Here’s the thing with the Penguins right now. They have six of the same player: Adams, Harry Z, Vitale, Glass, Conner, and Kobasew. While it isn't the greatest thing to watch, you know what you are getting. They limit the mistakes, they aren't horribly unreliable, and they can hang with low-end teams like the Canes. Those six players give the big boys some rest so those big boys can come out and win the game.
And that is what happened tonight. Neal, Crosby, Kunitz, and Jokinen combined for 7 points, and Neal won the game in OT. Simple formula, and it is just racking up the points. The Pens are one of those hot rollers on a craps table right now. You have no clue how they are doing it; you just have to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Marc-Andre Fleury is part of the equation, as well. He’s playing the best hockey of his career. Maybe Gilles Meloche sucked.
And how sad are the Hurricanes? Even more so, what has happened to Jordan Staal? Couldn't even tell you if he played. Remember the large faction of Penguin fans and select media members that were of the opinion that the Pens should keep Staal over Malkin? Yikes.
Joe Vitale on the first line was the nightmare after Christmas. Deryk Engelland was in the lineup for some reason. It was good to see Orpik back. Tanner Glass was also back in the lineup. Not sure how someone gets excited about that, but whatever.
Kobasew went off, so the Pens had an early kill. Felt like the Canes were gonna score any second, but they couldn’t do it. The Canes kept it up for pretty much the whole period. Pens had a couple looks, but it was tough sledding.
Intent to blow
There was an intent-to-blow to-do late in the period, and the Pens came up empty. It was after a Canes D-man made a goal-saving stop after a puck got behind goalie Justin Peters. The puck then got lost and then ended up in the net. The ref said no goal because of an intent to blow. Hard to argue, really.
The Pens survived the first. No, they didn’t. Sekera scored. 1-0.
Rough D by Joe Vitale. Lost his point. Huge mistake. But he is a center playing wing and he is Joe Vitale on the first line.
The first 30 seconds of the second was like the first 5 minutes of Armageddon.
A freak bounce led to Crosby all alone in front of Peters. A backhander later, and it was tied 1-1.
ROOT Sports should set up some kind of alert sound that plays when Crosby is on the ice so you can go back to paying attention to the game.
The Pens didn't enjoy the tie very long.
14 seconds later, Nathan Gerbe got it right back after the Pens couldn’t exit the zone. 2-1.
Not the greatest night for Niskanen and Maatta.
The rest of the period was well-played. No penalties and no goals. Both teams had chances. Both goalies made some saves and got help from the posts.
The Penguins were within striking distance despite having almost no second line at all.
About two minutes in, the Canes almost scored. Then Chris Conner did this to Ryan Murphy…
Great move, but holy shit. Justin Peters, what a weak, weak goal. 2-2.
In true Justin Peters fashion, he collapsed. About 12 minutes later, Engo pushed one to the net. It went in. 3-2.
Joe Vitale was in front of the net, he didn't really do anything to help. So whatever.
The question now was going to be, could the Pens hold the lead? The answer: no. James Neal had a ton of chances to get the insurance goal, but he couldn't find the back of the net.
All of a sudden, the Canes came on hard with two minutes to go. Some guy threw a puck in front of the net. It hit Maatta.
3-3. Maatta looked like he was going to throw up.
Neal and Jokinen were easily the Penguins’ best forwards in this one. So Bylsma rolled the dice and put them out together. A minute in, it paid off. Neal took a really nice pass from Jokinen. Neal would up and took a little bit off of it. It pooped through Peters.
You know what woman and this guy were chirping all game. She seems to really be enjoying it.
Game. Pens win 4-3.
– Pics: AP/Getty