Best thing to come out of Sochi may be the notion Evgeni Malkin is in a "dark place." In the grand scheme of things, this could be our generation’s "dying alive." We'll see if it has legs.
Bylsma said this game may have been the first time the team playing the previous night had the advantage. On the other hand, the Penguins still scored five goals. And this may have been the worst game Marc-Andre Fleury has played this season.
5 goals on 29 shots. SV% was .828. Yikes.
The lazy narrative for this game is that the Penguins were “rusty” because of the Olympic layoff. Not buying it. 3 of the Pens’ 5 goals came from guys who weren’t in Sochi, so that doesn’t fit into the storyline. Although it’s a common knee-jerk reaction, you really don’t need to find an excuse every time the Penguins lose. We made a post before the last Habs-Pens game that we were still waiting for that real good, crazy game we see between the two teams every year. “Good” is in the eye of the beholder; we are the beholders, and this game was entertaining as hell.
Overall, there’s a strange feeling around the whole season right now that we can't put our finger on. It might just be a matter of settling back in. The Kris Letang stroke news, coupled with the Paul Martin injury, really took the wind out of the sails. But this made us feel better:
The Pens have close to one million games coming up. Big show in Chicago on Saturday. Little known fact: it will be the first time Crosby and Toews have played against each other in the NHL.
RECAP of this game first:
The game was pretty even to start until the Pens fell apart in front of MAF. Tons of passes from the Habs, and Brendan Gallagher put home his 15th goal of the year. 1-0.
Malkin Finds Love in a Dark place
From earlier this week:
James Neal found a goal in the dark place known as Peter Budaj’s talent.
1-1. Rough play for Subban there, too.
The Habs caught the Pens on a bad change and almost made them pay. Sneaky play by Jokinen to break up the slam-dunk to Pacioretty.
At the other end, Budaj’s night was still going horribly. James Neal snuck another one through him, but it creeped toward the post. Malkin was on a mission. Neal was shooting from everywhere.
It was only a matter of time before the Pens got to Budaj again, and…ouch. Engelland scored a goal no NHL player should score. 2-1.
Pens had the bulk of a Rene Bourque PP to work with. The Habs somehow killed that off, and then they got back into the game.
Briere Signature celebration dot com
Habs had a cycle that culminated with Danny Briere sniping MAF. 2-2.
What in the world was Robert Bortuzzo doing on that Briere goal?
Robert Bortuzzo had a rough night. On the Briere goal, he was paired with Rob Scuderi. Scuderi deserves some blame, too, but let’s track Bortuzzo.
Scuderi goes for the puck, but forgets he is slow…
Scuderi misses the puck. Briere all alone…
Bortuzzo should step out on him, go down, blocking any pass attempt back door. Instead he backs up to cover the back door, leaving Briere all alone at point-blank range.
Pens got it back 4 minutes later on a PP. Maatta from downtown. 3-2.
But as was the story for the rest of the game, the Habs came roaring back. Also the story: the Penguins’ fourth-liners taking really stupid penalties. After that Maatta goal, Joe Vitale was placed on the ice. He took a penalty.
Desharnais and Pacioretty teamed up on the PP. 3-3.
And the game was really off and running.
Pens got another PP. Malkin and Georges had a WrestleMania moment.
Nothing else in the second.
The underlying theme of the third period was bad penalties. Douglas Murray got that train started when he almost murdered Brian Gibbons. The Penguins couldn't score on the powerplay.
Next up was Evgeni Malkin. He got baited into a bad by P.K. Subban, and the ref got baited into making a call:
Gutless play by Subban.
But the hockey gods would repay him.
On the ensuing power play, Brandon Sutter picked Subban's pocket and came in all alone on Budaj.
He scored. 4-3. Beauty.
But 24 seconds later, the Habs shut everyone up. Emelin scored from the Carnegie Science Center.
4-4. One of the worst goals to get through Fleury in a long time.
Then came Crosby and Murray being dicks and going to the box. After the 4-on-4, the Habs took a penalty. And MT wasn't happy about it:
The Pens’ power play was excellent, and Budaj made one great save on Crosby. He wouldn't make two, though. Crosby found a deflected Malkin shot, and buried it past Budaj. 5-4.
But the Penguins again went with grinders after the goal. This time Tanner Glass got himself into a bad position. He needlessly went for a big hit on Emelin. Emelin's own stick hit him in the face, but the refs missed that. They instead kicked Glass out for a headshot and gave the Habs a 5-minute power play.
5-5. Briere did his windmill again, but none of the feeds got a good shot of it.
The Pens killed off the rest of it, and the game got tight as the Habs especially wanted to get to OT and preserve the point.
Overtime was sac. Again, the Habs went with a conservative approach, hedging their bets on stealing the game in the shootout.
Nice try, there, Geno.
– We're still hoping ROOT Sports comes up with some sort of third- and fourth-line alert that plays when they're on the ice so you can do chores around the house. Aside from Sutter upping his trade value, the bottom two lines were a graveyard again.
– Pens lost the special-teams battle and lost the game. As games begin to get tighter, the special-teams battle will be everything. Watch for this trend.
– March of the Penguins