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Penguins at Thrashers - 04-10-11

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

PREGAME

(One last time this season...)

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-Hey, guess where we are:

-No, not quite:

-According to FSN Pittsburgh Root Sports, the Penguins' lines and defensive pairings will look like this:

Eric Tangradi - Mark Lestestu - Alex Kovalev
Mike Rupp - Mike Comrie - Tyler Kennedy
Pascal Dupuis - Maxime Talbot - Chris Conner
Eric Godard - Craig Adams - Arron Asham

Brooks Orpik - Kris Letang
Zbynek Michalek - Ben Lovejoy
Matt Niskanen - Deryk Engelland

-The Penguins' starters are Conner, Dupuis, Talbot, Letang, Orpik and Brent Johnson.

-Their scratches are Matt Cooke, Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, James Neal and Jordan Staal.

-The Thrashers' starters are Nik Antropov, Evander Kane, Anthony Stewart, Johnny Oduya, Mark Stuart and Chris Mason.

-Their scratches are Eric Boulton, Patrice Courmier, Radek Dvorak, Tobias Enstrom and Rob Schremp.

-EN Reader Tim Titus is on site and spotted this Macon Trax jersey:

FIRST PERIOD

18:09: Blake Wheeler snaps off a wrister from a tough angle on the right wing. Johnson kicks it out.

17:35: Mike Rupp barges up the right wing and whips a wrister on net from along the goal line. Mason holds it out.

16:32: Godard is nabbed for hooking Antorpove along the left wing wall of the Penguins' zone. That's two minutes. Talbot, Dupuis, Lovejoy and Orpik take the ice.

16:21: And it gets worse for the Penguins as Talbot is called for slashing against Little. He broke Little's stick. Five on three for the Thrashers for 1:49. Adams, Michalek and Orpik take the ice.

15:53: And the Thrashers don't waste time with the two-man advantage. Little zips up the left wing. Orpik and Michalek don't really commit to putting a body on him and allow Little to flip a backhanded pass across the slot. Just below the right circle, Ladd snaps off a wrister which Johnson has no prayer of stopping. What a pass. And what tells you the Penguins would never in a million years attack a team like that with a two-man advantage if they had their own power play? The Thrashers still have 1:32 of a one-man advantage. Dupuis, Adams, Niskanen and Engelland take the ice. Little and Antropov get assists. Thrashers 1-0.

14:21: The Talbot penalty is killed. The Penguins were effective in killing off the rest of that chance for the Thrashers.

12:24: From the right circle, Kovalev taps a backhands pass to the slot. Tangradi is there and has a clean look at the net but former Penguin Chris Thorburn makes a marvelous effort on the back check and knocks the puck away. Fire Ray Shero.

11:53: Oduya snaps off a wrister from above the left circle. Johnson kicks it out despite traffic.

11:46: Big Dustin Byfugilen booms a slapper from the right right point. Johnson snags it with his glove.

11:25: Dupuis flings a backhander from the right wing. Mason eats it up.

10:26: Comrie collects a loose puck in the slot, spins and whips a wrister on net. Mason kick it out.

10:00: Bobby Orpik is in deep on the left wing and snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Mason eats it up despite traffic.

7:51: Root Sports digs up a solid stat:

7:07: Andrey Zubarev shoulders Arron Asham in the left wing corner of the Thrashers' zone. That's two minutes for tripping. Seemed kind of like a ticky tack call. The Penguins will take it. Kovalev, Letang, Comrie, Rupp and Michalek take the ice.

5:46: After a turnover by Zach Bogosian behind his own net, Letang takes a pass at the right point, sneaks in on net and lifts a wrister on net from the right circle. Mason eats it up.

5:07: Zubarev's minor is killed. The Penguins had all of two shots on that power play. Ick.

4:05: Conner snaps off a quick wrister froma bove the left circle. Mason shoulders it away.

3:05: Asham snaps off a wrister from the slot. Mason make the save. Godard is right on the doorstep and jabs the rebound wide to the right of the cage.

2:13: Carl Klingberg hustles up the right wing and flicks a wrister on net from the circle. Johnson makes the initial save. Antropov is there for the rebound and jabs it right into Johnson who eats it up. As always, the Penguins have a strong fan presence on the road:

1:12: Johnson fights off a re-direction by Thorburn from the left wing.

0:02: Off a facoeff wing in the right circle, Byfuglien snaps off a heavy wrister to the far side. Johnson punches it away.

0:00: End of period. Thrashers 1, Penguins 0.

FIRST INTERMISSION

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-The Thrashers controlled that period for the most part. They had the better quality of scoring chances and controlled play in the Penguins' zone for the most part.

-That said, you have to kind of treat this game like a preseason game in terms of evaluating the Penguins. They have some of their better players scratched and there's not a lot at stake from a team perspective.

-Brent Johnson was solid. You want him to get some work before the postseason.

-Thorburn is a pretty solid player all around. He does a little bit of everything.

-Fire Ray Shero.

-The Thrashers have a 12-9 lead in shots.

-Comrie, Wheeler, Byfuglien and Antropov each lead the game with two shots.

-Michalek leads the game with 8:42 of ice time.

-Bogosian leads the Thrashers with 8:26.

-The Thrashers have a 10-8 edge in faceoffs (56 percent).

-Alexander Burmistrove is 5 for 8 (63 percent).

-Talbot is 3 for 5 (60 percent).

-No one has more than one blocked shot.

SECOND PERIOD

18:40: Byfuglien whips a wrister at the cage from the right point. Michalek blocks that shot. Little is there for the rebound but has that blocked by Michalek as well.

18:22: Byfuglien has a nother chance in the slot and booms a one-timer. Lovejoy blocks it wide to the side of the cage with his stick.

17:03: Ben Maxwell re-directs a shot from the right point. Johnson kick it out. Tough save.

16:20: A strong contingent of visiting Penguins fans start a solid "Let's Go Pens!" chant.

15:56: Klingberg uncorks a heavy wrister from above the left circle. Johnson eats it up.

15:08: Wheeler slams Michalek from behind into the boards face first behind the Penguins' net. What a stupid play. Wheeler is sent off for boarding. Thankfully Michalek is fine. Kovalev, Rupp, Comrie, Michalek and Letang take the ice.

14:13: The Penguins get a little lose in theor own zone and allow Kane to dance through their zone and whip a wrister on net. Johnson eats it up.

13:35: The season isn't over for Tyler Kennedy. Niskanen controls the puck at the top of the slot. and deals to Kennedy on the right half wall. He takes the pass, moves in and rips a wrister to the far side by Mason's blocker. Tangradi had a wonderful screen on that play. Mason was completely blind to the shot. Niskanen and Lovejoy get assists. It's a power play goal for the third consecutive games for the Penguins. Tons of Penguins fans celebrate. Penguins 1, Thrashers 1.

9:33: Kane chops a loose puck on net from the left wing. Johnson kicks it out.

9:07: What a pretty play. Talbot chases down a loose puck on the right wing, recovers it, pull up in the right circle, jams up Mark Stuart and taps a pass to the slot where Dupuis sneaks in and punches it by the blocker of a helpless Mason. What a play by Talbot. Lovejoy and Talbot get assists. There's no way the Penguins can break up Talbot and Dupuis in the postseason short of injuries. Talbot and Lovejoy get assists. Plenty of happy Penguins fans down south cheer. Penguins 2-1.

7:56: Ladd is deep on the right wing and flings a pass to the slot. Wheeler is on the back door and chops it on net. Johnson slides to his left and eats it up. Tough save.

7:28: Kennedy chucks a wrister on net from the left wing. Mason punches it out.

6:49: Maxwell booms a slapper from the right half wall. Johnson shoulders it over the net.

5:54: At the slot near the Penguins' blue line, Little taps a feed to Ladd on the left wing. Ladd sneaks in on net all alone and lifts a wrister from the faceoff circle. Johnson challenges the shot and eats it up. Perfect play by Johnson.

4:33: Oh what a goofy goal. Godard controls the puck at the right point and flings a wrister wide on the near side. it hit off the end boards and takes a very fortunate bounce to the left wing right to the stick of Rupp who flings it into the wide open cage. Mason overplayed the inital "shot" by Godard badly and was out of position for Rupp's shot. Godard and Adams get assists. Godard has scored in every game since returning from his suspension. Sort of. More happy southern-fried Penguins fans. Penguins 3-1.

2:28: Hainsey snaps off a wrister from the top of the slot. It hits somethin

2:03: Comrie strips a puck off Byfuglien at the left point and has the makings of a mini breakaway. He shows a slapper at the right circle but hesitates. That allows  Zubarev to catch up with him and push him behind the cage. Comrie maintains control and punches a wraparound on net. Mason covers to freeze play.

1:46: And the rout is on. Tangradi re-directs a pass in the neutal zone to Letestu on the right wing. Letestu gains the offensive zone and flings a pretty soft wrister on cage. Mason just kind of stands up strait and allows it to clank off his right skate and into the cage. He looked like a practice goaltender on that. What a soft goal. Tangradi and Kovalev get assists. You can see at least one Terrible Towel being twirled on television. Penguins 4-1.

1:23: After Kane clobbers Letang in the neutral zone with what looks like a potential elbow to the face, Oduya is nabbed for high sticking Dupuis in the right wing corner of the Penguins. Kovalev, Rupp, Letetu, Michalek and Letang take the ice.

1:06: Little pushes the puck up ice and has mini breakaway.  Letang races after him and dives to knock the puck away. Little takes a tumble and manages to whip a puck on net from his knees. Johnson holds it out as Letang crashes into him. Michalek appeared to trip up Little. No call. Thrashers fans react to the non-call by throwing debris onto the ice. Real classy. It's a bad non-call, but what's the point?

0:00: End of period. Penguins 4, Thrashers 1.

SECOND INTERMISSION

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-The Penguins certainly woke up during that period. They maintained pressure in the Thrashers' zone, limited Atlanta's quality offensive chances and even cashed in on a power play.

-At this point, the only thing the Penguins have to accomplish is to not get anyone hurt or suspended.

-Johnson continues to be strong. He did face a few quality scoring chances and stood tall on them.

-Comrie, even in a meaningless game, looks like a completely different player when he's playing a top-six role instead of on the fourth line.

-Bryan Little is a very underrated player. He's a poor man's Daniel Briere.

-The Thrashers actually lead in shots, 23-17.

-Byfuglien and Ladd each lead the game with four shots.

-Comrie and Rupp each lead the Penguins with three.

-Bogosian leads the game with 15:54 of ice time.

-Niskanen leads the Penguins with 15:15.

-The Thrashers have a 19-18 edge in faceoffs (51 percent).

-Burmistrov is 8 for 12 (67 percent).

-Rupp is 4 for 5 (80 percent).

-Stuart leads the game with four blocked shots.

-None of the Penguins has more than one.

THIRD PERIOD

17:12: Orpik fumbles a puck at the left pont and allows Tim Stapleton to retrieve it to create a breakaway. Off the right wing, Stapleton motors in on net and attacks Johnson's five hole. Johnson closes the gates and covers the puck. Orpik owes Johnson a beer.

13:21: After a very stagnant four minutes, Niskanen take another penalty. as he slashed Byfuglien in the left faceoff circle of the Penguins' zone. He now has 20 penalty minutes in 18 games with the Penguins. Who needs Matt Cooke? Talbot, Engelland, Dupuis and Lovejoy take the ice.

11:43: Bob Errey mentions Kane cleaning Cooke's clock last season:

-Ouch.

11:21: The Niskanen minor is killed. The Thrashers had nothing going on there.

9:44: Bogosian booms a one-timer from the right point wide.

8:37: Byfuglien uncorks a rocket of slapper from the right point. Johnson traps it against his chest. Coming back from commercial, Root Sports updates its Moustache Boy chart. Before:

-After:

7:46: Tangradi is sent of for tripping Kane. Dupuis, Orpik, Niskanen and Adams take the ice.

6:45: Bogosian taps a pass to Hainsey at the right point. Hainsey booms a one-timer. The puck apears to hit Antoprov in front. Stapleton tracks down the rebound and flips it with a backhander over the glove a scrambling Johnson. A nice dirty goal. Bogosian and Hainsey get assists. Penguins 4, Thrashers 2.

6:16: The Thrashers arent' quitting. Haisney snaps off a wrister from the right point. Johnson makes the inital save but allows an iffy rebound. Stewart crashes in and punches it on net. Johnson makes the save. Stewart recovers that rebound from the side fo the cage. Kane has a chance but Johnson swings his glove hand over his head while on his back to prevent the shot. Tough saves.

6:01: The Penguins are becoming a bit unraveled here. Asham is called for tripping against Klingberg in the neutral zone. Talbot, Michalek, Dupuis and Orpik take the ice.

4:42: Letang flings a backhanded clear down ice from the right wing corner of the Penguins' zone.

4:05: Mason and Oduya fumble a puck behind the Thrashers' net. Talbot steals the puck and tries to jam it in from the left side of the cage. Mason is able to scramble into position to prevent the goal. Great effort by Talbot.

4:01: Asham's penalty is killed. The Thrashers generated little that two minutes.

3:11: Hainsey cranks a one-timer from the right point wide to the near side.

2:57: Burmistrov has a chance in tight denied by Johnson.

2:14: Ladd wires a nice wrist shot from the left circle to the far side. Johnson challenges and snags it with a slick glove save. Nice. The Thrasher call a time out to get organized.

1:45: Mason is pulled for an extr attacker.

1:28: What a nice moment. Johnson controls a dump in behind the cage. Niskanen takes the puck and banks it off the left wing boards. Dupuis one-touches it in the neutral zone to Comrie on the left wing. Comrie sneaks in and throws the puck into the open cage for one of us:

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-It's Comrie's first goal of the season. That has to feel good after a rough season for him. Dupuis and Niskanen get assists. Penguins 5-2.

0:00: End of game. End of regular season. Start of the "real" season. Penguins 5, Thrashers 2.

POSTGAME

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-There wasn't much to gain from a team perspective in this game for the Penguins. But they appeared to gain a little confidence with this win. They got something out of the power play. They got something out of Brent Johnson before the postseason. They got something out of role players such as Godard, Niskanen and Comrie who aren't assured regular spots in the lineup.

-If there's anything to be concerned over, it's the penalty kill. It gave up two goals. Granted, they were without Martin and Staal, but this unit has had a few hiccups in key situation since Matt Cooke left the lineup. With Tampa Bay's strong power play coming to town, the Penguins need to get that shored up.

-The Conner-Dupuis-Talbot line continued to make a case to stay together in the postseason. That trio has been the Penguins' best line the past week or so.

-After struggling to produce without Crosby in the lineup, Dupuis has pieced together a few productive games the past week or so. He finished the season with eight points in his final ten games.

-Lovejoy rebounded after a few rough games and netted a three-point game.

-What do you say about Tyler Kennedy, other than Marc-Andre Fleury, he's been the Penguins' most valuable player since Crosby and Malkin left the lineup. He stepped it up since that date. It's hard to believe he was seen as a guy who might not have made this roster out of training camp.

-The Thrashers? Another lost season for that miserable franchise. They have some solid young players to build a playoff team around, but they've been that way for nearly a decade. They've never taken a step forward.

-The Thrashers led in shots, 39-20.

-Kane led the game with six.

-Comrie led the Penguins with four.

-Bogosian led the game with 26:06 of ice time.

-Niskanen led the Penguins with 22:09.

-Faceoffs were tied, 29-29.

-Burmistrov 12 for 18 (67 percent).

-Talbot was 11 for 20 (55 percent).

-Stuart led the game with five blocked shots.

-Michalek and Letang each led the Penguins with three.

-Talbot and Letang were the only Penguins who played in all 82 games this season.

-The Penguins finished the season with 106 points, second-most in franchise history.

-The team finished in fourth place in the overall NHL standings. Without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Staal for much of the season. Dang.

-The Penguins ended up leading the NHL with a penalty killing percentage of 86.1.

-Dupuis (115) passed up Pete Mahovlich (114) and Terry Ruskowski (145) for 67th place on the franchise's all-time scoring list.

-Johnson moved into a tie with Dunc Wilson for 20rd place on the team's all-time wins list. Both players have 23 wins.

-The Penguins failed to get a 100-point scorer for the first time since Dick Tarnstrom paced the team with 52 points in 2003-04.

-Game summary.

-Event summary.

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