NHL

Pens v Sens… Live at the CONSOL Energy Center…

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As usual I am live at the CONSOL Energy Center for tonight’s match-up between the Ottawa Senators and your Pittsburgh Penguins. I am still in the process of trying to warm up, as it was raining a bit on my way into the building this evening… Unfortunately a day like today doesn’t dovetail with my self imposed ban on carrying an umbrella. Not sure why I refuse to carry one, but it seems that most guys I know are the same way. Kudos to those of you who had one in fist en route to the arena tonight…

On to tonight’s game…

First of all, let me be the first to tell you that it is WEIRD seeing Sergei Gonchar warming up on a sheet of ice with the Penguins, but wearing the sweater of the other team. It took me a moment to notice him, but once I did I couldn’t look away. It was like seeing footage of a Sasquatch or something. Just such a wild sight to behold. Sarge hasn’t necessarily gotten off to thhttp://fromthepoint.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpe start that he wanted to this season and I get the feeling that tonight could be the night that he adds to his 1 A and -1 rating. Just a vibe I got in watching him… might want to prove that he is worth the money and the years that he got from the Sens.

Sarge isn’t the only one that hasn’t gotten off to the start that they wanted too this year, as the Senators as a whole have been a bit of a disappointment. They have posted a 1-3-1 record and to say that they limped out of the gate would be an understatement. Their offense has been disjointed and defense hasn’t lived up to expectations… they have also lost Pascal Leclaire to injury, which again makes that deal look horrible. Unfortunately he has been a bust since coming over from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

All of this isn’t to say that all is well in Penguinland, though the flightless Birds have shown signs of getting the house in order. They have quietly won 3 of 4 and look to be getting their offense rolling. Unfortunately there is still a cloud hanging over the team in the form of a goaltending controversy. Though it isn’t a controversy in the traditional sense, it is quickly becoming the chief head scratcher to those around the league. Evidence of that came in the form of a phone call I received from a media crony in Canada asking “what the (expletive) is going on with that situation??” Hot hand or not, most around the league can’t believe that Dan Bylsma hasn’t gone back to Marc Andre Fleury as of yet.

Tonight’s goaltender was supposed to be a game time decision, though most believed it was going to be Johnson from the earliest moments.

We shall see how things play out between these two teams that are still trying to work out the kinks during the early moments of this season… we are roughly 1:40 from face-off here in Pittsburgh and I will be bringing you all of the action, hi-jinx, and hullabaloo.

Johnson just came down the runwayy and is in the net for the Birds… more as it happens…

* * * * *

Tyler Kennedy just stole a puck in the offensive zone from Erik Karlsson… Sergei Gonchar was pressured and dumped the puck across to the youngster. TK pressured him and came away with it, creating a mini breakaway. He held the puck for what seemed an eternity, but wasn’t able to beat the Sens Brian Elliott.

* * * * *

The Penguins have seemingly been able to create turnovers at an alarming rate over the past 3 or 4 games…unfortunately they aren’t able to do much with them. Evgeni Malkin just took a puck from the Senators in the neutral zone and broke down the left wing, but shot high over the net as he tried to pick the top right corner.

* * * * *

Peter Regin was just whistled for interference. How will that Pens PP react tonight??

* * * * *

Mark Letestu produced the Penguins best scoring chance with the extra man. He got into a one on one situation with the goalie, but could not beat Elliott. Moments after the Penguins PP ended, Andrew Hutchinson took a cross-checking penalty of his own.

The Penguins looked good in killing the Ottawa power play and even created a couple scoring chances while working the PK.

* * * * *

The Senators put themselves back down a man by getting caught with too many men on the ice. The Penguins unleashed a flurry of shots against Elliott, but the youngster managed to keep the puck out of the net. That is until Mark Letestu got himself a chance in the high slot… Letestu took a pass from Mike Comrie and fired it into the top right corner, giving the Penguins a 1-0 lead…

* * * * *

The Penguins just showed a video montage of Sergei Gonchar’s greatest Penguins highlights… to Sammy Haggar’s “I Can’t Drive 55,” Sarge received a warm welcome from the Penguins faithful and acknowledged the ovation by raising his stick and then tapping the boards…

* * * * *

Now this is the Penguins power play that we all thought that we were going to see coming into the season. They are moving the puck and creating opportunities from all over the ice. This time Evgeni Malkin started the play… dropped the puck to Crosby as he came into the zone. Crosby tried to shoot, had it blocked right to Alex Goligoski’s stick. Go Go shot the puck, just missing the post and having it ricochet off the end boards and right to Crosby who buried it behind Elliott from a sharp angle.

2-0 Penguins…

* * * * *

The Penguins have taken a 3-0 lead on a goal by Evgeni Malkin. Geno saw a puck come loose to the right of Brian Elliott and dove forward getting his twig on it and knocking it in. Elliott couldn’t get to the post quick enough…

3-0 Penguins…

Mike Comrie very quietly has 3 assists in two games for the Penguins.

* * * * *

I have long said that if the Penguins were to keep Deryk Engelland up with the parent squad full time they would no longer need Eric Godard, thus opening up some salary cap space. I am sticking to that adage as he again showed that he could go with the any of the heavyweights in the league. Tonight he went toe to toe with Chris Neil and held his own for close to a minute and a half. They jockeyed for position and threw blows the entire time…

* * * * *

One period in the books here in Pittsburgh and we might have just witnessed the team’s finest period of the season… at least on home ice. Their passes were crisp, they were creating opportunities and shooting the puck from all over the ice. They also were great with the man advantage, something that we haven’t been able to say to this point of the season.

The Penguins hold the advantage in shots 17-12 and are leading on the scoreboard 3-0. If the Islanders helped the Penguins learn to win in the CONSOL Energy Center, the Sens are showing them that they can do so consistently… mind you, there is a lot of time left, but they are well on their way here tonight.

* * * * *

Geno Malkin and Tyler Kennedy are tied for the game high in shots with 4… Sidney Crosby only has 1, but he made it a good one in scoring his 4th goal of the season.

* * * * *

The Senators are on the board… they got a goal from none other than Penguins killer Daniel Alfredsson. No matter what goes down when these two teams play, it seems that he manages to get on the board.

He got an open shot and blew it over Brent Johnson’s left shoulder to make this a 3-1 affair…

3-1 Penguins…

Ironically Sergei Gonchar and Alex Kovalev got the assists…

* * * * *

Alex Kovalev pulled one of his famous extend-a-shifts and the Penguins took advantage by scoring their fourth goal of the game. The birds got the puck to net and Pascal Dupuis deflected it past Brian Elliott.

Moments later Kris Letang got an open shot from the point. As he released it Jarkko Ruutu got a stick on the puck and deflected it up into the top corner of the Sens. Elliott tried to argue the merits of the goal, hoping for a high stick or something, but it stood and he was given the hook.

5-1 Penguins…

Robin Lehner now in goal for the Sens…

* * * * *

Brent Johnson took a blast off of the face and it literally rattled his cage. The Penguins keeper needed a few minutes to compose himself…

* * * * *

18,101 in the house tonight to witness the Pens and Sens… that makes 171 sell outs in a row for the Penguins…

* * * * *

The Penguins have been controlling play throughout and have really put together one of their finest outings of the season. It has been refreshing to watch them move the puck in all three zones. Break the puck out without issue and to see them shooting from all over the ice.

I realize that everyone has been touting Alex Goligoski based on his quick start on the scoresheet, however this has been his best game top to bottom. He is making smart plays with the puck, he is shooting when given the opportunity and looking every bit the the two-way force the Penguins hope he can be…

* * * * *

The Senators are going to get a crack with the extra man as Andrew Hutchinson was called for high sticking… Evgeni Malkin dumped the puck into the Sens goal that had been vacated in favor of the extra attacker during the delayed penalty… the move earned cheers from the building…

* * * * *

The Penguins will be short handed for 3 minutes to start the third period. It will be interesting to see if they can hold off a PP unit led by Sarge, Kovalev and Afredsson… though the Penguins have had the better of the chances all night, this will be a test. It will determine if the Sens can make a comeback or not…  (notes from the desk of the obvious)

* * * * *

The Penguins came out strong on the penalty kill and Max Talbot got a break against Sergei Gonchar. Sarge couldn’t keep up and ended up hooking Talbot as he broke past him and into the offensive zone. 4 on 4 for the remainder of the Sens PP. Penguins will have a brief 25 second advantage…

* * * * *

Chris Campoli get the Sens second goal of the evening on a slapper from the left circle. Jason Spezza whiffed on a shot, allowing it to slid right into Campoli’s wheel house…  CC skated into it and fired it to the far post past Brent Johnson…

5-2… Penguins…

* * * * *

All hell starting to break loose as Mike Rupp and Matt Carkner went to blows over an encounter with Sidney Crosby… the fight left something to be desired, but they tried… Then Jarkko Ruutu had Crosby by the throat as the two spit venomous words at one another…

* * * * *

Some confusion at the blue line for the Penguins allowed Mike Fisher to get behind the defense on a shorthanded break away. He broke in on Johnson, but the Penguins tender was able to get a handle on the puck before Fisher could get much going…

Upon further review… Johnson got a poke check on the puck and knocked it away from Fisher before he could make his move…

* * * * *

Brent Johnson is providing the team with something that MAF didn’t in the early going… huge saves when there is a break down in front of him. That is probably the key difference betweenn what the two goaltenders are bringing to the table. MAF will get back to doing that, but it wasn’t there in the first few games…

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About Brian Metzer

Profile photo of Brian Metzer

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Brian Metzer has been covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and National Hockey League since 2004. He is the host of Penguins Live Weekly, a show that airs Saturday mornings on 105.9 the X and iHeart Radio. He serves as the Pittsburgh Penguins correspondent for NHL Network Radio on SiriusXM, and is the NHL and Penguins correspondent for the Beaver County Times. Metzer is also a contributing writer for NHL.com and is the primary contributor for this site www.fromthepoint.com.

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3 Comments

  1. KS20

    October 18, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    And not one fancy touch/drop pass to be seen!

    About freakin’ time!

  2. 95Escort!

    October 18, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Pens showing what they can do tonight! Great seeing the PP finally clicking… I want to see the Flower back in there, but Johnny is playing great!

  3. Profile photo of Brian Metzer

    Brian Metzer

    October 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    Exactly KS20! Might have tried to get cute a couple times on the one PP, but none of that push and drop stuff going on. All crisp passes tonight…