You are reading live from the press box at Mellon Arena. We ventured to the arena by way of PPG Place and saw this:
(That photo didn't turn out as well as we hoped.)
-We're pretty ignorant to what exactly PPG does these days as far as an industry, but we have to give them credit for providing the skating rink in the winter and the water fountain in the summer. We can't imagine either makes money for the company but they do give something back to the community. Both the fountain and rink have become icons of downtown Pittsburgh.
-The ice (at Mellon Arena):
-While walking into the press box, we walked by Paul Steigerwald doing a Bob Errey impression. "Joy" is a world completely insufficient for that experience.
-Arguably the worst Christmas song is on as fans walk into the arena; Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time:"
-We just hate that electronic "squirt" sound if that make sense.
-Steely Dan's "Reeling in the Years" is next:
-Matt Cooke told Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times he had no intention of injuring Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier last season. Lecavalier suffered a shoulder injury in April which required surgery after a check by Cooke, then a member of the Capitals. Tonight is the first time the two meet on the ice since the injury.
-Also included in that link is a note indicating Lightning forward Ryan Malone is considering getting a tattoo of Pittsburgh's skyline on his right forearm.
-A few jerseys we've spotted:
(At the risk of being unobjective, we're posting this because he has five goals in his last two home games in which we've posted pictures of his jersey.)
(This gentleman admitted to spending more than our monthly car payment for this beauty.)
-Ryan Malone still has some fans here:
-As does Mark Recchi:
-Rick Tocchet is getting some love too:
-Miroslav Satan Sabres:
(This guy was very suspicious of us.)
-We nearly passed out when we saw this:
-Dear Randy Gilhen!?! The great Mike Zigomanis?!? That's a real fan there.
(We noticed Philippe Boucher and Tampa Bay's Jeff Halpern having a conversation near the red line. They were teammates for parts of two seasons in Dallas.)
-Mike Smith and Marc-Andre Fleury will start tonight in net.
-The Penguins' scratches are the great Mike Zigomanis and Kris Letang.
-Tampa Bay will scratch Ryan Craig and Olaf Kolzig.
-It was nice to see most fans cheer when Ryan Malone was announced as a starter, there was some booing, but it was drowned out mostly by the cheering.
-Ryan Whitney received a loud ovation when his name was announced as an addition to the roster.
19:35: Malone misses on a check on his former linemate, Evgeni Malkin.
19:10: Malkin makes Andrej Meszaros and Malone miss on checks in the corner.
19:05: Malkin pushes a shot through the crease.
18:49: Malkin and Malone mix it up a bit and a scrum develops. Malone is sent off for slashing while Malkin gets called for roughing. So much for being sentimental. Four-on-four.
16:59: Smith drops the clamp on a bullet by Satan from the right wing.
16:49: The penalties to Malkin and Malone expire.
16:26: Malone touches the puck and is booed. Way to be classy people.
16:19: Dupuis is nabbed for holding the stick. Maxime Talbot, Mark Eaton, Matt Cooke and Boucher are on for the penalty kill.
15:46: Cooke blocks a slapper by Paul Ranger at the right wing.
15:28: Fleury gloves a backhander by Lecavalier.
15:18: Fleury fights off a one-timer by Recchi from the left point.
14:30: A wrister by Fleury is kicked out.
14:19: Dupuis' penalty is killed.
13:23: Malkin tries to weave through the defense but loses his footing. Fans boo, but it appeared he just fell on his own to us.
12:19: Whitney takes a pass and streaks down the right wing. He plays it into the slot where it bounces around. Jeff Taffe is there but can't gets a stick on the puck. Nice try by Whitney there. He was flying down the wing on that play.
10:38: A shot from the right point by Marek Malik is blocked.
10:28: Fleury keeps the puck out of the cage despite a mad scramble by Matt Pettinger, Adam Hall and Paul Szczechura (What a name.) A scrum ensues.
10:25: Fleury eats up a shot right off the following faceoff.
9:43: Malkin tries to make a move by Ranger along the boards. Ranger flips him over with a wonderful hip check.
8:43: After Fleury loses the puck behind his net, Steven Stamkos tries to jam it in on a quick wraparound. Rob Scuderi is Johnny-on-the-spot and keeps it out. Scuderi is called for tripping. Jordan Staal, Dupuis, Eaton and Boucher are on for the kill.
8:30: Fleury fights off a clean wrister by Malone in the slot.
7:58: Boucher kneels down to block a shot in the slot.
6:43: Scuderi's penalty is killed.
6:37: Meszaros rips a wrister high of the cage.
5:59: Malkin batters Steve Eminger to the ice with a big shoulder check. Eminger trips up Malkin as he falls. That's two minutes. Malkin, Whitney, Sidney Crosby, Sykora and Ruslan Fedotenko are on for the power play.
5:49: Malkin blasts a slapper from the right point. Ruslan Fedotenko is in front with a screen. It hits somone and hops up near the crease. Crosby is there but can't locate the puck.
5:23: Sykora rips a wrister from the right faceoff circle. Smith says no.
4:39: Whitney dishes a cross ice pass for Satan who blasts a one timer. Smith eats it up. Taffe, Whitney, Boucher, Cooke and Sykora are on for the rest of the power play.
3:37: Play is halted as Lecavalier and Cooke get tangled up in the neutral zone. Apparently Lecavalier didn't forget how he was injured last season. He's sent off for roughing. He's got to be more disciplined than that. Especially as a captain. Sykora, Whitney, Malkin, Crosby and Staal are on for the power play.
2:39: Malkin controls the puck at the top of the slot, fakes a shot and fires a wrister which Malone blocks and clears out of the zone.
2:21: Crosby snaps a quick pass to Sykora in the slot. Sykora then directs the puck just wide of the cage.
1:52: Malkin blasts a slapper from the right point wide of the cage.
1:37: The Lightning kill off Lecavalier's penalty.
1:26: After a scramble in front of the Penguins' cage, Satan is nabbed for interference. He hauled someone down near the net. That's two minutes. There's been more a few penalties here so far. Coooke, Staal, Scuderi and Orpik are on for the power play.
0:44: Orpik and Malone were battling pretty hard in front of the Penguins' cage.
0:03: Recchi slides a puck in front of the Penguins' blue line to Lecavalier who hammers a one-timer from the right point. Fleury manages to keep it out despite a cluster of bodies in front of the cage. A teammate clears the loose puck.
0:00: End of period. Lightning 0, Penguins 0.
-We thought that was a pretty good period for both teams. Lots of aggressive play with some physcial stuff too. No one really seemed to make any mistakes other than on the penalties. The goaltending was strong for each team too.
-So far so good for Whitney. He seemed like he was up to game speed. His 6:48 of ice time was the second highest total that period was second only to Boucher among the Penguins' defensemen.
-The Lightning has a 12-8 lead in shots.
-Malkin leads the game with three shots.
-Lecavalier, Prospal and Szczechura lead Tampa Bay with two each.
-Ranger leads the game with 8:50 of ice time.
-Staal leads the Penguins with 8:27.
-Tampa Bay dominated in faceoffs, 12-4.
-Lecavalier is 6-for-7 (86 percent).
-Crosby is the only Penguin with any wins having gone 4-for-8 (50 percent).
-Cooke leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Satan's penalty will have 33 seconds left at the start of the period.
20:00: Dupuis, Staal, Orpik and Scuderi are on to kill the rest of Satan's penalty.
19:34: Lecavalier hammers a slapper from the right wing that's off the mark.
19:26: Satan's penalty expires.
18:14: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
17:03: Eaton dodges a hit from Lightning yeti Evgeny Artyukhin who runs about 6-foot-5, 254 pounds.
15:25: Jamie Heward fires a wrister from right point which hits a body in front and deflects wide of the cage
14:55: Syokra gets behind the defense and is off on a bit of a breakaway. He fakes a wrister and jams up Smith a bit. Sykora then moves to the backhand and has Smith beat. Unfortunately for the Penguins he, flicks it right through the crease and misses the net. He needs to bury that.
14:45: Szczechura gets by Goligoski and swoops behind the Penguins' net. He dishes to Pettinger who bangs home a one-timer from in tight for a goal. Nice play by Szczechura but we didn't want to spell that name more than once tonight. Szczechura and Recchi get assists. Fire Ray Shero. Lightning 1-0.
13:34: Eminger drops Talbot with a nice check along the boards.
12:33: Public address announcer John Barbero informs the fans Recchi also got an assist on Pettinger's goal. That news is greeted with boos. Malone is called for holding Pascal Dupuis' stick. That's two minutes. Whitney, Malkin, Crosby, Satan and Staal are on for the power play.
12:03: A slapper by Ranger is blocked by Malkin.
11:16: A slapper by Whitney is blocked by Lecavalier.
10:53: Smith fights off a shot by Malkin.
10:33: Malone's penalty is killed. The Penguins are now 0-for-3 on the power play.
10:07: A slapper by Malik from the left wing is eaten up by Fleury. Attendance is announced as 17,064.
9:29: Alert EN commenter "truby2000" informs us Recchi's assist was the 1,400th point of his career. Wow. Recchi is 18th all-time on the league's career scoring list. Dale Hawerchuk is 17th with 1,409 points. Regardless if he's on the other team, the Penguins would show a lot of class if they acknowledged the accomplishment.
9:14: Pettinger blasts a one-timer from the slot. Fleury knocks it down and covers it up.
8:59: Malkin approaches the net with a wide open shot. He elects to leave a drop pass for Crosby who fires it wide of the cage. Malkin needs to take that shot.
7:39: Malkin dishes a backhanded pass to Sykora who rips a wrister that clinks off the outside of the post.
4:47: A shot by Prospal is blocked by Boucher's stick and deflects out of play. During a stoppage, Brooks Orpik's "The Shift" is played as part of a montage on the video board:
4:33: Things get a little too physical during a scramble near the Penguins' net. Recchi is called for hooking. Boucher is nabbed for holding the stick. Four-on-four.
4:02: Staal takes a pass from Fedotenko in the slot and whacks a wrister on net. Smith fights it off.
3:31: Fires a wrister which Fleury fights off. He gives up a rebound but his defenders are able to play it away before any damage can be done.
2:44: Malone tries to play the puck in and around Scuderi (if that makes sense). Scuderi holds his ground for the most part but Malone is still able to push a shot just wide of the cage. Nice effort by Malone.
2:07: Pettinger fires a slapper from the left wing. Fleury gloves it. Pettinger has been pretty active for Tampa Bay tonight.
0:02: Crosby throws a shoulder into Meszaros in the corner.
0:00: End of period. Lightning 1, Penguins 0.
-While Tampa Bay does have a 22-12 lead in shots right now we wouldn't exactly say they dominated play. Things were still pretty even for the most part. Despite the score, there was a lot of up and down play.
-The power plays for each team have looked fine. They're getting some shots towards the net. They just can't beat Smith or Fleury who are both still playing strong.
-Matt Pettinger has been the best player tonight so far in our opinion. He just seems to be involved on a lot of plays.
-Prospal and Pettinger lead the game with four shots each.
-Malkin and Satan lead the Penguins with three each.
-The Lightning has a 19-13 advantage in faceoffs.
-Jussi Jokinen and Halpern are each 5-for-7 for Tampa Bay (71 percent).
-Crosby is 6-for-12 (50 percent).
-Ranger leads the game with 17:00 of ice time.
-Malkin leads the Penguins with 15:42.
-Whitney is up to 14:43.
-Cooke still leads the game with three blocked shots.
-The best (and most appropiate) message sent to the video board:
"Shoot the puck"
-EN Reader Geoff Marton spotted a tremendous jersey; Chris Tamer:
-We can't get a picture of it, but the video board facing the south end of the arena is all screwed up. There's this big stripe of pink and green pixles not working correctly.
18:26: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
18:11: Dupuis gets away with interference as he hauls down Eminger while the two race for a puck behind the Lightning's net.
17:08: Lecavalier comes up the right wing, uses Boucher as a screen and whips a wrister on net. Fleury is able to snare it.
16:43: Hall appears to get clipped with a high stick near the Penguins' net. No call. He goes immediately to his team's bench. The Penguins have nothing to complain about with the officiating this period so far.
15:16: Artyukhin tries to dump the puck and chase it into the corner. Scuderi gets low on him along the boards and upends him with a hip check. That's a big tree to be chopping down.
14:18: Malkin comes down the right wing and zips a pass into the slot for Fedotenko. Fedotenko tries to direct it towards the net immediately but doesn't hit it quite right and the puck carries into the boards.
12:59: Jokinen comes up ice, uses Eaton as a screen and fires a heavy wrister. Fleury kicks it out with his right leg.
11:40: Play is halted for a hand pass by Tampa Bay. The Penguins have yet to record a shot on net this period. Wow. Apparently they have gone back and given Talbot a double minor for high sticking Hall who was bleeding. Scuderi, Orpik, Staal, Dupuis are on for the penalty kill.
11:18: Lecavalier fires a wrister from the right point that misses the net, goes around the boards and clears the zone. Lecavalier bangs his stick on the ice in frustration.
11:05: Orpik absoutley dumps Malone in the corner. Nice hit.
10:23: After a bit of a scrum behind the Lightning net, Smith actually hooks Malkin's hand. No call. Fans boo.
9:40: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
9:32: Smith controls the puck and gets booed. Ha!
9:05: Malkin gets behind the defense and approaches the net on a breakaway. He dekes to the backhand and tries to lift a shot. Smith stones him with his left arm. He hasn't been tested a great deal, but Smith has been fantastic tonight.
8:46: Recchi sends a cross ice pass to Jokinen on the left wing. Jokinen then passes it to Szczechura in the slot. Szczechura then tips it by Fleury. That was some nifty passing. We had spelling "Szchesruaasuafe." The way Smith's playing, that might seal the deal for the Lightning tonight. Recchi and Jokinen get assists. Fire Ray Shero. Lightning 2-0.
7:36: Hall hits Goligoski in the corner and knocks off his helmet. Goligoski's bald spot is visible to all.
7:02: Staal and Malone collide at center ice.
6:46: Smith kicks out a wrister by Sykora from the left wing.
6:21: Recchi motors down the left wing and fires a low wrister which Fleury eats up. That wrister had a little bit more zip on it 15 years ago.
6:03: Smith plays a puck behind the net and gets booed. He's pretty much getting the Jaromir Jagr treatment anytime he touches the puck now.
5:23: Fleury covers a loose puck in the slot.
5:15: Play is halted as Sykora is laying on the ice in the Penguins' zone. Replays show him getting hit into the boards by Pettinger. It's a clean it. Sykora gets and skate to the bench under his own power.
4:45: Halpern steals a puck and works it up ice. He fires a wrister which gets deflected out of play.
4:29: Malkin goes behind the Lightning net with the puck and is forced off it on a nice play by Meszsaros.
3:39: Satan whacks a puck out of play from the neutral zone.
3:09: Malkin makes a move by Ranger and sneaks in on net. He shoots the puck but it sails out of play. Sykora is back on the ice.
2:47: Malkin leaves a drop pass for Sykora who hammers a slapper. His shot is wide of the net however.
2:10: The Lightning touch up the puck for an icing call. At what point does Michel Therrien pull Fleury for an extra attacker?
1:31: Fleury is pulled.
1:24: As the Lighting collect a puck, you can year someone yelling "No goalie! No goalie!"
1:17: Tampa Bay ices the puck.
0:55: Malkin collects a puck along the boards and rips a wrister high. Smith traps it agains this chest and freezes play. Therrien calls a time out to organize a night everyone can come over to watch "Road House." We think.
0:33: Smith collects the puck near his net and whips it down ice. It appeared he was thinking about going for the goal.
0:17: St. Louis clinks a shot off the outside of the net.
0:08: Boucher gets down to block a shot.
0:01: Play ends as the Penguins control the puck near the net and fail to even get a shot off. How typical of the rest of their game tonight.
0:00: End of game. Frank Sinatra's "That's Life" plays everyone off into the streets. Lightning 2, Penguins 0.
-Well that was certainly a frustrating game to watch from the Penguins' standpoint. The effort was there. They certainly didn't dog it, but they were hardly aggressive. They only managed to get 15 shots on net and as the game wore on, they got fewer and fewer shots on net. They had eight in the first, four in the second and only three in the third.
-Given the offensive fire power on this squad, we can't help but shake our heads at such as a meager offensive attack. There's no excuse for a team with two of the best players in the world to only get 15 shots on net.
-While the Penguins hardly peppered him with a lot of rubber, Mike Smith was huge tonight. He didn't see a lot of pucks tonight, but he did see more than a few quality scoring opportunities and turned them away. His save on Malkin's breakaway might've been the biggest play during the game.
-Smith has been one of the few bright spots for Tampa Bay this season. While his record of 6-12-8 stinks, his goals against average (2.40) and save percentage (.925) totals are worth of a Vezina Trophy winner.
-Smith recorded the first shutout of the Penguins this season and was the first goaltender to keep the Penguins out of the net since Detroit's Chris Osgood claimed a 3-0 win in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final, May 26.
-The last regular season shutout of the Penguins was a 2-0 win by Martin Biron and the Flyers in the last game of last season, April 6. The Penguins didn't exactly give a full effort in that game.
-The last time the Penguins were shutout at Mellon Arena ironically enough was by the Lightning. Johan Holmqvist made 27 saves while Andre Roy had a goal and two assists in a 3-0 win, Jan. 18. That was also the same game Sidney Crosby suffered his high ankle sprain.
-Recchi and Malone looked pretty good in their returns to Pittsburgh. Recchi obviously figured in on both Tampa Bay goals and he just still looked very much "with it." (If that makes sense). Malone didn't record a point, but he was doing exactly what he did here with the Penguins; going to the front of the net, getting physcial, creating opprotunities and playing some on the penalty kill.
-Fire Ray Shero.
-Recchi was booed when he was announced as a third star. That was disappointing.
-Recchi became the sixth player with connections to the Penguins to reach the 1,400 point mark. He joined Ron Francis (1,798), Mario Lemieux (1,723), Jaromir Jagr (1,599), Paul Coffey (1,531) and Bryan Trottier (1,425).
-Colorado's Joe Sakic (1,641) is the only other active player with more than 1,400 career points.
-Whitney was OK tonight. He didn't stand out by any means but he didn't look awful at any time evident to us. He finished with 23:16 of ice time, had no shots and was a an even plus/minus. Only Crosby (24:28) and Malkin (23:14) had more ice time.
-Tampa Bay ended up with a 29-15 advantage in shots.
-Lecavalier and Malkin each led the game with five shots.
-The Lightning enjoyed a 28-20 lead in faceoffs.
-Jokinen was 9-for-11 (82 percent).
-Taffe was the only Penguin with a winning night in the faceoff circle going 3-for-5 (60 percent).
-Crosby was 9-for-20 (45 percent).
-Ranger led the game with with 26:41 of ice time.
-Boucher led the game with five blocked shots.
-Cooke was second with four.