RECAP: Johnny And The Law. PENS WIN.

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Best thing about the NHL season are those games that get back at a team for previously caused pain. Case in point, last night: Minnesota has owned the Penguins over the years, going like 9-2. And, god, how they would suck the life out of the building in Pittsburgh. So last night the Penguins, the boring version of the Penguins, walked into Minnesota on the back end of a back-to-back and ruined everyone's night.  Sweet justice.  Pens got a big-time battle from Brent Johnson, and James Neal scored the game-winner, his league-leading sixth goal.  Let's not forget the penalty kill, who have still not given up a 5-on-4 goal this year and are perfect in 27 road games so far this season.
 
And now the most watered-down show on earth rolls on back home.  Surprised the Pens don't play tonight, too. The first matchup of the season with the Canadiens on Thursday. Get the hate ready.
 
Recap…

 

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Gregg A., @ProfJSpray, ChikkaChiChi, MrsChiChi, ChikkaBroBro, BZ, Nick
Happened to be in Minneapolis for a conference, so of course had to get to the game.  Attached an anthem pic, but my phone sucks.  My goal was to get some epic stunned pics, but I was too busy being excited when we scored.  The fans in Minnesota were the nicest, most docile fans I’ve ever experienced.  So pleasant and welcoming.  The volume of the sound system dwarfs CONSOL, I shit you not.  Unbearable.  Wasn’t quite as electric as I expected from a Minnesota crowd, but they suck, so its forgiven.  Wild were 0-fer on the pp, Mike YEO. . .WOOOOOOOO!!! – BZ
 
We got down to ice level yesterday and as we're watching warmups, this guy I went to the game with [Dan] yells out "Hey, it's Paul Martin!" Dan hardly follows hockey, and is by no means a Pens fan – but he's fun as hell when he gets to drinkin, which is why I took him to the game – so I was surprised he knew who the hell Paul Martin was. As Paul skates closer Dan squints and looks at his face and goes "Yeah, that's Paul. I used to let that fucker copy my math homework every morning in high school. I always showed up for class 5 mins early and he always sat behind me and would tap me on the shoulder to copy the last night's assignment 5 mins before handing it in. He was a cool dude just didn’t know Algebra worth a shit. – Nick

The game kicked off with probably the quickest anthem of all time. Guy was in a hurry.  That was followed up with two boy fans revving up the crowd. Only in Minnesota.

The first glimpse of Wild fans was so odd. Most of the crowd was wearing orange hats that was part of some giveaway. Have fun with that.

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Reader @ProfJSpray was at the game and sent us this:

"Gander Mtn" across the back and "Pheasants Forever" on the side. Honestly, no idea why anybody would ever wear these. Was hoping for a Pens hat trick so I could give it back. 

Niskanen had to take a penalty, and the Wild jumped on the PP.  Although Niskanen took a couple penalties this game, we'll say this: his play was really frustrating last season, and now he's gradually locking up his spot in a healthy Pens blue line.  Isn't he like top-10 in the NHL in shots or something?  Two-horse race between Lovejoy and Engelland now.
 
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Pens killed that Nisko penalty without too much effort. Minnesota kind of sucks.  The Pens kept peppering Minnesota with shots after killing that penalty.  No insanely threatening chances, but shots are shots.  The game pretty much came to a standstill halfway through the first. Whistles everywhere.

Lovejoy had a turnover, and the Wild had the best chance of the game up to that point. Johnson was able to make a save on that backhand move to the front. The dead crowd in Minnesota barely reacted.  Then Dupuis went to the box.  Johnson had to make a couple of huge saves for the PK, and the Pens killed it.

Richard Park got smoked a few times but kept coming back for more like a son of a bitch.

Late in the period, Lovejoy took a solid shot to the head deep in the Minnesota zone.  Looked like it could have been bad.  Nothing else happened. Didn't feel like the Pens were ever going to score. Pens won 15 of 23 faceoffs in the first, though.

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Pens come out right away and force a turnover in the Wild zone.  Dupuis puts it where Kunitz needed it.  One-timer. 1-0.

The Pens turned around and put the Wild on the power play.  Neal heads to the box.  Pens killed it again.  Wild looked lost.

Then, on one play, the Pens lost both Strait and Vitale.  Strait took an innocent-looking hit, and Vitale took a stick to the mouth.  Pens jumped on a 4-minute PP.  

Jordan Staal puts one home off a skirmish in front.  2-0.

Jordan Staal maybe had his best overall game of the year thus far.  He was everywhere, including the box.  He was 50% in the dot.

Big moment on why Niskanen is such a beast. On the Staal goal, he gets the puck. He winds up for a shot but doesn't see a lane. He dished over a nice pass to MichalekMichalek hits the net, and Staal cleans shit up. The play doesn't happen without Niskanen's pump fake.  Not really minding him on the power play at all. And we'll take Staal in front of the net all day.

Pens still had 2 minutes to work with on that Vitale high stick. And…the Wild made them pay.  Koivu and Clutterbuck get a 2-on-0.  

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Clutterbuck snipe job.  2-1.  What a stupid mustache.

The game settled down after that explosion of goals.  Niskanen went to the box again, and the Pens killed it.  Engelland took a puck to the face.  Jesus.

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Definitely had a feeling going into the third that it was gonna be a long and treacherous 20 miles on the road.  And it was.

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First, Brent Johnson was outstanding. He made several huge saves. He stopped two Wild players point-blank. And how many times do we see it: Get a save from your goalie then go the other way and score. 

And the Pens do it. Vitale works his dick off and forces a Wild d-man to make a mistake. James Neal swoops in out of nowhere and gets the puck. He storms down the left side. He puts the puck out where it can't be poked. He drops the shoulder, goes five hole. 30-35-goal-scorers score that goal.  3-1.

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What a release.

The Pens escaped going down a man when Cooke got away with a trip.  We were getting the feeling that the NHL hated the Penguins or something. Whew.
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And then hearts stopped when Brent Johnson comes up lame on some play.  Refs gave the Wild plenty of time to capitalize on Johnson being injured, but they couldn't do it.  The whistle was finally blown.  Johnson collected himself and stayed in the game.  Did Root Sports even have a dramatic cut shot of Fleury putting on his blocker and glove? Minnesota fans booed. They had orange hats on, so whatev.

What did Johnson do when play resumed?  He kept making some ten-bell saves.  Absolutely deserved the number-one star.

The Pens finally went back to the box when Staal's stick got caught in a Wild d-man.  The PK decided to help out the offense.  Cooke bounces a puck off the boards to open space.  Dupuis flies in and takes the puck.  Longest breakaway we've seen in a long time.  4-1.

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That was the final nail in the coffin. 

The Wild gave the remaining fans a glimmer of hope when some french idiot named Geeyom Lafdlfkmga scored off a rebound.  4-2.

Neal had a chance to add another goal to his eventual Maurice Richard total but couldn't put it home. 

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Game.

MISCELLANEOUS
-Joe Vitale: 8-5 in the dot.
- RE: The Roots Sports segment on Crosby's sister. People are surprised Crosby and his sister have the same mannerisms.  They are brother and sister.  You hang around someone long enough, you adopt their mannerisms, things they say, etc.  Now imagine you're hanging out with a world-class athlete who's been trained since he was 14 to deal with the media.  What a role model to emulate. And we'd love to be a fly on the wall when she asks some joke to a Sadie Hawkins dance.  Then again, she'll probably go work on her rebound control instead.
-Richard Park took the most faceoffs for the Pens last night.  Went 13-9.
-Michalek was a +2.  Great stat.
-Steve MacIntyre: 23 seconds of ice time.
-Go Pens
 
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