For the first time ever, I’m home long enough before the game starts to write an intro to the recap, woo!
Players to Watch:
Pens: Kris Letang – Letang is now the most voted for Defenseman in the All Star Game in the league. And he’s not even on the ballot. Look for that to be a confidence boost.
Sidney Crosby – 16 Game points streak. Will it stop tonight? Let’s hope not. He’s also 8 points ahead of Stamkos, and 3 goals ahead of him. Though Stamkos has one game less played than Sid. (Prediction, Stamkos scores 3G and 5A in his next game to keep on pace with Sid. Not.)
Marc-Andre Fleury – Has managed to pull himself up to 25th in SV% and 11th in GAA after having a dismal season start. He’s 11-0-1 in his last 12.
Derek Engelland – Made his name as a fighter KOing the Leafs’ Colton Orr. Will we see Round 2? (Hint: Yes)
Leafs – Clarke McArthur. 9G-12A in 26 Games. Mikhail Grabovski 6G-12A in 26GP. Nikolai Kulemen 9G-8A in 26GP. Phil Kessel 10G-5A in 26GP. Kris Versteeg 8G-7A in 25GP, (on my fantasy team, but screw him nonetheless!)
Colby Armstrong (former Penguin and teammate to Sid), but he hasn’t been a factor. 1G-0A in 10GP
Jonas (Yo-ness) Gustavsson AKA “The Monster” is .908 SV% and 2.75 GAA in 13 starts with a 4-7-2 record.
Colton Orr – Got KOed by Engelland last time the two teams met. Looking for Round 2? (Hint: Yes)
Team Stats: The Pens are 19-8-2, but have dropped the only game against the Leafs this season. The Pens are 8th in Goals/Game at 3.07, and 3rd in Goals Against/Game at 2.31. Pens PK is 2nd in the league at 88.8%.
The Leafs are 10-12-4. They are 27th in Goals/Game with 2.19 and 20th in Goals Against/Game at 2.85. Their PK is second to last in the league at 75.3%
MKN’s key comments:
Last night, the Leafs were down 4-1 at the start of the third to Washington. They came back and won in the shootout. Do not count them out at any point. Let me say that again. DO NOT COUNT THE LEAFS OUT AT ANY POINT.
Last time we played, the Leafs won 4-3 with only 14 shots. MAF’s been playing much better, so if we hold them to a similar number of shots we should pull this one out.
The Flyers are playing against the Sharks tonight. The Flyers will start and end the night with 1 game less than us, but are currently only 2 points behind us. If the Pens pull more points out of this game than Philly, we won’t have to worry about them catching us once they even the Games Played number tomorrow.
A lot of people say that Engelland got lucky with his KO of Orr, and that he’s not a good fighter. Round 2 holds a lot of meaning if Engelland wins or draws.
Game Start! Pens win the faceoff, Sid taking the draw.
Kunitz rings it off the outside of the post less than 50 seconds in.
Looks like with Malkin out the second line is Cooke-Talbot-Asham. Sounds like a good line.
Michalek’s getting better at keeping his shots on net. Good scoring chance.
Leafs ice the puck. Faceoff in the O-Zone.
A lot of possession time for the Pens, the Leafs get it but go offsides. Wait, they got called to too many men on the ice. PP Pens!
Paul Martin stops two, yeah two, clearing attempts. Nice work. Love Martin’s play on the PP. Gustavsson stops it. Sid takes a penalty for goaltender interference, after shoving Colby Armstrong into Gustavsson when Armstrong tried to check him into the goalpost. 4 on 4, then a short PK for the Pens.
Martin makes a good play, and Conner(?) almost scores, but Gustavsson makes a good play and saves it.
PP starts for the Leafs, but the Pens kill it. Sid carries the shot into the zone, and shoots it! He hits the post! Kunitz on the rebound, and another post! AND SID TOUCHES IT IN! 1-0 PENS!
After a little while, the Buzzer line (Conner-Letestu-Kennedy) gets a 3 on 1. Conner takes a pass right in front of the net, dekes, backhand! But Gustavsson stops it!
Flower makes a great long pass and Talbot almost helps Flower pick up an A with a shot, but Gustavsson stops it…and holds another shot. After Gustavsson stops it, Asham roughs up Armstrong to respond for his run at Sid. Asham gets a roughing call, and the Pens are on the PK. However, as long as they don’t score, I wholeheartedly approve of this.
PK is pretty boring for a while. Until Michalek blocks a shot out of play. Asham gets out of the box, and gets a good rush, and shoots! Stopped, but it sets up good zone time. Way to send a message Asham.
Here comes Round 2! Engelland and Orr drop the gloves. Engelland knocks Orr’s helmet off with the first punch. Holds Orr’s right arm out of the fight, and lands some good punches. Engelland dodges some punches, and hits Orr with a few good shots. Not too many shots, but I felt a clear win for Derek, known as the ‘King of Engelland’ in Pittsburgh, because of his ability to hold Orr’s right arm out of the play, and a few really nice punches on Orr.
Kennedy gets buried. Didn’t see the shot coming, and the puck barely was on his stick. Hits his head off the ice, and he looks tired getting up.
Phil Kessel gets a good shot off in the crease! But Fleury stops it. Pens ice the puck, and use their timeout.
Conner gets the puck, and feeds Letestu. Great shot stopped by Gustavsson.
Cooke almost bangs it in short side, but his stick snaps. The Pens maintain possession and end the period in the Leafs’ end.
Period Recap: Pens lead Leafs in shots 13-4, and faceoffs 14-4. The Leafs had not a single shot on either of their powerplays. The Pens had one shot on their abbreviated PP. And Engelland wins his fight against Orr, at least in my eyes. We’ll see what hockeyfights.com has to say about it later.
Period two starts. Kris Letang moves in deep into the zone, and ends up behind the net. Feeds Dupuis right in the net, Gustavsson’s out of position, but he can’t make the shot!
Fleury moves behind the net to play it but whiffs on the pass! The Leafs could have scored if they’d had a man coming down the middle, but Fleury back gets into position.
The Leafs’ Kessel takes a shot off the rush, but Fleury stops it.
Kunitz almost buries a rebound!
Interesting stat on the screen now. The Pens have only allowed 15 Goals on this 10 game win streak.
Martin moves in and weaves the puck between the Leafs players for a shot! No dice, but I like to see that play.
And the Leafs take another too many men penalty, haha. Pens PP. Don’t take a penalty again here, Sid.
Martin makes a rare turnover, but the scoring chance is blocked.
Offside call on the Pens, replay shows it was onside. Ugh, refs this year.
PP dies, not so great. But Conner knocks one of the Leafs who was much bigger than him off his feet. Decent consolation prize.
Kessel gets a shot alone in the slot, but it’s bouncing and he fans. Phew.
Some really good shots from Crosby, Martin, Kunitz, and Dupuis, but Gustavsson, stops, stops, stops, and gloves those shots, respectively. Faceoff.
Adams goes off for boarding. PP Leafs. Phil Kessel gets to the crease, but Cooke pokes it off his stick, and Fleury grabs it. Michalek blocks a shot, and he’s slow getting back up. Fleury stops another good shot.
Dupuis pokes the puck through a defender’s legs. And we’ve got a 2-on-0! Kunitz gets the puck and taps it to Dupuis. Gustavsson tries to anticipate a pass and moves a bit right, but Dupuis shoots it as soon as he does and scores! 2-0 Pens!
Penalty Killed, and Adams gets a breakaway! But Gustavsson tips it with his glove wide.
Kennedy brings it in, Conner taps it, Kennedy wins a board battle, falls down, the puck bounces off a Leafs’ defenseman, and Letestu buries it! There’s our Buzzer line! 3-0 Pens!
And before you can say “We seem to be running away with this…” Kunitz and Crosby get a 2-on-1 from a beautiful outlet pass from Orpik. Kunitz dishes to Sid, and do I have to tell you the rest? Sid buries it! 4-0 Pens!
The backup goalie for the Leafs is nursing an injury, so Gustavsson stays in.
And Asham’s fighting. As expected, the guy has like 5 inches on him. Komisarek is the Goliath this time. Asham starts out taking a few jabs and getting press up the boards. He can’t seem to get any shots in, so he dumps Komisarek to the ice. I’ll call that a draw, but we’ll see what hockeyfights.com has to say later.
The Leafs’ Phil Kessel takes a penalty for slashing Cooke. Pens PP is 0/2 with 1 shot, let’s see how this one goes. Letang gets tripped, and the puck is cleared, no penalty. PP dies, without a shot I think. Hm…
Kessel hits the crossbar! That guy has almost had a goal like four times.
Fleury takes exception with Versteeg being too far into the crease. Shoves him, and Versteeg slashes Flower retaliating. Both take penalties. 4 on 4 for the last few seconds of this period, and first minute or so of the next one.
Orpik gets into a shoving match with a Leaf when the buzzer sounds.
Period Recap: Shots are 24-10 favoring the Pens, faceoffs are 27-13 Pens. The Powerplays are not going well for either team. Both are 0-3 on the man advantage, and the Leafs have 2 shots to the Pens 1. I feel like we can count the Leafs out now, but that’s the same mistake the Caps made two nights ago. Keep your heads in the game boys.
Third Period starts. The announcers denote that no team has more shorthanded goals now than the Pens. 6 shorties. Nice.
Kunitz tips the puck to Sid to the side of the net, Crosby dances Gustavsson off the post and slips it behind him! BUT IT GOES RIGHT THROUGH THE CREASE! Almost a hat trick for Sid. Would have been neat, three goals from Sid, all feeds from Kunitz. Could still happen.
Letang gets tripped again. No call. Again.
Rupp takes a penalty, but Komisarek drops the gloves with him to send a message since he hit Kessel (one of the Leafs’ stars). Rupp puts him down to one knee and starts hitting him in the head, but Komisarek pick his leg up and puts him on the ice, but continues to punch him once he’s down. I feel like that’s a draw. Komisarek takes the extra roughing penalty, so it evens out.
Rosehill tries to run Crosby. He then takes a penalty for charging Rupp, but a lot happens here. Martin touches up the icing, but Rosehill runs him anyway. Martin (in the first signs of aggression I’ve seen from him) jabs him in the face. Crosby and Godard get involved, and Rosehill drops the gloves with Godard. Godard wins, but he hits him once when he’s down, and splits his forehead open off the ice, ouch. He gets an instigator and unsportsmanlike conduct to go with the fighting major. Crosby gets two penalties for cross-checking and roughing, which doesn’t make that much sense, because the cross-check looked like it was the roughing too. 4 minute PP for the Leafs.
The Leafs score on the PP, guy named Bozak gets a rebound and backhands it over Fleury’s pad. 4-1 Pens. Might be a game again.
Versteeg gets a good shot, but it goes over the net. Fleury grabs a shot from the point and holds it.
Letang goes down to the ice and blocks a pass. Cooke gets a breakaway, but his backhand shot gets shouldered away. Another shorthanded chance gets set up, but the Pens can’t get a shot off. PP dies, and Sid’s out of the box.
The Leafs score again. Fleury misses the glove save when Grabovski uses Engelland as a screen. Like I said, don’t count the Leafs out. 4-2 Pens.
Someone takes a penalty, and the Leafs will get the extra man on for a while, but Martin bowls the puck holder over and Michalek touches it up. This PK is crucial. Looks like Cooke’s in the box for tripping.
Versteeg gets a shot, and Orpik clears the rebound. Kessel shoots it, Fleury saves. Faceoff. Fleury stops a point shot. Faceoff. Sid clears. Martin clears. Michalek clears. Penalty killed. Big kill there. And Fleury makes a save for a faceoff after the penalty ends.
Toronto has 12 shots this period, and Pittsburgh has 1. That needs to change, and if the Pens can shift that momentum back, they should win, but Toronto has some good possession in the Pens end. The Buzzer line tilts the ice back a little, but an icing moves it back to the Pens end.
Puck bounces off the glass and then netting. Faceoff in the Pens end.
Icing against the Pens. Kunitz takes the puck to the other end, but loses it and Fleury comes out to challenge a shooter and stops it.
Icing. Again. Faceoff in the Pens end.
Finally there’s a faceoff that isn’t in the Pens end.
Conner almost sets Letestu up, backchecks after a turnover and gets it back, lays out a Leaf, and gets the puck to Kennedy, who passes to Goligoski, who feeds Letestu on the rush, he out-waits the defensemen who’s down to block the shot, roofs the shot and scores! 5-2 Pens! That two goals for the rookie!
Under a minute left, and the Buzzer line’s back out. Maybe Letestu gets the empty net for the hat trick? The Pens ice it, and Letestu’s still out there, but the Leafs don’t pull their goalie…and the time ticks down to zero.
Final: 5-2 Pens, and the streak goes to 11 games.
I’d usually do the game stats recap here, but in the interest of the Pens standings, I’m going to change to the Flyers’ game. The Flyers blew a 4-1 lead with less than 13 minutes to go in the third and are now in OT against the Sharks, so consider this bonus coverage. If the Sharks win, the Flyers can’t catch us in points when they catch us in games tomorrow. I come in with 2 minutes left in OT, and there are offsetting penalties. 3 on 3 hockey for the rest of the overtime. This is good stuff, really open ice and speed means just about everything. The puck goes back and forth for a while, Sharks fire it from the point, stopped. Flyers counterattack, shot, stopped. 20 seconds left, and Mike Richards gets dropped. 6 seconds left, and the Flyers are on the rush, Richards shoots and it goes in! But the horn sounds at the same time! Will it count? It goes to review, and on the replay it looks like the puck crosses crosses the line too late! The ref comes out, and calls it. It’s too late! No goal! Here comes a shootout! (Go Sharks!)
Flyers shoot first, Danny Briere is up. 43% on his career. Starts in. Deke, deke, deke, backhand! But Nittymaki gets the stop!
Couture is up next, he drags it right, taps it five-hole and scores!
Giroux misses his shot wide!
Clowe comes in, backhand, roofed! Sharks win! And that puts the Pens as the undisputed Eastern Conference Leaders!
Now that’s a pulse raising game!
But back to Penguins news. I’m going to do a recap of the game’s stats and fights and award my choices for the three stars.
After being down 24-10 in shots, the third period went 15-1 in shots favoring the Leafs. Wow. Game ends at 25-24 shots to Pens. The Powerplay is 1/6 for the Leafs, and 0/3 for the Pens. But remember that with the shorthanded goal scored by Dupuis the Toronto PP is a net 0 for the night.
Let’s check in with hockeyfights.com to get results on the fights (Wow there were FOUR of them!) I predict Engelland, Draw(w/ Asham), Rupp, Godard. Also, these percentages will shift as more people rate, and if the two %s don’t add up, it’s cause some voted ‘Draw’.
Engelland(80%) vs Orr(8%) [75 Votes] – http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/99675
Asham(44.4%) vs Komisarek(29.6%) [54 Votes] – http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/99676
Rupp(80.0%) vs Komisarek(12.0%) [25 Votes] – http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/99678
Godard(71.1%) vs Rosehill(13.2%) [38 Votes] – http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/99679
My three star predictions are…
3. Chris Kunitz. No goals, but three great assists, two to Crosby and one for Dupuis’s shortie.
2. Sidney Crosby. Two goals, including the Game Winner to extend his streak to 17 games.
1. Mark Letestu. Two goals, and he gets the edge over Sid since the Leafs scored on the one of three PPs where Crosby was in the box.
The Pens have these all flipped. Letestu #3, Crosby #2, and Kunitz #1. I can see it.
And that’s all she wrote folks, Pens go to 11 straight and take the East, and probably the league (unless the Wings win three in a row).