan Fedotenko was the healthy scratch to make room for Pesonen. This is one decision from Therrien I agree with, he’s been invisible lately.
- Another all-too-familiar indication of this type of game from the Penguins; Only 3 shots on goal in the third period.
The Penguins will have only their second back-to-back game of the season tomorrow night at the Igloo vs. the Devils.
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Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.
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.
I am blogger- credentialed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. My posts are regularly linked by hockey websites such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Yahoo!‘s Puck Daddy, and I’ve done numerous guest blogger spots on such websites asthe New YorkTimes. I am a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer.
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