-Right off the bat, we are reminded that Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen used to be Penguins. Whooo-boy this is going to be a long game.
-Almost immediately after that reminder, we are issued another such reminder that Colby Armstrong, in fact, used to be a Penguin.
-Officially, we set an over/under on "Armstrong was a Penguin" at 16 1/2.
-"Christensen used to be a Penguin" was a 9 1/2.
-"Johan Hedberg used to be a Penguin" at 4.
-"Chris Thorburn used to be a Penguin" at 3 1/2.
-"Randy Cunneyworth used to be a Penguin" at 1.
-"Pascal Dupuis used to be a Thrasher" at 3.
-We found this picture of Armstrong in a Penguins uniform. It doesn't looked like it was Photoshopped or anything so we guess it's true:
(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)
-Dany Sabourin and Ondrej Pavelec are your starting goaltenders.
-We are reminded that Pavelec used to play for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, the same junior team that produced Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Mark Eaton and Fleury are the Penguins' scratches.
-Boris Valabik and Kari Lehtonen are scratched for Atlanta.
-Armstrong and Christensen are former Penguins.
-Dan Potash talks to Philippe Boucher. Is it us or does Boucher look like a darker more sinister version of former Penguins coach Ed Olczyk?
19:45: We could have an upset on our hands early here. "Ondrej Pavelec used to be a Cape Breton Screaming Eagle" pops up again.
19:38: Thorburn used to be a Penguin.
19:34: Nathan Oystrick blasts a slapper from the right point that goes wide of the net.
19:03: Jordan Staal steals a puck off Oystrick in the corner and snaps a quick wrister low. Pavelec kicks it out.
18:08: Ruslan Fedotenko pumps a slapper from the left wing wide of the net.
17:29: Miroslav Satan tosses a puck into the crease and Pavelec kicks it out.
17:22: Sidney Crosby drops a pass for Boucher at the left point. He whips a wrister towards the net that gets kicked out.
17:01: Boucher is called for hooking.
16:20: Christensen uncorks a big wrister fron the right faceoff circle. Sabourin eats it up. Hedberg was a Penguin.
16:02: Ilya Kovalchuk blasts a one-timer that hits teammate Bryan Little in front of the net. He's stunned from the big shot and skates to his bench.
15:45: Kovalchuk fires another slapper from the left point. Sabourin fights it off.
15:15: Slava Kozlov strikes. Kovalchuk wrists a shot into a cluster of bodies in front of the net. It hits something and bounces to the right of the cage where Kozlov cleans up the garbage and puts it in behind an out of place Sabourin. Kovalchuk and Mathieu Schneider get assists. On top of that, Hal Gill is sent to the box for hooking. The "Woo-Hoo!" song is played. A Luche Libre wrestler celebrates (below). Thrashers 1-0.
14:45: There appear to be fewer people at this game than in the rotundas at Heinz Field last night. What a joke of a hockey market. It's a shame such a brilliant player like Ilya Kovalchuk is wasted on this market. Could you imagine him in a place such as Minnesota or Boston?
13:30: Schneider fires a slapper from the left point that hits a stick then deflects into Rob Scuderi's chest.
13:15: Gill's penalty expires.
13:06: Todd White fights off Alex Goligoski for possession of the puck, spins and fires a wrister from in tight. Sabourin holds his ground.
12:57: Coming back from commercial, Armstrong used to be a Penguin.
12:25: Armstrong steals a puck off Maxime Talbot in the neutral zone, moves into the Penguins' zone and fires a wrister that is blocked by a defender.
11:18: Kris Letang knocks Jim Slater off his skates with what seemed like a trip. No call.
9:52: Armstrong and Christensen used to be Penguins.
9:03: Dupuis works the puck down the left wing and tosses it into the crease where Satan is able to bang it in with a backhander by Pavelec. Dupuis used to be a Thrasher and he gets an assist. Penguins 1, Thrashers 1.
8:42: Crosby pushes a pass into the slot where Dupuis shoots the puck wide of the cage.
8:18: Coming back from commercial, Armstrong used to be a Penguin.
8:03: Hedberg used to be a Penguin.
6:33: Tyler Kennedy works the puck down the left wing and snaps a wrister on net. Pavelec eats it up.
6:06: Kovalchuk dishes a pass to Toby Enstrom at the left point. Enstrom fires a one-timer that Sabourin traps against his chest. Bob Errey compares Kris Letang to a hovercraft.
5:43: Hedberg used to be Penguin and FSN Pittsburgh backs that claim with a highlight package that includes a clip of Marc Bergevin getting used like a pylong by New Jersey's Patrik Elias:
(In all fairness, Andrew Ference was abused on that clip as well.)
4:58: Ron Hainsey tries to fire the puck into the offensive zone with a slapper. Matt Cooke blocks it with his foot and is stunned for a bit.
4:00: FSN Pittsburgh manages to accomplish what Versus couldn't Tuesday and shows a clip Jordan Staal's fight against Minnesota's Erik Reitz. But at least we know when "Sports Soup" is on.
3:32: Crosby works the puck from behind the net and toses a low shot on net that Pavelec keeps out despite some traffic.
2:45: Kennedy works the puck into the Atlanta zone, leaves a drop pass for Letang at the right point. Letang drives the puck towards the net. Staal is in the slot and re-directs it just wide. Nice effort there.
1:43: Armstrong clips Crosby behind the Penguins' net.
1:10: Armstrong and Christensen used to be a Penguins.
0:22: Brooks Orpik blocks a shot by Christensen.
0:11: Petr Sykora picks up a loose puck in the slot, fights off a check and snaps a wrister on net. Pavelec eats it up.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Thrashers 1, Armstrong 7, Christensen 4, Hedberg 3, Pavelec 2, Dupuis 1, Thorburn 1.
-Going to a commercial, Dupuis used to be a Thrasher.
-Coming back from commercial, Potash reminds us Dupuis used to be a Thrasher.
-After some prompting from Potash, Dupuis reminds us he used to be a Thrasher.
-The Penguins outshot Atlanta, 8-5.
-Kovalchuk, Kennedy and Satan lead the game with two shots.
-Atlanta controlled the faceoffs, 15-8.
-The great Mike Zigomanis and White were each 4-for-5.
-Enstrom leads the game with 8:25 of ice time.
-Scuderi is tops on the Penguins with 7:08.
-Garnet Exelby leads the game with two blocked shots.
"The Murphy Dump" complete with quotation marks is explained by Errey:
-Armstrong used to be a Penguin.
-Errey references the Brass Bonanza:
-Paul Steigerwald mentions that the a Georgia Tech-Miami football game is also going in Atlanta during this hockey game. In addition to that, the Steelers were playing last night. We know most hockey arenas are actually multi-purpose arenas and that fitting in every event is somewhat difficult given the multiple uses each facility has, but couldn't the NHL have had the sense to try and avoid scheduling this game on a night when each city involved was also hosting a nationally televised event? The league's ratings are in the mud as they are, why make it tougher? And why schedule a struggling team like the Thrashers against Georgia Tech football?
-Pardon the rant but prior to the Stanley Cup final, Gary Bettman gave his "state of the union" address on the health of the NHL. Game 1 of the Cup final was scheduled the same night of an Eastern Conference NBA playoff game between the Pistons and Celtics. Essentially, Detroit fans were forced to choose between the two. The NHL struggles for each and every rating point it can get but it still decided to go head-to-head against the NBA in a town where a significant portion of its ratings for the final would've come from. When pressed for an explanation from a Detroit reporter, Bettman pretty much threw up his hands and essentially said, "I don't control that, it's the network's choice." The network Bettman was referring to was Versus.
-So basically, if we're to believe Bettman, this joke of a cable access channel had more power over when the NHL played its championship series than the supreme authority in the NHL. Versus couldn't be bothered to switch around a zebra-hunting show to accomodate the NHL and maximize ratings.
-We're going to go for a walk and get some fresh air.... (huff... huff...)
19:04: Letang tosses a wrister on net that is blocked in front.
18:03: Kovalchuk come up ice on a two-on-one against Goligoski. Kovalchuk doesn't exactly make a great pass and Goligoski deflects it away.
17:44: Armstrong dishes a puck to Marty Reasoner in the slot. Sabourin kicks it out.
17:25: The ever dangerous Rob Scuderi fires a one-timer from the right point. Pavelec easily kicks it out.
17:04: Schneider clips Talbot in the face with his stick. Two minutes. Schneider almost seems as if he's reading FSN Pittsburgh's "Fox Box:"
16:20: Boucher blasts a one-timer from the left point that misses the mark.
15:11: Satan corrals the puck on the left wing and zips a wrister on net. Pavelec fights it off.
15:04: Schneider's penalty expires without much of a threat from the penguins.
14:32: Crosby works his way by Schneider and drives to the net. Pavelec pokes the puck away.
14:07: Cooke hammers Kozlov with a fantastic check in the neutral zone.
13:15: Oystrick is called for interference against Cooke.
12:57: Goligoski slide a pass to Boucher at the left point. His one-timer is off the mark.
12:50: Crosby collects the rebound, dishes it to Goligoski who gives it back to Crosby. Crosby then zips a cross ice pass to Boucher who sneaks in and fires a wrister on net. Pavelec makes a save but gives up a rebound. Sykora is there but can't quite cleanly shoot it.
12:33: Reasoner is called for hooking. The Penguins will have a two-man advantage for 1:19: The Penguins have to score here.
12:20: The great Mike Zigomanis dishes a pass to Sykora in the slot. Sykora snaps off a quick wrister that Pavelech kicks out.
11:54: Evgeni Malkin zips a wrister from the right point that clinks off the far post.
11:22: Sykora sneaks in and fires a wrister that Pavelec fights off.
11:14: Oystrick's penalty expires. The Penguins will still have a power play for 41 seconds.
11:11: Malkin sneaks in from the point and blasts a slapper that misses the mark.
10:33: Eric Perrin clears the puck an essentially kills the penalty. That was inexcusable for the Penguins, or any team, to not get at least a goal there.
10:28: Boucher is called for tripping. Fire Ray Shero. Errey loses his mind about about Pavelec getting a drink of water during the Penguins power play. He must have something about hockey players drinking water:
10:22: Schneider bombs a slapper from the high slot. Sabourin eats it up.
9:37: Schneider unleashes another blast from the point. Sabourin kicks it out despite traffic.
9:05: Kovalchuk dishes a puck across the slot to Christensen. Christensen's inner-Michel Ouellet comes out and he rips a wrister that totally misses the cage.
8:53: Christensen used to play for the Penguins.
8:26: Boucher's penalty expires.
7:37: Kennedy pressures Hainsey for a puck behind the net. He actually tripped him and stole the puck. Kennedy then dishes the puck to Crosby streaking down the slot. As he slips to his butt, Crosby is able to slide a shot by Pavelec on the stick side high. Errey pulls out a "little tiger" reference for Kennedy. The Penguins got away with one there. Kennedy should've went to the box. Kennedy gets an assist. Penguins 2-1.
6:31: Perrin tosses a puck on net from the left point. Sabourin scoops it up and freezes play. During a commercial break, we get a Day Automotive commercial. Is it wrong for us to publicly declare a crush on Debbie Flaherty?
-We'll find out if we get a nasty e-mail from our editors today.
6:12: The Thrashers get the goal back almost immediately. Jim Slater works the puck from behind the net. He fights off a check from Scuderi, goes to the left of the cage, spins and whips a shot that beats Sabourin five hole. Not a great goal for Sabourin to give up. Perrin and Enstrom get assists. Penguins 2, Thrashers 2.
4:55: Enstrom breaks Jason Williams out on a break away. Williams inexplicably decides to leave a drop pass for Lord-knows-who instead of shooting. The Penguins immediately take it back. What a terrible play by Williams.
4:30: Goligoski throws a wrister on net from the left point. Pavelec fights it off.
3:16: Goligoski weaves into the offensive zone and whips a wrister that is deflected out of play. Coming back from commercial, Randy Cunneyworth used to be a Penguin.
3:08: Gill fires a slapper from the left point that appears to hit the a group of bodies in front.
2:46: Pavelec used to be a Cape Breton Screaming Eagle. A graphic is included to back this claim:
0:43: Boucher fires a slapper from the right point. Pavelec kicks it out with his left foot.
0:09: The ever dangerous Rob Scuderi blasts a slapper from the right point. Pavelec jumps out and knocks it away.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Thrashers 2, Armstrong 8, Christensen 5, Hedberg 3, Dupuis 3, Pavelec 3, Cunneyworth 1, Thorburn 1.
-The Penguins' power play hurt them that period. They probably should have at least three goals after having a two-man advantage.
-The Penguins have a commanding 24-11 advantage in shots.
-Sykora leads the game with six shots.
-Kovalchuk leads Atlanta with two.
-Atlanta has a 20-15 edge in faceoffs.
-The great Mike Zigomanis is 7-for-9.
-Crosby leads the game with 16:23 of ice time.
-Enstrom leads Atlanta with 15:44.
-Exleby and Goligoski each lead the game with two blocked shots.
-Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter offers his thoughts on the game:
19:44: Letang hammers White with a tremendous check into the boards. Play is halted to help White who is really woozy. Letang absolutely hammered him. As Steigerwald points out, Letang could've been called for interference on that. A few Thrashers come after Letang but nothing comes of it.
19:22: Niclas Havelid runs Dupuis into the cage and dislodges it. We guess interference penalties don't exist this period.
18:49: A shot by Boucher at the right point. The puck riccochets up ice where Kovalchuk races up ice with it. He splits the defense and shoots five hole. Sabourin comes up with a big save.
17:01: As Orpik tags Eric Boulton with a solid hit along the boards, Errey makes an astute observation by noting that Michel Therrien put Letang back on the ice along with goon Eric Godard in an attempt to prevent any retribution against Letang for the hit on White.
16:48: Fedotenko fires a wrister on net from the left wing. Pavelec gloves it.
16:20: Kennedy slides a pass to Staal in the right faceoff circle. Staal turns and pushes a shot just wide of the cage.
15:49: Havelid blasts a slapper from the point. Sabourin is somehow able to keep it out despite being a bit out of place.
15:11: Satan gets a pass on the right wing and instead of taking the open shot, he makes one-too-many passes and the Penguins miss a big opportunity.
14:10: Reasoner pumps a shot on net from the left wing. Sabourin eats it up.
13:38: Goligoski clips Armstrong with a hip check in the neutral zone. Armstrong managed to pull out at the last moment and avoid the bulk of the contact.
13:28: Armstrong and Godard exchange their opinions on Ace of Base's "Happy Nation." We think.
13:06: A slapper by Orpik is blocked by Slater.
12:02: Perrin snaps a wrister on net that Sabourin eats up.
11:02: Kovalchuk works the puck up the left wing and drops a pass to a trailing Williams. Williams' wrister "clacks" off the post.
10:48: Williams feeds Thorburn in the slot. Thorburn directs a backhander on net that Sabourin appears to get a piece of.
10:12: Armstrong dishes the puck from behind the net to Thorburn in the slot. Thorburn pushes a low shot that Sabourin covers. Dupuis is sent off for hooking. He also used to be a Thrasher.
9:29: Little tries to feed a pass into the slot but Scuderi is able to lean down and break it up.
8:51: Schneider blasts a one-timer from the point. Sabourin somehow makes a save despite a screen.
8:12: Dupuis' penalty expires.
7:54: Kennedy pumps a slapper from the right wing. Pavelec fights it off.
7:16: Crosby works up the right wing and whips a backhander on net that Pavelec eats up. Additionally, Marian Hossa used to be a Penguin. Angelo Esposito used to be a Penguins prospect. And Daultan Leveille was picked by the Thrashers with the pick the Penguins gave up in the Hossa deal. Whew....
6:56: Errey calls out whoever is keeping track of hits in this game. Up until this point, the hits are 9-4 in favor of the Thrashers. Hits are one of those stats we usually don't pay attention to. Every scorekeeper has a different standard for keeping track of it.
6:20: Schneider uncorks a slapper from that point that hits Slater in front of the cage. He's stunned by it.
5:03: Christensen fights through a check and zips in on net. He fires a wrister low on the five hole but Sabourin closes the gates.
4:49: Christensen dishes a feed to Perrin in the slot. Perrin has a sure goal seemingly but Sabourin somehow prevents his shot from going in. Kozlov tries to follow up on a rebound but Sabourin covers the rebound. Big save there.
4:42: Williams centers a puck into the slot from the side of the cage. Sabourin kicks it out.
4:12: A blast by Kovalchuk is off the mark.
3:59: Exelby hammers Satan in the corner.
3:44: Satan hits Exelby back along the boards and forces a turnover. Dupuis grabs it, moves in on net and shoots. Hainsey deflects the puck away. Play is halted as Thorburn is called for hauling down Crosby on the way to the net. Thorburn used to be a Penguin.
3:29: Goligoski is pressured by Reasoner and loses the puck. Reasoner takes it off him, pushes it up ice an is off on a break away. He approaches the net and tries to sneak it in on the five hole. Sabourin is able to keep it out and keep the game tied. Another big save by him. How many breakaway and odd-man rushes can the Penguins allow on the power play?
2:56: Havelid blocks a wrister by Malkin with his shin.
2:40: Crosby takes a cross-ice pass from Malkin in the left faceoff circle. Crosby winds up as if he's going to take a slapper but fires the puck into the slot and re-directs it off the shaft of Sykora's stick and into the net. What a great goal. Crosby's pass actually broke Sykora's stick. Crosby and Malkin get assists. Penguins 3-2.
1:56: Perrin tries to hustle by Gill for a loose puck in the Penguins' zone. He ends up tripping up Gill. No call.
1:02: In attempt to kill the clock, Crosby goals all "And 1" and controls the puck for 18 seconds in the Atlanta zone. It's might not sound impressive, but it sure is an amazing sight.
0:44: Pavelec is called for an extra attacker.
0:35: Dupuis pushes the puck up ice to kill some clock. And he used to be a Thrasher.
0:23: Anderson calls a time out to organize a night everyone could come over to "Over The Top." We think.
0:05: Gill chips the puck down ice to kill time. The Thrashers touch up for icing.
0:02: Scuderi clears the puck off the faceoff and ends the game.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 3, Thrashers 2, Armstrong 8, Christensen 5, Dupuis 5, Hedberg 3, Pavelec 3, Thorburn 2, Cunneyworth 1.
-The Penguins hardly played their best game but still found a way to take advantage of any mistakes and come out with a win. That said, the Thrashers didn't exactly pose the biggest challenge.
-Sabourin and Pavelec each played strong games.
We really like what we saw out of Boucher. He seemed very comfortable again with his new teammates and just seemed like he belonged if that makes sense.
-We would say Boucher contributed more to the Penguins last night than Darryl Sydor did at any point this season.
-Kovalchuk's situation with the Thrashers almost reminds us of Mario Lemieux's with the Penguins in the 1980s. Each is/was a sparkling individual talent stuck on a poor frachise with seemingly little direction. Lemieux had Warren Young as a linemate while Kovalchuk has Bryan Little. Eventually things turned abour for Lemieux in Pittsburgh. Hopefully do as well in Atlanta for Kovalchuk's sake.
-The Penguins outshot the Thrashers, 31-23.
-Sykora led the game with seven shots. Crosby was second with six.
-Kozlov, Kovalchuk and Reasoner led the Thrashers with three each.
-Atlanta had a 30-27 edge in faceoffs.
-The great Mike Zigomanis was 11-for-15.
-Crosby led the game with 24:13 of ice time.
-Hainsey led Atlanta with 23:53.
-Goligoski, Satan, Exelby, Hainsey, Williams and Havelid all had two blocked shots each.