by Tony on 01/09/09 at 02:31 AM ET
It sure looked good for Penguins fans for, oh, the first 24 minutes of the game, didn’t it ??
Well, unfortunately, that’s when the Pens did a repeat performance of what they’ve done so many times in the past. After taking a 3-0 lead, including a couple goals on very fortunate bounces of the puck, the Penguins coasted for the rest of the night, and the Predators took full advantage of it, climbing all the way back with five unanswered goals for a 5-3 win.
It’s not like the Preds were playing well themselves, losing five in a row. But give them credit, they took the play directly to the Pens for the remainder of the game, and it paid off with a couple of pure hustle goals. Conversely, even though the Penguins had a 3-0 lead, they only had 10 shots on goal through two periods, including only 7 shots on goal with that 3-0 lead.
The Penguins got on the board first when Sidney Crosby brought the puck into the Preds zone with a burst of speed. That initial attempt was foiled by the Preds defense, but Crosby eventually got the loose puck back, where he then fed it quickly to Petr Sykora on the right slot for a one-timer that beat Dan Ellis for a 1-0 Penguins lead with about six minutes remaining in the first period.
For the second game in a row, the Pens got some nice bounces of the puck to expand their lead in the second period. Jordan Staal, who was “rewarded” with a 4 year/$16 million dollar contract earlier in the day (my comments on that Friday) fired a backhanded shot that was stopped by Ellis, but the Preds D-man in his attempt to clear the puck deflected it off another D-man and into the net to make it 2-0 Pens. Ellis was pulled after that goal.
That lead grew seconds later when Matt Cooke and Max Talbot went in the Preds’ zone on a 2-on-1 break. Cooke’s initial shot was stopped, but the loose puck travelled to Talbot across the goal crease. Talbot banged it home past new goalie Pekka Rinne to make it 3-0 Pens, and all was well, or so it appears.
But that was when the Penguins took their foot off the Preds throat. About eight minutes into the second period, Martin Erat scored on a backhanded rebound goal after Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t find the puck on the initial shot on goal to make it 3-1. About five minutes later, the Penguins were actually on a powerplay, but the Preds penalty kill was very aggressive. A turnover resulted in a 2-on-1 short-handed break with Erat and David Legwand, with Legwand getting a great drop pass for the one-timer past Fleury to cut the lead to 3-2. The Preds completed their comeback with only 55 seconds remaining in the second period when Jerred Smithson made a nice hustling play near the goal and was able to fire a wrister to the top shelf past Fleury while he was falling down to tie the game at 3 apiece.
The third period saw the Penguins step it up more than the first two periods with 15 shots on net. The problem was that Rinne was sharp, including some good saves in the closing minutes. The Preds got the eventual game-winning goal nine minutes into the period on a Ryan Suter slapper from the point that deflected off Mark Eaton’s glove and past Fleury to make it 4-3 Preds. A Greg Zanon empty netter closed out the scoring.
So now the question becomes, is this bad loss the one that makes Penguins’ ownership pull the trigger on a coaching change ?? I would say if it’s going to happen, it won’t be until after the Colorado game on Saturday. The reason I say this is because the Penguins are returning home for one day before heading to Philly on Monday.
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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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