After getting off to an insane start, the Pens have hit their first valley of the season. This kind of shit happens. We've all been to this rodeo before. No use getting worked up over it, really.
But it still sucked ass. The Leafs were without two of their big names in Lupul and Bozak. The Pens outshot the Leafs, had the Air Canada Centre crowd lulled to sleep, and everything was rolling toward the Pens getting a goal somewhere and leaving Toronto with a W. Instead, turnovers happened. Instead, the Pens fell back into their usual thing of getting all flustered when what they're trying to do isn't working.
8 of the Pens' next 12 games are against Metro Division teams, mostly the bottom-feeders. We've never really cared about the Penguins winning their division in years past, but with the new playoff structure, getting that #1 seed in the divisional playoffs is a big deal. The Metro is already getting the reputation of the worst division in hockey, so the Pens need to take care of business in their own back yard.
The big news from this game is the uncertainty around Rob Scuderi's injury.
Phanuef and Niskanen both got away with penalties early on, interference and holding, respectively.
That's nearly 19 miles per hour.
Paul Ranger interfered with Joe Vitale for some reason, and the Pens had a power play. The Pens capitalized. Malkin went behind the net and fed Letang sneaking in. He didn’t get all of it, but he got enough. 1-0.
Next time Crosby was on the ice, David Clarkson belted him. Crosby was jammed and took it out on Mason Raymond, and the Leafs had their turn on the power play. Didn’t really threaten. Usually it's just the goalie banging his stick when a player is coming out of the box, but when it's Crosby, the team gets involved, too:
Kessel and Jokinen had a slap fight for some reason before a faceoff, so they both went off. Malkin went off a little later, and the Leafs had a 4-on-3 for 1:30. That was a turd fest, so the Leafs called a timeout. The Pens killed everything.
Gunnarsson hooked Kunitz. Another Pens PP. Pens got a free timeout when Reimer needed to fix his mask, but the Pens couldn’t do anything.
Out of nowhere, David Bolland was behind the Pens’ D.
Blasts a slapper. Shorty. 1-1.
Crazy-bad play by Letang on that goal.
At the end of the period, Clarkson hit Scuderi pretty much in the same exact place where he hit Crosby earlier in the period. This time, Scuderi went down and stayed down. He wouldn’t return. Meanwhile, in Utah, Engelland and McLaren fought.
Air Canada Centre sounded like a library. Nothing much happening.
MAF made a save on JVR.
Leafs fans finally woke up when Reimer robbed Dupuis after a nice feed from Vitale.
Bolland almost broke Matt D’Agostini in half with a cross-check. PP. Maatta had a golden chance toward the end of the PP but couldn’t convert on his backhand. Killed. Circle that play.
Pens caught a break when the Leafs got called for an icing even though Maatta had tipped the puck with his glove later. Who cares.
Best part of this game was it being on Hockey Night in Canada, meaning we could watch a CBC feed of the game. Every whistle, they were highlighting all the little battles going on. The Phaneuf was in Crosby's temple all game. They had a big Clarkson boner, too, showing everything he did. It was his first home game as a Leaf, but it was still getting close to a porno.
Game really hit a lull for most of the second. Seemed like they couldn’t go a minute without a stoppage in play.
Nazem Kadri scored a minute and a half into the third after a Geno turnover. Fleury got overaggressive with a poke-check attempt. Mistake.
Tick tick tick tick tick.
80 minutes of nothing later, JVR bulled past Orpik, and Orpik slashed him. The Leafs had the chance to bury the Pens on the PP. Kessel jammed one home, and that was it. 3-1.
Empty net. 4-1.
-- Air Canada Centre statkeeper says the Leafs outhit the Penguins 46-26. Yeah okay.
-- Letang scored, so that's something. Pens got out of their PP slump.
-- Malkin with a -3. Woof.
-- Pics: AP/Getty