-Hey, guess where we are:
-No, not quite:
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Deryk Engelland, Mike Rupp and Mike Comrie.
-The Panthers starters are Radek Dvorak, Marty Reasoner, Chris Higgins, Bryan Allen, Dennis Wideman and Tomas Vokoun.
-Their scratches are Steve Bernier, Steven Reinprect and Rostislav Olesz.
-FSN Pittsburgh provides your lines and defensive pairings for the Penguins:
19:11: Off a drop pass by Reasoner, Dvorak rips a big wrister on net from the left wing. Fleury boots it out.
17:35: Off a turnover forced by Mark Letestu, Ben Lovejoy whips a wrister towards the cage from the right point wide on the far side.
17:15: Bill Thomas is from Pittsburgh:
17:13: Shawn Matthias whips a wrister on net from the left wing.
15:58: Stephen Weiss is nabbed for interference against Fleury. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang and Paul Martin take the ice.
15:53: Whoa! What!? Crosby wins the faceoff in the left circle. It's didtributed to Martin at the left point. Martin moves it to Letang at the right point. Letang takes the pass, looks up and simply smacks a slapper from the point. Kunitz is in front of Vokoun on a screen. The puck sails by Vokoun's glove hand on the far side. Where has that been all season. It was so simple it was disgusting. Who else was waiting for Kunitz to force some lousy cross-ice pass? Stunning. Martin and Crosby get assists. Penguins 1-0.
15:06: Michal Repik is denied in tight by Fleury.
14:08: Eric Godard clumbsily skates into Vokoun and into the net. That's two minutes for interference. Max Talbot, Matt Cooke, Brooks Oprik and Michalek take the ice against the 30th-ranked power play in the NHL.
12:19: Reasoner snaps off a wrister from the left point. Fleury boots it away with his right foot.
12:08: The Godard minor expires without much of a threat from the Panthers.
11:19: After stealing the puck on a backcheck in his own zone, Crosby leads a rush up the ice on the right wing. He gains the zone, approaches the net and zips a cross ice pass to Goligoski flying up the left wing. Goligoski lifts a wrister from the left circle. Vokoun eats it up.
11:08: Vokoun absorbs a re-direction attempt by Malkin in tight.
11:05: So much for these new-fangled lines sticking. Crosby is taking a faceoff in the offensive zone with Malkin and Arron Asham.
10:45: Reasoner is nabbed for holding Asham. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Martin and Letang take the ice.
9:39: Letang hobbles off the ice after a collision with Dvorak.
9:05: Michalek chops a half slapper from the top of the
8:53: From the left wing, Malkin zips a cross ice pass to Tyler Kennedy on the right wing. Kennedy then taps it to Crosby in the slot. Crosby takes it on his forehand, moves to his forehand and puts it behind the right leg of Vokoun who bit badly on pass by Kennedy was out of place by a mile. This is the greatest power play EVAHHHH!!! Crosby gets his 15th goal of the season. Kennedy and Malkin get assists. Penguins 2-0.
8:32: Letestu streaks in off the left wing and has shis wrister denied by Vokoun. Kunitz is there for the rebound but chops it over the cage.
6:02: Craig Adams is called for holding Higgin's stick. Talbot, Cooke, Michalek and Orpik take the ice.
5:58: Off a faceoff win by Mike Santorelli in the right circle, Wideman blasts a one-timer from the left half wall. Fleury boots it away.
4:02: Adams' minor is killed off. The Panthers have done next to nothing with the power play.
2:30: Booth snaps off a wrister from the right wing wall. Fleury snags it.
2:09: Conner jabs a little wrister off the left wing on net. Vokoun fights it off with his belly.
1:45: Letang is apparently fine as he's back on the ice.
0:39: Mike Weaver smacks a slapper on net from the right point. Fleury stands up and fends it off.
0:35: Who else but Cory Stillman would score here? Jay Garrison pumps a wrister on net from the left circle. Fleury makes the initial save. Stillman, an all-star of a Penguin-killer, is in front for the rebound and appears to "cross check" it in with the shaft of his stick. An official immediatley rules it a goal. The Penguins protest saying he punched it in with his glove. Officials review the play and confirm the call on the ice. Garrison and Michael Frolik get assists. Penguins 2-1.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Panthers 1.
-Part of us wants to think this surge in success for the Penguins' power play is a fluke. The Panthers aren't that good right?
-That assumption would be incorrect. Partially at least. While the Panthers are once again a mediocre team overall, their penalt kill is pretty strong. Prior to tonight, it was clicking at 87.3 percent, sixth overall in the NHL.
-Letang getting a power play goal is huge for him and his confidence in his shot.
-The Penguins' other special teams unit, the penalty kill, was outstanding.
-This Goligoski-Lovejoy pairing on defense has us a little nervous.
-Give the Panthers credit there for rallying a bit towards the end of the period and putting one on the board. There's a huge difference between 2-1 and 2-0.
-The Penguins have a 14-10 lead in shots.
-Michalek leads the game with three shots. Interesting.
-Stillman leads the Panthers with two.
-Wideman leads the game with 8:39 of ice time.
-Michalek leads the game with 7:40.
-The Penguins have a 10-8 edge in faceoffs (56 percent).
-Crosby is 5 for 7 (71 percent).
-Weiss is 2 for 3 (67 percent).
-No one has more than one blocked shots.
-Just when you're feeling good about the nice 70-degree, somewhat sunny day we had today here in Western Pennsylvani, FSN Pittsburgh pull this garbage and shows this:
16:59: Bryan McCabe booms a one-timer from the left point. Fleury holds it out with his left foot.
15:57: Allen blasts a slapper from the left point. Fleury fights it off.
15:46: Off an icing call, Dan Bylsma calls a time out to rest his players.
15:43: Off a faceoff wing by Santorelli in the left circle, Garrison snaps off a wrister from the left point through traffic. Fleury boots it to the near corner.
14:00: Michalek snaps off a wrister from the left point. Vokoun makes the save but fumbles the rebound a bit. Malkin jumps on the puck but can't get a clean shot on net.
13:49: As Dan Potash interviews Alex Goligoski's dad, Brook Orpik's dad sips a Corona and stares daggers at the ice:
13:13: David Booth gains the puck on the right wing. He fends off Michalek and centers a pass to the slot. Letestu intercepts the pass but fails to clear it out of danger. McCabe jumps on Letestu, takes the puck and whips a wrister through the equipement of Fleury and into the cage. Bad play by Letestu. Bad non-save by Fleury. Booth and Thomas get assists. Fire Ray Shero. Panthers 2, Penguins 2.
12:07: Mr. Orpik slams down his Corona as his son flips a puck out of play. That's two minutes for delay of game. Cooke, Talbot, Michalek and Goligoski take the ice.
10:07: The Penguins kill off Orpik's penalty. Florida looks like it has Mike Yeo running the power play.
7:50: Thomas dishes a pass to Wideman at the left point. Wideman whips a wrister on net. Fleury eats it up.
6:27: Stillman is denied in tight by Fleury. Weiss has a chance on the rebound but Goligoski dive and make a nice play to poke the puck away from Weiss.
5:54: Goligoski whips a wrister towards net from the right wing. Crosby cuts to the slot and re-directs it on net. Vokoun makes the inital save. Dupuis and Kunitz each have a chance on the rebound but can't pull the trigger.
5:20: Booth flies up the right wing one-on-one with Michalek. Michalek initially prevents a shot from getting on net but Booth eventually gets a clean shot off. Fleury denies it.
4:09: Letang sets up just outside his blue line and drop Higgins with a stiff shoulder check to the chest in front of Florida's bench. Higgins falls backwards and his helmet is dislodged. Ouch.
3:30: From behind of the net, Conner deals a puck to Kennedy in front of the slot. Kennedy rips a wrister on net. Vokoun makes the save but the puck sneaks behind him into the crease. Dmitry Kulikov is Johnny-on-the-spot and whips it down ice and out of dagner.
3:24: After an icing call, Florida coach Peter DeBoer calls a time out to get his players a breather.
2:55: Lovejoy booms a slapper from the top of the slot wide to the right of the cage.
2:20: Higgins has a chance in the slot but gets conked in the mush by Kunitz. That's two minutes for roughing. Michlake, Talbot, Orpik and Cooke take the ice.
1:45: Wideman goes to teh bench after it appears he was slashed on the hand. No call.
1:02: Shothanded, Talbot pushes the puck up the left wing two-on-two with Cooke. Talbot dishes a cross ice pass to Cooke. Cooke rips a wrister which clacks off the far post. Argh.
0:20: Kunitz' minor is killed. The Panthers look awful with the man advantage.
0:00: End of period. Panthers 2, Penguins 2.
-There wasn't a ton of scoring in that period, but it was a pretty fun 20 minutes of hockey. Plenty of skating. Plenty of scoring chances. And plenty of tough saves.
-That said, this hasn't been an overly physical game. Very little hitting or even scrums after the whistle.
-Crosby continues to play like he's trying to prove a point.
-Michalek is having perhaps his best game of the season.
-David Booth is scary when healthy.
-The Panthers have a 22-20 edge in shots.
-Michalek and Crosby each lead the game with four shots.
-Matthias and Stillman each lead the Panthers with three.
-Orpik leads the game with 15:28 of ice time.
-Booth is right behind him with 15:26.
-The Panthers have a 22-16 lead in faceoffs (58 percent).
-Weiss is 4 for 5 (80 percent).
-Crosby is 10 for 14 (71 percent).
-Orpik leads the game with three blocked shots.
-Allen leads the Panthers with two.
19:42: Reasoner has a chance in the slot but guns the shot wide.
18:50: Talbot chops a shot on net from inside the left circle. Vokoun makes the initial save but leaves a big juicy rebound in the crease. Before Malkin can jump on it, Repik snaps it out of play. That's a delay of game penalty. Good penalty to take because Malkin had a sure goal. Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Kunitz and Martin take the ice.
17:05: Off a give and go with Goligoski, Letang pumps a one-timer on net from the top of the slot. Vokoun hops up and fends it off.
16:53: Just as the Repik penalty is about to expire, Malkin guns a slapper from the right circle. Allen leans down to block it. he's smarting a bit after that block.
16:29: Letang guns a one-timer from the top of the slot. Vokoun make the save. Malkin has a chance on the rebound but can't get a clean handle on the puck.
16:13: Off a nice move around Orpik off the left wing, Higgins clunks a shot off the cross bar. Argh.
14:40: Adams is taking a shift with Crosby and Kunitz.
12:46: Letestu drops Kulikov behind the Panthers' net.
12:04: Crosby lifts a wrister from the right circle. Vokoun gloves it.
11:02: Repik is denied in tight by Fleury.
9:00: Booth snaps off a wrister from the left wing. Fleury kicks it out.
7:30: Lots of dumping and chasing by each team right now.
7:04: Letestu goes wide with the puck on the right wing. He fends off a stick check by McCabe and centers a pass to Conner in the right circle. Conner jabs a quick wrister just over the left leg of Vokoun. The plucky third line strikes and gives the Penguins a lead. Letestu and Michalek get assists. Also, according to Steigerwald, Conner's dad's name is John. We can't help but wonder how he has time to watch hockey when the T-1000 is hunting him. Penguins 3-2.
4:37: Big chance here for the Panthers as Kennedy knocks McCabe into the wall from behind. Adams, Cooke, Michalek and Orpik take the ice.
4:12: Fleury fends off a re-direction attempt by Santorelli.
2:53: Michalek blocks a big wrister by Frolik in the slot. Big sacrifice there.
2:37: Kennedy's penalty expires. Big kill for the Penguins.
1:30: As Vokoun is pulled for an extra attacker. Weiss snaps off a pass from the right wing. Booth is in the slot but is a step slow and misses the pass.
0:05: On the right wing, Crosby backhands a pass from the Panthers' blue line wide on the far side.
0:00: End of game. Crosby chases after a puck on the right wing boards with Booth. Booth kind of slew foots him into the boards as time expires. Adams and a few others take exception and a small scrum develops. Penguins 3-2.
-It finally came through. The Penguins defense finally sealed a win with an effort late. The Panthers had a power play late and it couldn't find any holes in the Penguins' defense. After a few last minute collapses, the defense tightened up and secured this win.
-Before we start confusing this blue lin unit with the 1994-95 Devils, lets keep this in perspective. The Panthers are a pretty offensively challenged team to begin with. And they were playing without some of their better forwards like Steven Reinprect and Rostislav Olesz.
-Michalek had by far his best game of the season. He was all over the ice. Blocking shots. Defending one-on-one. Getting involved in the offense. Michalek showed tonight why he was one of the most coveted free agent signings of the offseason.
-The power play finally became a weapon tonight. And against a good defensive team.
-Fleury was solid. We weren't crazy about the second goal he let up, but he did more than enough to earn a win. That's all you can ask of a goaltender.
-We love this third line of Kennedy, Conner and Letestu more and more every day.
-The "new" second line of Malkin, Cooke and Talbot didn't exactly blow anyone away.
-Lovejoy was solid despite having not played for a few games.
-Crosby is still on a tear. He now has points in nine consecutive games. He has had multiple points in seven of those games.
-Once again, when he's healthy, David Booth is a scary player. His ability to create things offensively with his speed was on display tonight.
-The Panthers led in shots, 29-26.
-Crosby led the game with five shots.
-Booth led the Panthers with four.
-Wideman led the game with 24:04 of ice time.
-Orpik led the Penguins with 23:18.
-The Panthers controlled faceoffs 34-20 (63 percent).
-Santorelli was 12 for 15 (80 percent).
-Crosby was 13 for 22 (59 percent).
-Orpik led the game with six blocked shots.
-Allen led the Panthers with three.
-Kennedy moved ahead of Jiri Slegr for 92nd place on the team's all-time scoring list. Each player has 86 points, but Kennedy (42) has more goals than Slegr (24).
-Eagle-eyed EN reader @dupweeeee spotted an Eric Cairns jersey in the stands: