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You are reading live from the press box at Mellon Arena on a somewhat overcast but mild day in Pittsburgh. Big two points on the line here today. The winner gets sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
We walked up to the arena again with such nice weather. Market Square:
-Greatest. Sign. Ever:
-Is it still necessary to mark buildings as fallout shelters these days?
-Looking up at the U.S. Steel Building or whatever it's called these days:
-If we didn't have our car impounded several years ago for simply parking at an unmetered spot downtown, we would have a problem with posting this photo. But we did and we don't:
-The back side of Pittsburgh's downtown Post Office:
-Some folks might be surprised to know a pretty major highway runs right in front of Mellon Arena:
-A Henrik Lundqvist jersey:
-A Marc-Andre Fleury jersey foul right?
-Not so. It's a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Marc-Andre Fleury jersey:
-A Marine Corp. color guard getting organized:
-Two of the Rangers getting some leg work in:
-EN reader John Kocher is sporting a Henrik Lundqvist Team Sweden jersey to today's game:
-Lowell Murray took care of the obligatory Consol Energy Center shot for us:
-Dany Sabourin is not amused by this jersey foul:
-Sidney Crosby jersey foul:
-A Ron Francis No. 9 jersey:
(Francis wore No. 9 when he first came here from Hartford in 1991. Barry Pederson already had No. 10.)
-Some things we spotted around the arena. A Darius Kasparaitis jersey with an afro wig:
-There was this whole crew of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins fans here with some solid jerseys. Tom Kostopoulos:
-Unless Dave Michayluk wore No. 9 in a preseason game, this is a jersey foul:
(The Penguins' media guide only lists him as wearing No. 34 officially. Still though, a Dave Michayluk jersey? Pretty sweet.)
-Markus Naslund Rangers:
(We've got a lot of other stuff to show in the first intermission.)
-The Penguins' scratches are Craig Adams and Philippe Boucher.
-The Rangers scratched Michal Rozsival and Aaron Voros.
-Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist will start in net.
-"The Staals are brothers" is set at 8 1/2 for those scoring at home.
19:41: Sergei Gonchar controls the puck at the top of the slot and lobs a wrister on net. Lundqvist makes the easy glove save.
19:20: Tyler Kennedy snaps a wrister from the left wing that misses the mark.
19:08: Sean Avery is already up to his old tricks as an official drags him away from Jordan Staal.
18:06: Crosby coasts up the left wing and dishes a cross ice pass to Chris Kunitz in the left faceoff circle. Kunitz goes to one knee and gets a shot on net. Lundqvist kicks it out. Crosby and Kunitz scramble for the rebound. Lundqvist covers it up. Nice chance there for the Penguins.
17:48: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
17:40: Maxime Talbot and an official take out Marc Staal in the corner.
17:08: Avery is separated from Kennedy during another stoppage.
16:35: Kennedy works his way free down the left wing and dishes a backhanded pass to Ruslan Fedotenko in the slot. Fedotenko pushes the shot wide and crashes into the net.
16:11: You knew something was brewing. Kennedy gives Avery a shove right in front of the Penguins' bench. Avery turns and waves his gloves inviting Kennedy to fight. Kennedy takes him up and lands a first shot. Avery then hugs him. The wrestle a bit before Kennedy falls on top of Avery. The WWE "Missterrrrrrr Keeeeennneddeeeeee!" clip is played. We really need to find a YouTube Clip of that. Nice to see Sean Avery is still Sean Avery.
14:37: Crosby dishes a backhanded pass into the slot for a charging Letang. Letang's a step ahead of the pass and overskates it. They had a nice chance there.
13:40: Jordan Staal whiffs on a nice chance in the slot.
13:17: Malkin gets a pass down the right wing, makes a nice cut inside Derek Morris. Morris gets turned around and is forced to hook Malkin. The Penguins forward still manages to rip a wrister on net. Lundqvist fights it off. Morris touches the puck. Play is halted. That's two minutes. After a commercial stoppage, Malkin, Crosby, Gonchar, Letang and Kunitz are on for the power play.
13:01: Malkin loses a battle along the boards with the puck which gets cleared down the ice. PUT HIM BACK ON THE POINT!!!!!!
11:37: After Petr Sykora steals a puck behind the net and throws it into the crease. Jordan Staal chops at it but can't get a shot on net.
11:17: Morris' penalty is killed. That was a really weak two minutes for the Penguins.
11:03: Whoa. Where did that come from? Fedotenko backhand chips a puck into the neutral zone for Talbot. Talbot grabs it and simply blows by the Rangers' defense like he's Alex Ovechkin. He shoots five hole and burns Lundqvist. That just came out of no where. Fedotenko and Brooks Orpik get the assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1-0.
10:47: Pascal Dupuis blasts a slapper from the left point. Lundqvist hangs on for the save.
9:38: During a stoppage. Avery goes to the crease and gives Hal Gill a shove from behind. Gill turns around but before he can do anything, Orpik throws Avery to the ice. We're not sure Avery didn't embellish that a bit. A few fans chant "Avvvee....Reeeee.... Avvvveeee....Reeee..."
8:40: From the right wing, Malkin backhands a puck into the slot. Talbot fights off a Rangers defender and directs it on net. Lundqvist makes the inital save. Cooke fights off Brandon Dubinsky and gets the rebound on net. Again Lundqvist makes a save. While falling, Cooke flips another rebound over a prone Lundqvist. What a nice dirty goal. Talbot and Malkin get assists. A two-point game for Talbot already. "Hey Song." Penguins 2-0.
8:14: Fleury scoops up a low shot.
5:30: Dubinsky fires a loose puck along the left wing high over the net.
4:52: Scott Gomez comes up the left wing and fires a slapper. Fleury fights it off.
4:42: Malkin is sent off for cross checking. Jordan Staal, Gonchar, Cooke and Orpik are on for the kill
4:10: Gomez punches a shot from the side of the net. Fleury fights it off.
3:55: Morris hammers a one-timer from the top of the slot. It clunks off the post.
3:41: Cooke blocks a shot by Morris from the right point. Cooke scoops up the puck and works it down ice killing some time.
2:57: GIll drops Avery in the slot.
2:42: Malkin's penalty is killed.
1:36: Blair Betts tosses a shot on net from deep on the left wing. It rises up on Fleury who traps it against his chest.
1:32: Tough time to give up a goal. Off a faceoff win by Gomez, Callahan collects a loose puck and rips a wrister by Fleury on the glove side. Not a good goal for Fleury to give up. He was square to the shooter and didn't have any traffic in front of him. That's a save he should make. Avery and Gomez get assists. Penguins 2-1.
0:51: On a backcheck, Drury tries to pop Kennedy inside the Rangers' blue line. Kennedy stands him up and Drury falls to his knees.
0:04: Even tougher time to give up a goal. This is a totally different game now. Nikolai Zherdev dishes a pass behind the net to Dubinsky. Dubinsky takes it and sneaks a wraparound by Fleury's left foot. Another bad goal for Fleury to give up. Zherdev and Morris get assists. Penguins 2, Rangers 2.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Rangers 2.
-The Penguins had a pretty good first 18 minutes of hockey there. Too bad most periods last 20 minutes. They were coolly in control of this game and then the roof just caved in on them late.
-Fleury was not good that last two minutes. Both of those goals were weak.
-As we stated before, Avery's still Avery. He's doing all the things that make him a valuable player.
-Hal Gill actually got a shot on net shorthanded. How crazy would that be if he scored in back-to-back games?
-The Rangers have a 15-9 lead in shots.
-Gomez already have five shots on net.
-Cooke and Talbot lead the Penguins with two each.
-The Rangers have a 13-8 lead in faceoffs (62 percent).
-Drury is 5-for-6 (83 percent).
-Talbot is 4-for-5 (80 percent).
-Dan Girardi leads the game with 9:52 of ice time already. Geez.
-Gonchar leads the Penguins with 9:07.
-Anyone care to explain why Letang (5:57) has less ice time than all the Penguins' other defensemen other than Mark Eaton (5:24)?
-A few more jerseys we've spotted. Johan Hedberg:
-A Blackhawks Winter Classic Jonathan Toews jersey?
-While this is a jersey foul, this is a pretty sweet Patrick Roy jersey:
(It even had the 1993 Stanley Cup final patch on the front.)
-Mario Lemieux Wales Conference jersey:
-Michal Rozsival still has one fan here:
-A Rob Scuderi Wilkes-Barre/Scranton jersey:
-We got a report from a reader that Jordan Staal may have suffered an injury. For what it's worth, he has returned to ice along with his teammates to start the period.
19:15: Jordan Staal takes a faceoff. He seems fine.
18:34: GIll chips a puck in on net from the left poing. Lundqvist covers it up.
17:51: Dubinsky sails a wrister from the right wing therough
17:30: Eric Godard and Colton dance for the fourth time this season. They hold each off with their left arms and clobber one another with their rights. They threw some big time punches there. The fights ends when each tires out and officials step in. Nice brawl. Danzig's "Mother" is played during the bout:
15:55: Fleury denies Gomez in tight. Gomez gets the rebound behind Fleury but Scuderi is there on the back door to flick it out of danger.
15:46: Fedotenko comes up on a four-on-one against Morris. Instead of forcing a pass to Jordan Staal, he simply rips a wrister by Lundqvist's blocker from the right wing. Nice shot. Scuderi and Kennedy get assists. Lots of secondary players are getting points today for the Penguins today. "Hey Song." Penguins 3-2.
13:40: Callahan gets a pass to the right of the net. He holds it and allows Gill to go down for a block. Gill slides right by him. Callahan rips a wrister that Fleury fights off.
12:45: Wade Redden finally decides to make a contribution by taking an interference penalty. What a horrible signing he's been. Gonchar, Malkin, Crosby, Letang and Kunitz are on for the power play.
12:03: After about 32 passes (approximately), Gonchar decides he's seen enough and blasts a one-timer from the top of the slot. Lundqvist kicks it out.
11:23: Guerin gets a pass in the slot and has a seemingly clean shot. He decides to leave a drop pass to no one in particular. The Rangers pick it up and work the puck down ice. Ughhh.
11:03: Crosby gets a pass in the slot, moves in and snaps a wrister that Lundqvist gets a piece of and deflects away.
10:45: Redden's penalty is killed. The Penguins got some chances there, but still don't seem to have a great idea of what they're trying to do.
9:17: Cooke is nabbed for holding the stick. Dupuis, Jordan Staal, Orpik and Gonchar are on for the penalty kill.
9:14: After a faceoff win, Redden grips a rips a wrister from the left point. A Penguins defender deflects it away.
8:36: Gonchar chips a loose puck down ice killing some time and getting a line change. GIll, Scuderi and Kunitz join Jordan Staal.
8:03: Jordan Staal fights off a Ranger and gets a puck down ice.
7:28: Despite a screen, Fleury kicks out a wrister from the left wing.
7:17: Cooke's penalty is killed. Not a lot going on for New York there.
6:58: Naslund takes out Crosby with a check in the neutral zone. That was more like an accidental collision really.
6:25: Crosby kneels down and snaps a wrister on net. Lundqvist fights it off.
6:17: Lundqvist fights off another wrister by Crosby.
6:03: Marc Staal socks Cooke up high along the boards. That's two minutes for high sticking. Cooke says something to Staal. Officials keep all the par
5:59: Off a faceoff, Guerin is nabbed for interference. That power play lasted all of four seconds. Four-on-four for 1:56.
5:38: Malkin flies up the right wing and leaves a drop pass for Sykora. With Malkin charging the net, Sykora rips a wrister that Lundqvist fights off.
5:19: Morris appears to trip Malkin up in the neutral zone. No call.
4:44: Who else? Nik Flipping Antropov scores. Girardi tosses a puck into the slot for Drury. Drury fires it into a cluster of bodies in front. Antropov abuses Eaton, grabs the rebound, spins and rips it by Fleury on the blocker side. Blame that one on Eaton. He just couldn't hand Antropov. Heck, the Penguins can't handle him. He has nine points in five games against the Penguins this season. Penguins 3, Rangers 3.
4:11: Fedotenko dishes a feed to Crosby in the slot. Paul Mara holds up Crosby and prevents him from getting the pass. That's two minutes for interference. We'll have a 4-on-3 for seven seconds. Letang, Crosby, malkin and Gonchar are on for the power play.
4:03: Marc Staal's penalty is killed.
3:59: Guerin's penalty is killed. Five-on-four for 1:53.
3:01: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
2:15: Jordan Staal throws a wrister into the crease. Syokora is there and tips it over the net.
1:49: Zherdev is nabbed for tipping. That's two minutes. Crosby, Kunitz, Malkin, Letang and Gonchar are on to waste two minutes for the power play.
1:15: Malkin whips a wrister from the right wing that misses the cage.
1:03: Betts makes a nice play by diving to tip the puck down ice and kills some time.
0:49: Lundqvist has Crosby's number today. He eats up another wrister by the Penguins' captain in tight.
0:42: Lundqvist eats up a one-timer by Jordan Staal off the faceoff.
0:30: Jordan Staal pushes a puck through the crease.
0:00: After about 234lakdfqe234q23422o232'131!%!#320 passes (approximately), Lundqvist covers up a puck that weakly slides in on net. Seriously, that last 15 seconds there was the perfect example of what is wrong with this power play. End of period. Penguins 3, Rangers 3.
-We've said this countless time, but the Penguins' power play will be their biggest internal obstacle to overcome if they want to make a legit run at the Stanley Cup. They have so much talent at their disposal and no one can even seem to get a shot on net. They won't go far until they get that corrected.
-We watched the Capitals' 5-3 win last night against Tampa Bay and they got three goals on the power play. Yeah, the Lightning stinks, but the point of this is that the Capitals got shots on net. And Alex Ovechkin was the reason. He gets shots on net. You can call him selfish all you want, and we might agree with you in some cases, but the Penguins need someone to be like that on the power play at least. Someone needs to be selfish and needs to take that shot. The Capitals got something like six or seven shots on net before they scored on one power play. Some were ugly shots but so what? Eventually one of them resulted in a goal.
-NIk Antropov, destroyer of all worlds, now has nine points (five goals, four assists) in five games against the Penguins. That bring his points-per-game average against the Penguins down from 2.0 to 1.8. He's slipping.
The Rangers have a 22-19 edge in faceoffs.
-Gomez leads the game with seven shots.
-Crosby leads the Penguins with six.
-The Rangers have a 22-19 edge in faceoffs (54 percent).
-Drury is 8-for-12 (67 percent).
-Talbot is 4-for-6 (67 percent).
-Girardi leads the game with 20:37 of ice time.
-Gonchar is tops on the Penguins with 19:51.
-Scuderi leads the game with four blocked shots.
-Betts leads the Rangers with three.
-The Penguins will have 10 seconds of passing drills power-play time on clean ice to start the period.
19:53: Off a faceoff, Orpik trips up Drury. Orpik seemed like he stuck his knee on that one. And he ends up being a little shaken up on the play. He's slow to get up. Orpik gets two minutes for tripping.
19:50: Zherdev's penalty is killed. The Rangers will have a power play for 1:50. Talbot Cooke, Eaton and Gonchar are on for the kill.
18:15: Talbot covers the puck deep in the Rangers and kills about 15-20 seconds. Smart play by Talbot but that should be delay of game. If we could make one change in the NHL's rules, we would penalize a player two minutes for that because that's exactly what he's doing. He's delaying the game.
17:53: Orpik's penalty is killed. The Rangers' power play almost looks as bad as the Penguins.'
17:45: Attendance is announced as 17,110. It's the 105th consecutive sell-out of the team.
17:13: Eaton is dropped in the corner by Orr. Eaton's slow to get up. His nose is bloodied. Trainer Chris Stewart races out to attend to him. He gets up and makes his way to the bench with a towel on his face. Orr is given a five minute boarding major and a game misconduct. Wow. That's not a great call by any means. Eaton just kind of raced in there and got pinned in behind Orr. We could mabye see giving Orr two minutes or something but a major and a game misconduct is way too much. John Tortorella is screaming at the officials. We can't blame him. Big time gift for the Penguins.
17:09: Right off the faceoff, Kunitz is called for hooking Marc Staal. Four-on-four for two minutes. That was another weak call. The officials are calling this game really tight but that had "make-up" call written all over it.
16:49: From his backside, Crosby whips a backhanded pass to Malkin who glides down the right wing and rips a wrister on net. Lundqvist eats it up.
15:24: Fleury easily kicks out a shot by Redden from the left point.
15:09: Kuntiz's penalty is killed. The Penguins will have a man advantage for 1:56.
15:02: Kunitz flips a backhander on net from the right wing. Lundqvist kicks it out.
14:38: Crosby hammers a one-timer from the right wing. It's off the mark.
14:16: Malkin rips a wrister from the slot wide of the cage. At least they're shooting now.
13:41: Kunitz whiffs on a feed into he slot.
13:25: Lundqvist fights off a one-timer by Letang at the left point.
12:13: Orr's major is killed off. Even if they started shooting the puck more, the Penguins wasted a big opportunity there. They should've gotten at least one goal there.
10:32: Kennedy snaps a wrister off from the right wing. Lundqvist kicks it out with a nice toe save.
10:04: Crosby finally gets one by Lundqvist. Fedotenko dishes a feed to Crosby in the neutral zone and the Penguins' captain is off to the races. He blows by a defender, moves in and snaps a low wrister by Lundqvist. Crosby had some serious jets there. Fedotenko, who always seems to work well with Crosby, gets the only assist. "Hey Song." Penguins 4-3.
9:27: Talbot is tripped up by Antropov. That's two minutes. Why is anyone even cheering when the Penguins get a power play? Crosby, Guerin, Malkin, Letang and Gonchar are on for the power play. "Cotton-Eyed Joe" is busted out:
8:42: Betts blocks a slapper by Gonchar at the top of the slot.
8:30: "Lunnnnn.....Kiiiisssstttt... Lunnnnn... Kissssttt...."
7:46: Kunitz makes a weak pass to Gonchar at the blue line. Gonchar hustles over to keep it onsides but officials blow the play dead.
7:24: Antropov's penalty is killed. The only good thing we can say at this point about the Penguins' power play is that no one suffered an injury or identity theft.
5:41: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
5:20: Fleury boots out a wrister by Morris from the right point.
4:23: Fleury denies Gomez in tight.
3:08: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
2:18: Antropov enters the zone with some speed and rips a rising wrister from the right wing. Fleury gloves it.
1:36: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
1:22: Lundqvist is pulled for an extra attacker.
1:16: Fleury comes up with a big time stop on Antropov in the slot. That might've won the game.
0:49: Malkin takes the puck in the neutral zone, gets held up by Drury and pushes the puck wide of the open cage. Ugh. They're missing more of us. But to be fair, Drury did hold him. Drury gets two minutes. Crosby, Malkin, Guerin, Letang and Gonchar take the ice.
0:34: Gomez comes up the ice with speed. Lundqvist is pulled for an extra attacker again. Gomez moves in on the right wing. He leaves a drop pass for Callahan who cranks a one-timer on net. Fleury fights it off. Another big save there.
0:04: Crosby flies up ice, jumps over a prone Rangers player, moves in and clunks a shot off the post of an empty net.. Ugh. Again? Girardi is called for tripping.
0:00: End of game. The "Woo-Hoo!" song is played. Penguins 4, Rangers 3.
-The amazing thing about this win is that the Penguins played a very sloppy game , couldn't get anything from their power play and Fleury was shaky early on. Despite all of that, they just won. They simply won. They're hardly a well-oiled machine right now, but they seemingly can't do anything wrong in terms of the scoreboard. Could you imagine how scary they'd be if they did get their power play going even a little?
-We've spoken enough about the power play for the day without getting a headache. It stinks. You know that. It went 0-for-9. Niiiine times. There's nothing new we can say about it with the English language.
-After a few bad goals early on, Fleury got things in order and earned the win today. He had two big saves on Antropov and Callahan late that really sealed the win. Nice to see he didn't have his confidence shaken by those first two goals.
-To clarify something, we incorrectly stated Orr was given five minutes for boarding. He actually got five minutes for interference. There's a little used rule in the NHL's rule book that allows officials to dole out five minutes for interference. To quote rules 56.4 and 56.5:
"56.4 Major Penalty - The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a major penalty, based on the degree of violence, to a player or goalkeeper guilty of interfering with an opponent (see 56.5)."
"56.5 Game Misconduct Penalty – When a major penalty is imposed under this rule for a foul resulting in an injury of an opponent, a game misconduct shall be imposed."
-Based on that rule, we agree with the call all around. Orr interfered with Eaton and it resulted in in an injury. Good call.
-How about Ruslan Fedotenko? He rebounded after a bad spell of games and had a three-point game (one goal, two assists). He played a bit with Crosby today. It's kind of a stupid thing to say that he plays better with Crosby. Who isn't better with Crosby? But he seems to elevate his game more than most when he's teamed up with Crosby.
-Fedotenko scored his first point since picking up an assist in a 4-1 win at Florida, March 5.
-It was nice to see the Penguins get some secondary scoring from some other players. Malkin and Crosby "only" had one point each. Fedotenko and Talbot each had multiple points.
-Talbot had his first multi-point game since that thrilling 7-6 overtime win in Detroit, Nov. 11.
-The Rangers still don't seem like they're totally in sync with one another. This is a very talented roster but there's not a great deal of chemistry.
-Lundqvist was not all that great. He needs to play better for the Rangers to do some damage in the playoffs. He's easily their most valuable player.
-When asked about Kennedy's fight with Avery, Dan Byslma asked "Who did he fight?"
-In all seriousness, did anyone see Avery after the first period?
-Did anyone see Petr Sykora? He has gone five consecutive games without a point. We're not convinced he's not still dealing with some sort of injury or ailment.
-The Rangers ended up with a 29-28 edge in shots.
-Gomez and Crosby each led the game with seven shots.
-New York led in faceoffs, 32-28 (53 percent).
-Drury was 11-for-17 (65 percent).
-Talbot was 4-for-7 (57 percent).
-When did Dan Girardi become Nicklas Lidstrom? He led the game with a massive 31:18 of ice time.
-Gonchar led the Penguins with 29:08.
-Letang's ice time improved as the game went on. He finishes second to Gonchar among the Penguins' defensemen with 23:22. That was mostly due to the numerous power plays the Penguins had. Letang logged 10:21 of ice time with the man advantage.
-Scuderi, Girardi and Betts led the game with four blocked shots each.
-The Penguins need to sign Nik Antropov this offseason just to prevent him from doing any future damage to them.
-John Tortorella wasn't exactly happy with the officiating after the game saying, "I guess the thing that's frustrating is two teams with the type of position we're in this time of year. I just hope that we allow the teams to make the difference, to determine the results. I'll leave it at that. The players play hard and they're the ones that need to determine the results."
-The officiating was pretty bad today. Both teams had reasons to gripe over some poor calls and just general inconsistency from the zebras. That was probably the worst officiated game we've see in person all season.
-How crazy is it that these teams went undefeated at home against each other this season?
-Crosby's personal scoring streak is now up to 15 games. His career-long is 19 games.
-It was just explained to us that because Crosby missed those handful of games in the middle of his personal streak, he officially isn't getting credit for a 15-game streak. "Officially," He has an 11-game scoring streak.
-Malkin extended a scoring streak to five games.
-Fleury is now 8-2-4 against the Atlantic Division this season.
-Should we change the name of the blog over the Penguins' inability to bury pucks into empty cages?