RECAP: GAME THREE. 28.6. PENS LOSE.

Can't really find the perfect word to describe this loss.

Terrible.
Stupid.
Disappointing.
Frustrating.

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It's terrible because the Pens went from being up 3 games to none to this now potentially becoming a dogfight.

It's stupid because there's no way in Hell you can let a team score a shorthanded goal late to tie it in the final minute, even with the goalie pulled to make it a 5-on-5.

It's disappointing because everyone thought the Isles series was a reminder to the Pens to never let their foot off the gas.

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And it's frustrating because Craig Anderson stole this game. Alfreddson's tying goal with under 30 seconds remaining will justifiably be the talk of the town for the next couple days, but the Pens had a total of 87 minutes and 39 seconds to get another one past Anderson, and they just couldn't do it. For a team that has scored 3 or more goals in every game this post-season, they needed that one extra goal somewhere, somehow, and couldn't find it. It's up to the elite set of forwards to find the net one more time. It's been a part of the Pens' recipe for success all season, and when you're missing an ingredient, your dish is gonna taste like shit.

It wasn't for lack of trying; Craig Anderson was just lights-out. This was a goaltending duel the whole way through, with Vokoun showing that he's still nowhere near ready to give the net back to Marc-Andre Fleury. And that's the best takeaway from this game. Vokoun did everything you could ask of him.

Game 4 isn't until Wednesday night, but there's no soul-searching to be done. The Pens played arguably their best game of the playoffs. If Letang is a couple feet to his left and the pass to Alfredsson is deflected away, then everyone is snapping each other in the ass with wet towels until the Conference Finals.

The narrative for this game on the day after is Craig Anderson eliminating the Pens' offense. Hopefully the term "Halak'd" doesn't become a thing. The narrative for this game if the Pens lose this series, however… Yikes.

Recap:

 

 

FIRST PERIOD

Everything was happening in the first period. The Sens came out of the gate with a great chance after a Karlsson Pele play. But then the Pens came storming back and ended up getting a ton of looks at Anderson early.

After some shit, Chris Phillips went off for holding Craig Adams.

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Guess what continued happening: Craig Anderson being in your mouth. Big kill for the Senators.

The Senators, meanwhile, used that PK for some momentum. Vokoun started seeing some shots and stopped all of them. Then the Pens started pushing back. Just some great action all over the ice — big hits, scoring chances, fast pace. Gonch chose this time of the period to destroy James Neal.

Cory Conacher thought he had a goal later in the period, but he sucks.

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Tanner Glass went off for a penalty because the refs were jammed about Spezza returning. The Sens had to score on that PP, and they got multiple chances. Some of it was luck on the Pens' part, some of it was sound penalty killing, but the Pens killed it off.

Malkin decided to be lazy late in the period and play to the horn. It resulted in Methot taking him down, and the Pens looking at a PP to start the second and Malkin looking at the net cam.

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SECOND PERIOD

Crosby had a golden chance early on the PP. Anderson said f that. Conacher went off to serve a too-many-men, giving the Pens a 5-on-3.

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But the 5-on-3 gave Anderson a chance to go deeper than the Haitian. Malkin had a wide-open slapshot, and Anderson caught it in his mouth. Mr. Anderson killed it all off by himself pretty much.

The Sens were still struggling to get the same chances that the Pens were getting.

And then the penalties started coming. Zach Smith went off for jobbing Geno, but the Pens couldn't do anything with that. The Sens got their own chance when Crosby went off for a high stick, but nope.

It went 4-on-4 for a while when Murray took down Karlsson, with Karlsson making sure the officials saw it. Murray went off with some kind of injury, so Iginla served his penalty.

Chris Neil was running around being a dick, and he had a couple of close encounters with The Big Unit.

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Kyle Turris deked everyone and got in on Vokoun but missed the net. That was another huge part of this game: the Sens missing the net. They probably had 7 to 10 amazing looks at Vokoun but kept hitting the glass with them.

Credit the Pens' goal to Matt Cooke. Methot's hit on Cooke when they entered the zone got the Sens excited. Erik Karlsson decided to be a hero and take a run at Cooke. Only problem was he completely missed and fell. Cooke trololololed and fed TK in the slot while Karlsson was still probably trying to buy a call.

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TK job on Anderson.TK's celebration was bizarre. 1-0.

 

THIRD PERIOD

The Sens' season was on the line pretty much, so they were gonna back up the truck on Vokoun and unload everything they had. The Sens were still missing the net on great chances, though. The Pens would weather the storm then head back the other way looking for the insurance marker. And so it went for the first half of the third.

Then it got interesting when the refs missed a Cooke high stick that connected with Karlsson's face. Or maybe they saw it and Karlsson's embellishment in the first period didn't help him out.

The Senators were coming in waves.

Vokoun had a glorious save on Neil, although an actual NHL player puts that home.

Tick tick tick. That was the sound of the Sens' season running out, and the Pens had employed a trap that was a thing of beauty. The puck possession was a strategic game of keep-away.

Some more ticks off the clock, and the Sens found themselves with under 2 minutes left to do something. That "something" turned out to be Karlsson breaking Cooke's stick in half, which led to this sequence:

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The Pens had a power play, and everything was fine and dandy. The Sens couldn't get Anderson off the ice, but then they did, and this happened:

1-1.

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Holy Shit. Can't Do That.

A lot of the questions to answer.

– It was Sutter-Malkin-Kunitz, Letang-Martin. Where was Crosby?
– Actually, fuck that question. Bylsma had to have known it was gonna go to a 5-on-5. Why not just act like it instead of rolling out a PP unit?
– Dejan observed Chris Kunitz's effort, or lack thereof, on the play. Not sure what Kunitz was supposed to do, though. He's basically the "1" in a 1-4 delay. Pens were playing safe and still got railed.
– Looks like Alfie was Malkin's guy.

The Pens still had a power play to work with, and it felt like they could come back and scored some backbreaker, but it wasn't meant to be in regulation.

OVERTIME

In the first OT, Evgeni Malkin was the Pens' best player. Unfortunately, Craig Anderson continued to be the Sens' best player. The two paths met up early in OT, as Anderson made a left-pad save after Malkin made a cut through the Sens' defense. Would have been one of the great goals of all time.

The Pens were throwing everything at Anderson early and often in the first OT. Basically Craig Anderson not only stole the game here, he robbed it at gunpoint, took all of its clothes, and emptied its bank account.

At the other end, Tomas Vokoun wasn't tested until midway through when the Sens started getting chances. After getting outshot pretty badly, the Sens fired everything at Vokoun.

The Pens' best chance came late when Crosby found Dupes on a cross-ice pass as the Pens entered the zone. HIT THE POST WITH THE SHOT.

It was starting to feel like a Pens win just wasn't in the cards.
Overall it was a wide-open OT. Just solid goaltending really.

DOUBLE OVERTIME

The dreaded OT power play worked its way into this one. The Penguins were up first. Matt Cooke drew a penalty on Chris Phillips. The power play can win or lose a game. It lost this game for the Pens. The Pens went 0 for 6 in the game, and this power play was garbage. Anderson was seeing beach balls, etc.

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The even-up call loomed. It almost happened when Chris Neil got slammed into the boards by Brooks Orpik. But then everyone realized it was Chris Neil, so nobody cared.

The Sens got their chance when Niskanen got tangled up with some guy. Refs had to make the call. That power play wasn't too dangerous, but it got some momentum rolling the Sens' way.

Shortly after the power play, they made this a series. It was a fire drill in front of Vokoun, and Eaton lost his stick. As the puck made its way around, Eaton made the split-second decision to grab his stick.

In that split second, Colin Greening got the position he needed.

A rebound popped out.

Eaton was a second off.

Greening.

Game.

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MISCELLANEOUS

– Matt Niskanen had his best game of the playoffs, hands down.
– Malkin was amazing in the overtimes.
– How many dives did Karlsson not get called for? Holy shit. Such an embarrassing display. 

– There won't be any anger over this game if the Pens win the series. But if they don't win the series? Could be a defining mistake.

– The Paul MacLean Face when the Sens get called for a penalty has already become our favorite thing about this series.

– The game-tying goal is reminiscent of Patrick Kane's goal in Game 5 against the Predators years ago:


 

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