This felt like a playoff game. And in three weeks…it could be.
This look says it all:
This game went from the Penguins looking like crap, to looking like the ’98 Red Wings, to looking like a ’90s teenage girl’s face after hearing the latest Jewel song.
The Penguins put three goals in their own net, but you can’t take anything away from the Red Wings. You make your own luck, and the Wings did what they needed to do. They are even more beat-up than the Penguins, and they found a way to sneak out a huge 2 points. In the grand scheme of things, this game was more about the Red Wings winning it than it was the Penguins losing it.
TWO BIG CONCERNS RIGHT NOW
- Michel Therrien : Michelle Ouellet :: Dan Bylsma : Joe Vitale
- The power-play well has run dry. All of a sudden, the Pens’ power play is just 5 for 35 in March. They had 5 minutes at the end of this one to close it out and couldn’t.
Right off the opening faceoff, Joe Louis Arena sucked. Fans were still filing into their seats after coming from some Kid Rock concert, then there were the usual clowns all game long standing up and waving at their girlfriend at home while she’s getting plowed by his best friend.
Plus the Red Wings were wearing white at home. We love it. Pretty sure the NHL decided to have the home team wear dark so they could show off their third jerseys at home, but it’s really given home-team fans a boring experience. Just an endless procession of white jerseys for the away team. Stupid. We miss seeing the red Canadiens jerseys.
If those first two things didn’t throw you off, Joe Vitale may had a shot on net on his first shift.
Pens got a PP when Malkin got tripped, but they didn’t do anything. After the Wings killed it off, they went to work. Then Alfredsson entered the zone. Bortuzzo and Despres played it as curiously as two people could:
That’s what Franzen does. Textbook drive to the net.
Alfie went Thriller on MAF.
Shoulder, glove side. 1-0.
The rest of the period was Alfredsson doing whatever he wanted.
Paul Steigerwald is a menace.
We couldn’t concentrate the rest of the period because ROOT kept using stupid cut shots like this:
The Pens came out trying to tie it up. Brian Gibbons is probably the only player in the NHL who would actually be better if he didn’t have a stick.
Niskanen went to the box. Scuderi tried to block a crossing pass through the crease. Didn’t work. It was all he could do after being knocked down by Franzen. It wasn’t called, and the Pens would get it back on a Bertuzzi call later.
Malkin got jobbed somewhere. Neal responded by basically ending Glendening with a crosscheck.
No idea what’s going through James Neal’s mind sometimes. What makes this worse is that he just returned from a concussion and proceeds to go after some dude’s head? Look at Neal’s head. He stalked him the whole time. To get an idea of James Neal’s reputation in the league, the Red Wings color guy saw it behind the play and said, “Guess who.”
PENGUINS LOSE COMPOSURE
The Penguins took three really bad Penguins in about a six-minute span.
1. The Neal penalty above…
2. Chris Kunitz shoved Brendan Smith down to the ice…
3. Then Jussi Jokinen tried to kill some Wing. What in the world. If you’re keeping track, that’s 3 of the Penguins’ 5 big guns taking really stupid penalties. Can’t happen.
But the Pens’ worker bees did well to kill off all they had to. And thankfully Todd Bertuzzi still exists because he took a penalty to take some of the pressure off.
Lady Luck showed up for the Pens in the back end of the period. Kunitz lazily threw one to the net. Stempniak worked off a Kronwall job and deflected one home. 2-1.
That is a nasty deflection. Stempniak: 2G, 5A in 8 games as a Pen. Solid. Streaky player and may not be as soft as we thought.
25 seconds after that goal, off a set faceoff play, Malkin sent it to Neal in front. Malkin followed up on it and whacked home a rebound. 2-2.
And just like that, the Penguins turned it on.
A minute later, Tatar went off for a hold. Then a puck was thrown over the glass. Malkin with a bomb on the 5-on-3. 3-2.
It made zero sense that the Pens were in the lead after what they went through in the first half of the period.
The Penguins looked in control of the game, and the Wings looked tired and slow. Coming into the game, the Penguins were 29-3-2 when leading after two periods, and the Wings were 2-14-2 when trailing. But that meant nothing at all.
About six minutes in, with the Wings on the ropes, Jimmy Howard stoned Brandon Sutter on a breakaway. Huge moment. We circled that on our imaginary scoresheet at the time.
TURNING POINT II
The Penguins had a power play after Evgeni Malkin drew a penalty on Brendan Smith. Malkin had taken a penalty earlier in the period, so it was nice to see him come back strong.
On that power play, a Wings player dropped his stick. Another Wing player scooted the stick towards Neal, and Neal swatted it away.
Note that it says the offending team will be assessed a “minor penalty,” not “a free pass to start making mistakes.”
The power play was done, and a minute later on the 4-on-4, the Wings scored. 3-3. A meltdown between Maatta and Scuderi caused it:
It would get worse for both of them. First, it was Maatta’s turn. Todd Bertuzzi threw a puck to the net:
The Penguins fought back, though. Craig Adams found himself all alone in front of the net. Brandon Sutter found him. Just a huge goal. The bottom six is starting to put home some pucks. 4-4.
David Legwand is an idiot
In a game where your team needs the points, you wouldn’t think this would happen. David Legwand butt-ended Evgeni Malkin in the secret spot. Mike Babcock probably set Legwand’s hotel room on fire after the game.
Looked like Malkin really went down after finding the ref, but it’s still a ridiculously dangerous thing to do with your stick. Legwand got a game misconduct, and the Pens got a five-minute power play. Connecting here can be the difference between being down 2-0 in a series and it being tied 1-1.
The Wings killed off everything in third and overtime with their backs to the wall.
Pens’ PP wasn’t happening. There weren’t too many chances either way. The Wings were definitely protecting that second point.
It looked like it was going to the shootout, but then it happened. The Pens pinched late, Rob Scuderi cut to the net like Bobby Orr, Malkin did some leap, and the Wings went the other way on a 3-on-1. Alfie shot a puck to the net. It bounced off Fleury and then Rob Scuderi, who was scrambling to get back in the play.
- Didn’t notice Brooks Orpik.
- The whole Sutter/Gibbons thing may have legs.
- Aflie carried the Wings. Feels like he has unlimited game winners in OT against the Pens.
- Interesting games this weekend. Tampa is playing good hockey, and the Blues Sunday should be fun.