-With the absence of Kris Letang and James Neal, the Penguins have been forced to use a slightly different look on the power play. Paul Martin has manned the point virtually every time. On occasion, the team has used four forwards with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jussi Jokinen and Chris Kunitz. Increasingly, the team has used three forward and two defensemen with Martin and Matt Niskanen on the points.
The four forward/one defenseman look appears to be a lot more dangerous considering the fire power the Penguins still boast despite the absence of James Neal. But it almost seems like it's easier to defend for the opposition.The three forward/two defenseman look seems a little more conservative but the Penguins do a much better job at possessing the puck in the offensive zone with that look. We'll be interested to see how Dan Bylsma switches things up.
-The clock is ticking on Olli Maatta's time with the Penguins. We've made no secret on what we'd do with him. He's more than proven that he belongs at this level. But seven games is one thing. Seventy games is another thing for a 19-year-old defensemen.
-A lot of amateur general managers have pointed to the success of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal as proof young players like Maatta can stay. That's apples and oranges.
-First, those players were the first and second overall picks in their respective drafts. Maatta was the 22nd overall pick.
-Second, it's much easier to make that jump from juniors to the professional ranks as a forward.
-Third, when the Penguins opted to keep Jordan Staal, they somewhat thin at forward in the fall of 2006. The are loaded on defense in the fall of 2013. With Kris Letang due back soon as well as the likes of Simon Despres and others in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Olli Maatta's absence wouldn't create some void they couldn't fill.
-We would expect Chris Conner to make his season debut on the right wing of the third line today. With the Canucks in town, the Penguins would presumably want some speed in the lineup. That would mean a return to the fourth line for Craig Adams and Deryk Engelland would once again be a healthy scratch. Engelland had a nice game in Philadelphia Thursday as a fourth-line forward but this Canucks team is much better and faster than the Flyers.
-The Canucks come in with a slightly different look than in years past. First, John Tortorella is behind the bench. He hasn't instilled a defense at all cost mentality that he had for years with the Rangers, but the Canucks appear to be a little more focused on making life easier on goaltender Roberto Luongo.
-Ryan Kesler, normally a No. 2 center, appears slated to be to be the right winger on the top line with the Sedin twins. Tortorella wants him to be able to generate offense from down low. With the creative offensive games the Sedins possess, Kesler couldn't ask for better linemates to open things up for him. A former 40-goal scorer, he has been limited to three goals this season.
-The Canucks will get a big boost this afternoon with the return of defenseman Alexander Edler who has served a three-game suspension. Edler does so many things for this team in all aspects of the game. He eats a lot of minutes for this team.
-The vast majority of NHL players do not like afternoon games. Sidney Crosby detests them since they interrupt his highly valued routine. And he's not the only one who dislikes them for that reason.
-The only player we can recall who liked them was former Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy who said he enjoyed the free time he can enjoy after the game. He made the point that a night game kind of takes up the entire day with the morning skate and the actually game itself.
-The Canucks might have the worst logo in the NHL. The Killer Whale with the curved "VANCOUVER" is just terrible:
-The killer whale is some sort of homage to the Canucks' ownership group which used to be known as Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment. "Orca" is another name for the killer whale species. This would be like the Penguins having a chunk of coal on their jerseys for Consol Energy.
-We've always like the simple hockey stick/"C" logo of the Canucks:
-While the jerseys this logo were normally tied too were sometimes horrendous, the skated logo was always sharp:
-We are no longer allowed to provide our normal overhead "rink" pregame pictures.
-Some photos from around the barn. Jussi Jokinen has a fan on hand:
-A late, great Dustin Jeffrey No. 15:
-Brooks Orpik Team USA:
-Fans entering the barn:
-There are several Canucks fans on hand. Todd Bertuzzi:
-Two former Hart Trophy winners, Sidney Crosby and Henrik Sedin:
-Longtime EN Reader Lowell Murray spotted an Olli Maatta London Knights jersey:
-The great Dick Tarnstrom:
-Jersey of the Night: Former Penguins/Canucks forward Matt Cooke:
-The Penguins starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Beau Bennett, Dustin Jeffrey and Harry Zolnierczyk.
-The Deryk Engelland as a right winger experiment will continue.
-The Canucks' starters are Ryan Kesler, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Alexander Edler, Jason Garrison and Roberto Luongo.
-Their scratches are Andrew Alberts, Zac Dalpe and Yannick Weber.
-No Jimerson. No photo.
18:35: Malkin tries to wheel and deal around Christopher Higgins at the right point but Higgins pokes the puck off his blade with a nice stick check.
17:51: Tanner Glass slams Ryan Stanton into the Vancouver end boards with a strong forecheck.
16:39: Henrik Sedin fries a slapper from the left circle but has hit blocked by Dupuis. In the process of his follow-through, Sedin's stick hits Dupuis' and breaks.
15:15: Glass thumps Jordan Schroeder into the right wing boards near the Vancouver blue line.
14:36: Chris Conner steals a puck off Edler on the right wing wall of the Vancouver zone, moves to the right cirlce and rips a wrister which hits off the near post. As there is a scramble for the puck, a goal horn and a few lights go off and fans celebrate but officials rule the puck did not enter the net. They'll take a look on the video to confirm that at the first stoppage.
12:41: Higgins is nabbed for holding Martin. Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, Martin and Niskanen take the ice.
12:29: Stealing a puck off Martin from the right point, Brad Richardson pushes the puck into the Penguins' zone. Before he can really get a shot off, Niskanen chased him down and breaks up the chance.
11:24: Off a feed from Martin, Niskanen fans on a one-timer attempt.
10:37: The Higgins minor expires. Off a feed from Kobasew, Sutter rips a low wrister from the right wing. Luongo kicks it out.
9:58: Ryan Stanton tries to lineup the great Joe Vitale with a big hit in the neutral zone. Vitale braces for it and sends Stanton to the ice.
9:49: Schroeder snaps off a wrister from the center point. Fleury eats it up.
9:45: Off an offensive zone faceoff win by Henrik Sedin, Garrison uncorks a big one-timer from the left point wide of the cage.
8:30: Off some slick passing by the Sedins, Kesler leans down and lifts a wrister from the left circle. Fleury fights it off.
8:16: Kesler lifts a wrister from above the right circle. FLeury traps it against his chest.
7:59: Zack Kassian tries to jam in a forehand wraparound attempt from the left of the cage. Fleury holds it out.
7:31: Racing up the right wing on a partial two-on-one, Kunitz saucers a pass to Maatta deep on the right wing. Maatta jabs a quick one-timer off the cross bar.
7:02: Off a neutral zone faceoff, Engelland and Tom Sestito drop the gloves. They size each other up briefly then lockup. They mostly throw rabbit punches from in tight. Engelland lands a few rights before Sestito wrestles him to the ice.
6:10: Yikes. The Canucks take a lead on a fluky goal. Edler airmails a slapper at the cage from the near the red line. Fleury sort of hops up to stop it with his chest. The puck pops up over his head and bounces into the net as Fleury dives back hoping to stop it. What an awful goal for Fleury to allow. Shades of Tom Fitzgerald against Tom Barrasso in 1996. Kevin Bieksa and Henrik Sedin get assists. Canucks 1-0.
4:16: The Penguins get it back. Off a rush up the ice, Dupuis cranks a slapper from the right circle. Luongo punches it away with his glove hand. But allows a rebound. After Henrik Sedin fails to handle the rebound, it rolls around a bit before Crosby is able to swat it into the cage by Luongo's glove hand. A nice garbage goal. Dupuis and Kunitz get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Canucks 1, Penguins 1.
3:17: The Penguins get another power play as Schroeder holds Glass along the right wing wall. Crosby, Malkin, Maatta, Martin and Kunitz take the ice.
3:08: A one-timer by Niskanen from the right point is blocked in front.
1:17: The Schroeder minor expires with little threat from the Penguins.
0:55: David Booth snaps off a wrister from above the right circle. Fleury steers it away with his blocker.
0:11: Garrison flings a wrister from the right point over the cage.
0:00: End of period. Canucks 1, Penguins 1.
-That was a pretty quick period of hockey. There was a lot of pace to the play and relatively few whistles. Hopefully the rest of the game is like that.
-Edler's goal was inexcusable for Fleury but it's forgivable. Every goaltender allows one like that every once in a while.
-The Penguins power play continues to look flat.
-The Sedin-Sedin-Kesler line showed a little chemistry that period and looked dangerous at times.
-Tanner Glass is having another strong game so far. He's thrown a few hits, blocked a handful of shots and even drew a penalty.
-The Canucks control shots on net, 15-5.
-The Canucks have a 21-18 edge in attempted shots.
-Higgins leads the game with three shots.
-None of the Penguins have more than one shot.
-Crosby leads the game with 8:06 of ice time.
-Edler leads the game with 7:58 of ice time.
-Faceoffs are even, 7-7 (50 percent).
-Crosby is 4 for 8 (50 percent).
-Henrik Sedin and Richardson are each 2 for 3 (67 percent).
-Booth and Glass each lead the game with two blocked shots.
-Glass' effort was clearly inspired by his IceTime cover appearance:
18:19: Bieksa snaps off a wrister from the right half wall which hits off a stick and deflects on net. Fleury fights it off.
16:43: Robert Bortuzzo flings a wrister from the right point. Luongo knocks it dead and covers.
15:39: Hanseon lifts a wrister on net from the right half wall. Fleury gloves it.
15:25: The Canucks get a power play as Malkin is called for tripping Mike Santorelli. Crosby, Orpik,Adams and Martin take the ice.
15:08: Garrison flings a wrister through traffic from center point. Fleury stops the initial shot. Daniel Sedin is there to the left of the net for the rebound but can't get a clean handle on it.
13:25: The Malkin minor is killed with minimal threat from the Canucks.
12:52: The Canucks are nabbed for having too many men on the ice. Dale Weise will serve the minor. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Niskanen and Letang take the ice.
12:13: A partial slapper by Martin from the center point is blocked.
12:04: Another goal from behind the net. Malkin controls the puck behind the Vancouver cage, looks up and snaps off a pass to below the right circle. Kunitz gets position on Edler and immediately rips a one-timer off the right arm of Luongo and into the cage. What a play. Malkin and Crosby get assists. Malkin's assist ties him with Syl Apps, Jr. for fifth place on the team's all-time assist list. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 2-1.
10:20: Hansen races up the right wing and behind the Penguins' net. He tries to jam in a forehand wraparound from the left of the cage but loses the puck. The puck slides out to Higgins in the right circle. He rips a wrister by the glove hand of a stretched-out Fleury and into the cage which was dislodged by Santorelli. Officials immediately signal no goal.
9:55: Santorelli pumps a slapper on net from inside the Penguins' blue line. Fleury steers it away.
9:28: Jokinen flings a wrister from the left wing on net. Luongo fights it off.
8:08: Attendance is announced as 18,657. It is the team's 291st consecutive sell-out.
7:29: Cutting in side on Edler on the right wing, Malkin flings a wrister from the right circle. Luongo fight sit off.
7:16: The Canucks cash in on a broken play. Weise carry the puck into the offensive zone on the right wing he lave a drop pass for Bieksa who loses the puck. After Weise fights off a check from Martin, he deals a pass to Richardson all alone on the right wing. Richards flings a one-timer by the glove hand of a stretched out Fleury to tie the game. That was just an odd play. Martin and Orpik did not seem to read the play well. Weise and Bieksa get assists. Canucks 2, Penguins 2.
6:03: Fleury nearly gives up another leaky goal. Hansen goes deep on the right wing and snaps off a low wrister. Daniel Sedin follows up on the rebound and chips it by Fleury. It squirts through and dances along the goal line. Bortuzzo uses his long reach to clear the puck out of danger. Fleury owes Bortuzzo a beer.
4:34: Off some tic-tac-toe passing, Niskanen pounds a slapper from above the left circle. Luongo fights it off.
2:30: Malkin is taking a shift with Adams and the great Joe Vitale.
2:05: The great Joe Vitale flies in on a forecheck and knocks former pseudo Penguin Dan Hamhuis. Hamhuis loses the puck.
1:53: Off a little feed by Malkin, the great Joe Vitale rips a wrister from the right circle which Luongo kicks out.
1:18: Conner hustles up the right wing and chucks a wrister on net. Luongo eats it up. Glass and and Schroeder collide and Schroder hits the ice. He slowly recovers to his skates and heads back to the dressing room.
0:00: End of period. Canucks 2, Penguins 2.
-There was more of the same that period. Plenty of skating and plenty of offensive chances.
-The Penguins' power play was able to take advantage of that extra space behind the net and cashed in.
-This hasn't been Fleury's sharpest game of the season. He needs to clean a few mistakes up.
-The Canucks have a 28-11 lead in shots on net.
-The Canucks have a 39-31 lead in attempted shots.
-Kunitz leads the game with four shots.
-Richardson, Kesler, Higgins, Hansen and Schroeder each lead the Canucks with three shots.
-Martin leads the game with 16:45 of ice time.
-Kesler leads the Canucks with 15:55.
-The Canucks have a 17-14 edge in faceoffs (55 percent).
-Santorelli is 6 for 9 (67 percent).
-Crosby is 9 for 18 (50 percent).
-Edler and Brandon Sutter each lead the game with three blocked shots.
18:25: Hansen lifts a wrister from the right circle which bounces off Fleury's lid.
17:59: Sutter loops around the cage and deals a pass to Glass in the right circle. Glass leans down and puts a one-timer on net. Luongo kicks it out.
16:23: Henrik Sedin golfs a slapper from the right point. Fleury eats it up.
15:55: Malkin pushes the puck up the right wing and tries to chip the puck around Garrison. Garrison trips him up. That's two minutes. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Martin and Niskanen take the ice.
15:18: Malkin tries to dance in off the right wing but has his wrister blocked by a sliding Hamhuis.
15:02: Shorthanded, Daniel Sedin pumps a slapper on net from the right circle. Fleury fights it off and tries to poke check the puck away. Henrik Sedin follows up on it and flings a wrister wide on the near side.
14:46: Off a pass by Kunitz, Matta puts a quick slapper on net from the right point. Luongo eats it up.
14:06: Jokinen sneaks a pass from the right half wall through traffic to the slot. Sutter is there but can't get a clean handle on the puck.
13:55: The Garrison minor is killed with minimal threat from the Penguins.
13:17: Taking a pass on the right point, Bieksa drives a big slapper wide to the far side.
12:11: Bortuzzo has a wrister from the right circle blocked by Garrison.
11:50: Martin makes a nice play to keep a puck in the offensive zone at the right point and drives a slapper at the cage. It hit soff the skate of Edler and deflects on net. Luongo is able to keep it out.
10:16: With Santorelli hot on his tail, Maatta wheels around in the Penguins' right wing corner and deals a little pass to Bortuzzo in the slot to get the puck out of danger.
9:33: Dupuis tries to control a puck in front of the Vancouver bench. He spins and dumps it into the Vancouver zone. As he does that, he stumbles a bit and Kassian kind of clobbers him from behind and dives him into the boards head first. A scrum develops. Play is halted. Dupuis eventually recovers to his skates and skates towards his bench. No penalties.
8:50: Kesler snaps off a wrister from the right circle. Fleury snags it.
7:41: Booth has a chance from the slot but swats a slapper wide to the left of the net.
7:10: The Canucks take a lead. Bieksa controls a puck at the right point and lobs a wrister from the right point. it sails through traffic and is re-directed by Kassian positioned in front of the blue paint. Kassian directs the puck under the blocker of Fleury on the far side. It's a brilliant play by Kassian which gives his team a lead. Booth and Bieska get assists. Canucks 3-2.
6:48: Olli Maatta to the rescue. On a rush to the Vancouver zone, Crosby deals a pass off the right wing to Kunitz on the left wing. Kunitz rips a wrister which Luongo initially stops. Maatta is in deep and drive the slot. He is able to jab the rebound by the blocker of Luongo to tie the game. What a heads up play by Maatta. He's doing everything he can to prove to management he blongs at the nHL. It's his first career goal. Kunitz and Crosby each get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Canucks 3, Penguins 3.
5:36: Bieksa pounds a slapper from the right point wide on the near side.
5:14: Off a drop pass by Dupuis, Malkin lifts a wrister to the far side. Luongo's blocker fights it off.
4:48: Taking a pass from Dupuis Crosby lifts a wrister from the right circle. Luongo punches it away but loses his stick in the process.
2:10: Off a pass from Dupuis in the neutral zone, Crosby races into the offensive zone and drives a slapper from the slot wide to the left of the cage.
1:24: Oh wow! Penalty shot! Hamhuis fumbles a puck at the left point of the Penguins' zone. Dupuis chips it up to the neutral zone and chases it down. As Chris Tanev skate over to pressure Dupuis at the Vancovuer blue line, Dupuis dives and swats the puck to the slot. Sutter collects it and attacks the net. Tanev dives for a poke check but knocks over Sutter who crashes into Luongo. An official points at center ice to signal a penalty shot. Sutter takes the puck, dives the net and lifts a wrister. Luongo makes the easy but clutch glove save.
1:15: Spinning off a check, Malkin rips a wrister on net from the left circle. Luongo eats it up.
0:40: Higgins tries to collects a loose puck in the air at his own blue line but Martin slams him to the ice with a shoulder check to the back.
0:14: Hansen tries to dangle in off the right wing but is knocked off the puck by a stiff check from Orpik.
0:00: End of period. Canucks 3, Penguins 3.
-The Canucks have a 37-25 lead in shots on net.
4:49: Daniel Sedin knocks Oprik over in the left wing corner of the Penguins' zone from behind. No penalty.
3:51: Hamhuis pounds a slappef from above the left circle. Fleury fights it off. Higgins has a chance in the slot with the rebound but Niskanen ties up his stick. Malkin skates the puck out of danger. Huge play by Niskanen.
2:24: Daniel Sedin sneaks a tricky wrister from the left circle on net. Fleury fends it off.
1:47: Paul Martin appears to get away with a hold on Henrik Sedin behind the Pengins' cage.
1:33: Niskanen strikes slapper from the right point. Luongo fights it off despite traffick
1:18: Rob Scuderi chips a little wrister from the right half wall. Luongo Eats it up.
0:36: Hamhuis enters the offensive zone and drives a slapper from the slot. Fleury eats it up.
0:13: Crosby tries to fling a backhanded wraparound from the left of the cage but misses the net.
0:00: End of period. Canucks 3, Penguins 3.
-Jokinen is up first. He veers to the right, levels out and shoots forehand. Luongo kicks it out with his right leg.
-Santorelli attacks the net down the slot. He goes five hole but Fleury closes the gates.
-Crosby veers a little it to the right, attacks the net and shoots five hole. Luongo says no.
-Edler take a big rush form his own zone befoe he picks up the puck. He glides in with it on his backhand, goes forehand and shoots. Fleury kicks it out.
-Malkin takes the puck, veers to the right, level out, shows forehand then goes to his backhand. he completely fakes out Luongo and calmly tucks in a backhander by Luongo's glove. Penguins 1-0.
-Kesler must score. He comes in on net from the left wing, attacks the net and shoots forehand. Fleury kicks it out. The "Woo-Hoo" song is played. End of shootout. Penguins 1, Canucks 0. End of game. Penguins 4, Canucks 3.
-The best way to describe this game is sloppy but entertaining. There were a lot of hallmarks of an afternoon game. Missed passes, leaky goals, wild shots and a lack of focus. But it ended up being a pretty entertaining contest, especially late.
-Marc-Andre Fleury showed some resolved. After biffing badly on the long-range goal by Alexander Edler, he settled down and came through with some clutch saves, especially in the shootout.
-We're still sticking with our opinion that Olli Maatta should be returned to juniors at the end of the season... but it's getting hard to keep that conviction. Just when you think he's done everything he can to stay at this level, he does something more. Tonight, he came through with a huge game-tying goal by crashing the net. Asset management aside, there is no reason to send him back to juniors at the moment.
-Another ho-hum three point effort by Sidney Crosby. He entered the game with a four point lead in the scoring race over Henrik Sedin. Sixty-five minutes-plus later, he increased that lead to six points. Sidney Crosby is quietly putting together a dominant season.
-His partner in crime, Chris Kunitz also came through with a three point effort. At this rate, it's news when the Kunitz-Crosby-Pascal Dupuis line doesn't score.
-Chris Conner made his season debut and was half-way decent. He was involved in a few scoring chances and created a few issues for Vancouver with his speed. He had 12:14 of ice time on 15 shifts and recorded one shot on net.
-Deryk Engelland's second go as a right winger was a little less successful. Unlike Thursday, he was not involved in any scoring chances. He had 4:34 of ice time on seven shifts and had no shots.
-The Penguins' power play looked really good on its one successful conversion and pretty lousy on the three it was blanked. Amazing how that works.
-The Penguins only had to kill on power play by Vancouver. That certainly helped their case today.
-Even with James Neal and Kris Letang injured, the Penguins were still able to trot out some impressive skill in the shootout with Crosby, Jussi Jokinen and Evgeni Malkin.
-Tanner Glass had a pretty inspired effort against his former team. On 16 shifts, he had 12:42 of ice time, one shot, four blocked shots and drew a penalty.
-The Sedin twins were awfully quiet today, especially in comparison to Crosby. They created few offensive chances but only Henrik Sedin recorded an assist and that was a secondary helper on Edler's fluky goal.
-We're not sure if this is a regular part of their attack, but the Canucks were not afraid to shoot it from the point, especially after the Edler goal. They tried to generate a lot from the point today.
-There was no update on Jordan Schroeder who left the game late in the second period due to an undisclosed ailment.
-The Canucks led in shots on net, 39-28.
-The Canucks had a 60-57 edge in attempted shots.
-Kunitz and Jannik Hansen each led the game with five shots.
-Paul Martin led the game with 28:12.
-Daniel Sedin led the Canucks with 24:55.
-The Penguins controlled faceoffs, 31-24 (56 percent).
-Crosby was 14 for 28 (50 percent).
-Santorelli was 8 for 14 (57 percent).
-Glass, Maatta and Edler each led the game with four blocked shots.
-Maatta scored his first career goal and became the 464th player to score a regular season goal for the franchise.
-Fleury leads the league with seven wins.
-Crosby extended a scoring streak to eight games.
-Kunitz (221) passed up Aleksey Morozov (219) for 35th place on the franchise's all-time scoring list.