Right before Sidney Crosby suffered his concussion, he was undoubtedly playing the best hockey we've ever seen him play. Then he was gone from the game for the better part of two years. It's taken Crosby 25 games to get back to where he was. There were countless "Jesus, did you see what Crosby just did" moments in this game. There was just something about his performance in this one that reminded us of the pre-concussion Sid. What's scary is that he was already leading the league in points before this.
But it wasn't just Crosby. The offense continued to roll with goals from James Neal and Pascal Dupuis. Paul Martin got credit for a goal that originally looked like Beau Bennett's.
This was one of the most entertaining games of the season. Another one that immediately comes to mind is that game in Winnipeg early in the season. It's just great hockey. The score didn't get out of hand. Every player on the ice had the chance to be the hero. It was great. It has us yearning for a Pens-Leafs playoff series.
Overall, the Pens come away with two points, which masks the continuing trend of the Pens sitting back and waiting for the opponent to tie the game. It is what it is.
Islanders in 8 minutes.
Recap (It is loaded with GIFs):
ROOT was talking about how good Kunitz is with his feet:
Pens wasted no time whatsoever. James Neal found a puck in the slot 30 seconds in. Reimer was clueless. 1-0.
Game settled in for the first five minutes. The Pens second line was the best line in the building. Bennett had a glorious chance in front, but Reimer got his pad on it. That second line just feels good right now. BB gaining more and more confidence every game.
Crosby was blistering out of the gate. He nearly made it 2-0 but missed wide.
HNIC had an iso cam on Phaneuf-Crosby. It was great theater.
Everything was going the Pens' way until Bennett took a high-sticking penalty.
It was the only mistake the son of a bitch made all night, and it cost the Pens.
Think about this. The Flyers actually traded James van Riemsdyk for Luke Schenn. Yikes.
JVR was a pest all night. He scored, as the Leafs made quick work of the Pens PK. 1-1
The Pens answered. Letang went into War Movies mode and flew through the neutral zone. He got the puck to the net, but Reimer had trouble with it. Letang somehow got to the puck and rang a shot off the post. The puck when right to Crosby's stick. 87 phoned home. 2-1.
60 seconds later, The Index came to life. He put a puck on net that was originally credited to Bennett, but it ended up being an own goal. 3-1.
Sick behind the back pass by Malkin to set the table.
What a period from Beau Bennett. +3, two points. Basically did more in 20 minutes than Eric Tangradi did his whole life.
Leafs were too stunned to play the rest of the period.
Second period was another fast start for the Pens. They were going for the kill. Crosby was just insane. Phaneuf trying to defend him was hilarious. Seemed like every other shift either Crosby or Malkin's line was making moves. Crosby hit the post.
Simon Despres was really solid yet again. He was separating guys from the puck and taking time to make the right pass. His pairing with Engo looked shaky at times.
At the 13:56 mark of the second, the Pens got stuck on an extended shift. Dan Bylsma decided to call a timeout. The Pens basically owned the Leafs up to that point. For whatever reason, the timeout had adverse results.
The Leafs woke up. They began to hit the Pens and started getting good looks at MAF.
Not blaming the timeout; it just seemed like a turning point.
Eventually Crosby tripped Kadri. Leafs' powerplay was automatic. Franson snipe. 3-2.
If there's a play to circle, it's MAF's save on Kessel on the shift after that goal.
About two minutes later, Crosby had another one of those "holy shit" shifts. He went to the tried-and-true Crosby Board Play™. The direct result was the Pens getting a goal. Dupuis got dirty and went to the net. Puck hit off a Leafs' D-man. Count it. 4-2.
But 60 seconds later, Clarke fucking MacArthur sniped a goal. 4-3.
Clarke Mac has averaged about a point per game against the Pens in his career. Big-time Penguin killer.
Some dick broke Malkin's stick late in the period, but the power play couldn't find cash.
The third period should probably have it's own Tumblr tag. So many things happened. Malkin got hurt, Crosby went flying 6 feet in the air, and of course the Leafs tied it.
The Pens had a monster chance to put the game out of reach on a power play, but they couldn't do anything, and it was still a one-goal game.
Crosby, again, was just outstanding in the third period. He had to be on drugs.
The Leafs lead the entire NHL in hits, and they started pouring them on in the third. They started to come in waves at MAF. Sutter saved the day in MAF's crease during another Harlem Shake. Brooks Orpik started running around looking to hit someone. He got called for a penalty, which was inevitable.
The PK stepped up and killed it, but the Leafs didn't die.
Even though the Pens outshot the Leafs 13-5 in the third, it was a really shitty period for the Pens. And it was all about to go to hell. JVR caught Malkin coming through the neutral zone.
Clean hit. And it changed the momentum. The crowd got all jammed up.
Then the Pens found themselves with a bad matchup. The third/fourth line got caught out on the ice with Kessel and friends, and they paid for it. Kesselville. 4-4.
Give credit to Marc-Andre Fleury because he was sharp after giving up that goal, because the Leafs kept coming. Huge saves.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it almost did.
Crosby went airborne into the boards on a dangerous play:
Plays like that freeze you in your tracks. All you can do is make sounds in your living room as your animals look at you in complete shock. He was fine.
The last three minutes of regulation were as good as it gets. Pens had one or two good chances, but Reimer actually felt like playing.
Got a point.
It became clear that Malkin wasn't coming back for OT, so the Pens did the best they could. MAF was solid, and the D tightened up.
Engo destroyed Grabovski.
Dave Nonis' reaction:
Crosby was ridiculous. A buzz went throughout the building every time he touched the puck. It was probably everyone saying "oh shit" to the person beside them.
Then he did this:
Fleury stopped Bozak.
James Neal made Reimer look like an idiot and scored.
Fleury then turned away Kadri.
Crosby with the game on his stick:
— Curious move to scratch Mark Eaton. Maybe just giving him a night off.
— Pretty sure Malkin didn't see the ice again after taking that JVR hit.
— Fouth line is piss.
— Pens have given up 18 goals over the last 4 games. They are 4-0.
-Despres only saw 12 minutes? Felt like he played half the game.