In a contest that featured just about anything you could imagine in a hockey game, the Penguins squandered a four-goal lead but still beat the Bruins in a shootout, 5-4.
-Ty Conklin's in net?!? Bleh!
-Ryan Malone and Brooks Orpik are scratched for the Penguins.
-Brandon Bochenski, Shawn Thornton and Andrew Alberts are the Bruins' scratches.
-With Malone out of the lineup with a leg infection, Evgeni Malkin is bumped up to the first line with Sidney Crosby and Colby Armstrong
19:15: Paul Steigerwald mentions that Bob Essensa has a goaltending clinic. While trying to find information about the clinic, we came across this Geocities tribute page for Essensa and former Penguins goaltender Petr Skudra, two obscure goaltenders who have absolutely nothing to do with each other. That would be like making a tribute page to character actors M.C. Gainey and Bob Gunton.
19:05: It doesn't take the Penguins long to strike. Armstrong forces Andrew Ference into a turnover along the boards. Crosby picks up the puck and centers a pass to a streaking Malkin. He dekes from the backhand to forehand and lifts the puck over the right leg of Tim Thomas. Penguins 1-0.
17:32: Glen Murray winds up and fires a slapper from the point. Conklin makes the save and the puck pops up in the air over his head. It appears as if it could flutter into the net, but Kris Letang swats it out of mid-air before any damage can be done. It's a very nice play by Letang.
16:21: FSN Pittsburgh gives us a peek at the lines:
11:34: Armstrong zips down the right boards and sneaks a pass by Ference into the crease. Despite having yeti Zdeno Chara draped over him, Crosby is able to re-direct it past Tim Thomas. After he scores, Ference upends Crosby along the boards. No call. Penguins 2-0.
11:01: We get our first good look at Jeff Taffe in a Penguins uniform. We immediately are blown away by the fact that they never retired Jan Hrdina's number.
10:14: Two times Gary Roberts sets up Erik Christensen with prime opportunities. Two times Christensen gets some nice shots on net. Two times Thomas makes some big saves.
8:07: Crosby feed the puck to Malkin at the top of the slot and he bombs a slapper that gets through traffic. The puck rings off the post and into the twin. Penguins 3-0.
7:30: A true heavyweight battle appears to take place when Georges Laraque (6-foot-3, 243 pounds) drops gloves with Zdeno Chara (6-foot-9, 251 pounds). It's not often that Laraque is the small guy in a fray, but Chara dwarfs him. The highly anticipated bout fails to live up to expectations however. They each keep their distance and hesitate to engage each other for about 25 seconds. Laraque finally ducks under Chara's huge reach and grabs a hold of his jersey. They each throw punches that only hit air and then wrestle each other to the ice. The "fight" is so pathetic that the officials don't even give them five minutes. They each get two minutes for delay of game.
6:09: Bob Errey says goaltending coach Gilles Meloche thinks Conklin is the best puckhandler among any of the goaltenders in the Penguins system. Uh...
Marc-Andre Fleury, Dany Sabourin and company must be bloody awful if that's the case.
5:24: Laraque and Chara were seemingly so embarrassed by their first "fight" they decided to go at it again. This one isn't all that much better. They don't hesitate as long. Laraque throws a big haymaker and Chara jabs with a quick inside punch. They each miss and fall over. Why does it seem that anytime the true heavyweights go at it, it never lives up to expectations?
0:00: End of period. Penguins 3, Bruins 0.
-Despite the domination on the scoreboard, the Penguins are only out-shooting the Bruins, 14-13.
-The Bruins will get 45 seconds of a power play on clean ice.
17:28: Chara blasts a big slapper on net that Conklin is able to locate and snare with his glove.
14:51: Seemingly incensed that the fights between Chara and Laraque were so lame, Crosby decides to take matters into his own hands. He gets pushed into the boards by Ference and the two exchange jabs. They then drop the gloves. Crosby pulls Ference down by his jersey and throws about five rights. Ference wrestles free and throws about four of his own. They then wrestle to the ice. It's a stunning scene seeing a player of Crosby's caliber deciding to fight. Malkin looks as if someone told him "Over The Top" isn't the best arm-wrestling movie of all time. Ference actually leaves the ice with a cut in his scalp. Crosby needs to drop his helmet, which has a visor, if he's going to make a habit of that. Each player gets give minutes, while Ference get an additional two for roughing.
No word yet if Crosby plans to challenge Bull Hurley following his loss to Lincoln Hawk:
12:12: Gary Roberts gets the puck in the slot and before he can do anything with it, he's run over by Chara.
8:34: From the point, Whitney winds up as if he's going to fire a slapper. Instead he deftly sends a soft pass to Erik Christensen's stick which re-directs the puck past Thomas. Surely this game is over right? Penguins 4-0.
5:24: Already shorthanded, Sergei Gonchar takes a foolish tripping penalty when he pulls Marco Sturm's right leg out from underneath him. Five-on-three for Boston for 50 seconds.
4:32: Shorthanded, Armstrong and Jordan Staal drive down on the net two-on-one against Chara. Armstrong passes to Staal who can't get a shot or pass past the 94-foot long stick of Chara. His shot is deflected out of play.
3:56: At the top of the slot, Ference lobs a puck on net. Sturm gets a blade on it and re-directs it past Conklin. Penguins 4-1.
2:24: On the power play, Gonchar loses the puck and has Marc Savard steal it. Gonchar pretty much interferes with Savard but nothing is called. Savard still gets a shot off but it goes out of play.
2:22: Right off the faceoff, Jeremy Reich wins the draw and P.J. Axelsson fires a one-timer past Conklin for a shorthanded goal. Penguins 4-2.
1:34: The Penguins try a mutated version of the "backdoor" play to Whitney. He snaps a wrister off that deflects off Thomas and off the post. Thomas covers to stop play.
0:50: Crosby holds the puck along the boards and tries to basically shield it from Chara as he usually does against most players. Not this time. Chara simply shoves Crosby to the ice face-first.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 4-2.
-The Bruins lead in shots, 24-23.
-It's clear that at this point, Mike Yeo and Andre Savard are on a pre-third period assistant coach interview platoon system.
18:35: Steigerwald tells us Glen Murray is out for the rest of the game with a "mid-body" injury. Have to love those specific NHL injury reports.
15:18: Chara fires another slapper from the point through traffic. Conklin locates it and absorbs it.
11:57: On a power play, Dennis Wideman blasts a one-timer from the top of the slot. Conklin is again able to locate it and absorb it.
9:25: We're told Crosby has to have his jersey replaced due to the spots of Ference's blood on it. Hey aren't the Reebok Edge-Super-Duper-Mega-Ultra-Awesome-Humungo-Women-Will-Want-You Uniform System jerseys supposed to deflect moisture? Or can't they handle hemogloblins?
9:06: Crosby steals the puck from Savard behind the net and centers a pass into the slot. Malkin blasts a one-timer that Thomas somehow is able to make sparkling save one.
8:54: Chara goes into the corner against Sergei Gonchar for a loose puck. Gonchar tries to keep on his feet, but ends up holding Chara. Two minutes.
6:46: Ference whips a shot on net. Conklin makes the initial save but Petteri Nokelainen slides underneath his five hole. Nokelainen goal is so unexpected, Errey and Steigerwald are stumble trying to figure out what his name is. Penguins 4-3.
2:55: On a power play, Sturm sends a pass through traffic to the slot. Wideman whips a one-timer that beats Conklin. It's an almost complete collapse by the Penguins. Bruins 4, Penguins 4.
1:17: Chasing a loose puck in the corner. Eaton bends over low and runs head-first in the elbow of Vladimir Sobotka. It's not a dirty play by any means. It's more unfortunate than anything. Eaton just ran his head into Sobotka's elbow which was pinned against his own body. Trainer Chris Stewart comes out to attend to Eaton. Stewart is wearing the coolest pants ever with a Penguins logo on the butt. Eaton recovers to his feet and leaves the ice hunched over.
0:17: Gonchar slides a pass from the point to Malkin who winds up for a one-timer. Aaron Ward reads it and is able to block it with his legs.
0:00: End of period. Bruins 4, Penguins 4.
2:00: Whitney flings a backhander on net that Thomas is able to eat up.
1:24: Savard bombs a one-timer from the high-slot. Conklin is able to juuuusssttt deflect it.
0:00: End of period. Bruins 4, Penguins 4.
-Christensen goes first which isn't a surprise. It's almost sick how easy this is for him. He simply dekes to the left and lifts the puck to beat Thomas. Penguins 1-0.
-Phil Kessel zips in. As he approaches the net, he tries to got to the backhand but Conklin denies him.
-Kris Letang gets to go second. As he approaches Thomas, he lifts his left leg and goes high glove side. It's an amazing shot. Penguins 2-0.
-Sturm weaves in from the right and attacks five-hole. Conklin closes the door and wins the game. End of shootout. Penguins 2-0. End of game. Penguins 5-4.
-You have to be concerned by the fact that the Penguins gave up a four-goal lead to a team that isn't exactly an offensive dynamo.
-The Penguins could be dueling with the Bruins eventually for playoff seeding. The point they allowed the Bruins pick up could hurt them eventually down the road.
-Ty Conklin made 37 saves. You can only really give him grief over Nokelainen's goal which was the result of a poor rebound. Other than that, Conklin played well enough to win.
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS
A preview of the Islanders.
Leading Scorer: Mike Comrie 25 points (9 goals, 16 assists)
Last Game against the Penguins: 3-2 loss in Uniondale, N.Y. Dec. 15.
Ex-Penguins: Andy Hilbert, C; Richard Park, RW; Jon Sim, LW (injured); Drew Fata, D (former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins currently with the Islanders AHL affiliate Bridgeport); Garth Snow, general manager; Bryan Trottier, director of player development; Ted Nolan, head coach, John Chabot, assistant coach.
Useless Islanders Trivia: The last Islanders player to be selected to consecutive All-Star games was Pierre Turgeon in 1992-93 and 1993-94.
Best Islanders YouTube Video We Could Find: What more do you need in life than Mike Bossy and Van Halen?
GABORIK LOOKS MAGNIFICENT
Marian Gaborik scored five goals and had an assist in the Wild's 6-3 road win against the Rangers.
It was the first five-goal performance in the NHL in 11 years. The last player to turn the trick was Mario Lemieux for the Penguins in a game March 26, 1996. Here's the video of Lemieux's fifth goal that night:
-Dave McLlwain assisted on that goal? Dang.
EMPTY NETTER ASSISTS
-Reports of the Penguins and Senators opening next season in Sweden may be a bit premature.
-Michel Therrien's job isn't to motivate.
- Bad news for you Center Ice subscribers outside of Pittsburgh. Friday's game versus the Islanders will be broadcast on NHL Network in the United States. So unless you subcribe to that channel as well, you're most likely not going to be able to watch it.
-Poor David Shoalts of the Globe & Mail. He "has" to attend the AARP Energy Winter Classic because his boss told him to. It must be awful "having" to go to sold-out hockey games for free in a warm, catered press box.
-Mario Lemieux will be inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame.
-Chris Simon feels he was treated unfairly. Because stomping on someone with a sharpened piece of metal on your foot wouldn't potentially hurt them or anything.
-Islanders coach Ted Nolan is mad at NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell for insinuating Simon's problems were due to a drug or alcohol problem. Apparently Simon is a cheap-shot artist just naturally.
-Guilliaume Latendresse scored two goals for the Candiens in a 5-2 win at Washington.
-Vincent Lecavalier's goal with 41.6 seconds left in regulation gave the Lightning a 2-1 win against the Maple Leafs. Rookie goaltender Karri Ramo got the win by making 31 saves.
-Kari Lehtonen made 28 saves and led the Thrashers to a 3-2 win against the Senators.
-Olli Jokinen had a goal and an assist for the Panthers who edged the Hurricanes, 5-4. The win put the Panthers above the .500 mark for the first time this season.
-Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals took a tour of Washington, D.C. on Segways:
-Somehow, we don't see Sidney Crosby and company rolling through Beltzhoover anytime soon on those.
(Kudos to Eric McElrain at AOL for spotting the video)
-Two-point nights by Paul Kariya and Andy McDonald helped the Blues claim a 3-2 win against the Red Wings.
-Two goals by Daniel Sedin led the Canucks to a 3-2 win against the Stars.
-Peter Mueller's shootout goal lifted the Coyotes to a 3-2 win at San Jose.
-Coyotes forward Daniel Carcillo, a former Penguins prospect, injured his leg during a line brawl last night with the Sharks:
-The Coyotes have a line with a cool name. Radim Vrbata, Martin Hanzal and Fredrik Sjostrom are the "VHS" Line. Boston's "Beta" line of Patrice Bergeron, Shawn Thornton and P.J. Axelsson not impressed.
-Check out this amazing short-handed goal Sharks center Torrey Mitchell scored against the Ducks Sunday:
-Ducks goon George Parros, a native of Washington, Pa., donated his hair to Locks of Love, a group that provide hair pieces to disadvantaged children who have suffered medical hair loss. The porn 'stache stayed with Parros though.
-The NHL is trying to squeeze more money out of you. This time, they're scalping their own tickets.