My God. What a battle in St. Louis. What a way to go roaring into the All-Star Break. It does suck that the Break comes as the Pens have won 7 straight, but if any team needs a break, it's the Pens. Get some bodies healthier in anticipation of the long haul through February and March.
How much did you hate the Blues by the end of the first period even? That means they're good. That means anyone who plays them in the playoffs is going to have some issues. Give that team a player of Malkin's talent, and they'd probably be Stanley Cup favorites.
Too bad they ran into the hottest team in the NHL Tuesday night. For some reason, Ken Hitchcock thought he was going to grind the Penguins down. Huge mistake. The Penguins found their game in the second period and got up 2-0.
The 2-0 lead evaporated as the Blues scored goals off of two big-time turnovers. Marc-Andre had nothing to do with it. He was amazing all night. One of the most entertaining performances of the season. Not to mention clutch: Pens had to kill off that Matt Cooke penalty at the end of regulation and into OT, and MAF was answering every bell.
Kunitz won it in the shootout. Seven straight wins after the season looked like it was gonna go by way of the Haiti earthquake. Seven straight wins, without Jordan Staal, and with Crosby not even anywhere near the team.
We got more stuff:
Tangradi scratched for Steve MacIntyre. If Tangradi is ever on A&E's Intervention, the story of his scratch in this game will be prominently involved. Malkin came out guns blazing to start. Had a shift longer than "Interview With The Vampire."
Stupidest movie of all time. It had potential for a while, but Kirsten Dunst turned out to be too bizarre. Of course it was based on a book, so it's the book that sucks.
Malkin vs. Backes was gonna be the big-time matchup to watch. Just imagine if Backes was actually good. Back and forth for a while to start. Pens had a bunch of 2-on-1s, then they got a power play when Sobotka put a cheap shot on Sullivan. The hate really started flowing after that punch was thrown. At the end of that PP, Niskanen jobbed Oshii. Probably not the best penalty, although the Blues sure go down easy when their backs are turned. (more on that later)
Things even up, then David Perron slashes Neal behind the play. The only camera angle that caught it was the blimp view, so it was hard to see if Neal really dove. Perron gave Neal a little smirk in the box.
Every stoppage in play in the first was accompanied by some major chirping between the two teams. Richard Park got lit up by a Blues D-man coming across the blue line. The first was brutal.
MAF was solid. Someone blew around Paul Martin for the second straight game. Not good. Pens got another powerplay, but it didn't do anything.
For the most part, we've abandoned the Root Sports broadcast, but from what we've heard, Steigerwald is trying to name the Kunitz-Malkin-Neal line "The Firing Line" or even "The Shooting Stars." What.
We were thinking the Blues kind of blew their load in the first, since this was their fourth game in six nights. Suspicions turned into reality after David Backes went to the box for taking a penalty on Evgeni Malkin. Backes looked like he was signaling that Malkin was a diver or something. Get in the box and shut up.
Pens were Natalee Holloway for most of the PP, but they salvaged it late. James Neal found a puck after some hard work by Kunitz and Martin. Neal fired the puck at Elliot. Elliot couldn't get it.
Then the game opened up even more. MAF made all kinds of saves. Hearts stopped when there was a small possibility that MAF had broken his leg or something on the mini breakaway Chris Stewart had.
Penguins cashed in shortly after that huge aave. Sullivan went in with just the tip, and Elliot phoned home.
Marc Andre Fleury is just on another level. We don't fondle his balls much, but he's probably the MVP of this team right now. He's been nothing short of impressive.
Also impressive: Patrik Berglund's hands. He capitalized after that Matt Cooke turnover. goal city 2-1.
Malkin was lurking late in the period. He stole a puck and led a big-time rush. Saucer pass to Neal. No dice.
Joe Vitale's head almost fell off toward the end of the period.
Great shift by Joe Vitale to open up the third. He's from St. Louis. He had like 12 chances, but Elliot was locked in.
Sobotka took another terrible penalty by punching Malkin in the face. The power play was frustrated. Letang starts flirting with disaster again:
Huge turnover by Letang after that. Lazy turnover. Even if you're a Letang fan boy, say those words out loud because it was true on this particular play. You'll feel better if you do it.
That turnover led to a Berglund penalty shot.
Berglund doesn't waste any time.
Goal city. 2-2.
The Pens answered that by rising to the momentum wave the Blues were on. Great action back and forth. Best chance came for the Blues when TJ Noshie ( @psamp with the Noshie) hit the post. TK or Vitale had a chance right before that, too.
It was Brian Elliot vs. MAF the rest of the third. They were both tested, and they both shut the door.
The Pens were getting away with a ton of penalties late in the game. And then this happened:
Puck Daddy has a good writeup about it, saying that Jackman preyed on Matt Cooke's reputation. Have to agree. That's not to say the way Jackman fell wasn't terrifying and/or embarrassing.
ROOT sports was also in denial about the penalty:
thanks to RupePSU for the find.
So, 1:19 left. Pens in a must-kill situation. And they dig in. The Blues had good chances, but the Penguins actually had the best chance. Richard Park led a 2-on-1 to close out the game. If you weren't at least at the edge of your seat on that rush, we can't help you. Not sure if that was blocked or what, but it didn't go in.
Game slipped into OT.
OT was pure madness. Penguins first had to kill the rest of the penalty. They did, thanks to MAF's pads. He made a remarkable save on David Backes.
Pens killed it, and all hell broke loose. James Neal was out of his mind. Malkin was everywhere. The Blues responded with some chances. It was on a different level. 4-on-4 is amazing.
MAF made a huge save, and then Neal got the puck ahead to Malkin. He was one-on-one with some guy. It was a time to stand up if you were sitting down. He made a spin move but couldn't do anything big. Man.
Berglund started for the Blues. MAF said no.
Letang for the Pens. Tripped over his hair. Nope.
Kevin Shatinyourmouth. Go to hell.
Malkin for the Pens. scores. scorrressssssss
3rd shooter for the Blues: TJ Yoshii. Goal.
Both teams missed again.
Then Kunitz had the game on his stick.
He gives Bill some cash to phone home with. Peace.
At one point, the ROOT sports cameraman lost the puck. How is that possible?