Moving up

March 30, 2008

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The Penguins reclaim first place in the Eastern Conference with a 3-1 defeat of the Rangers.

PREGAME

-If you're reading along, hit us up at srorabaugh@post-gazette.com.

You are reading live from the press box at Mellon Arena.

Walking to the game, we saw a couple jerseys:

WBS

Marc-Andre Fleury and Tyler Kennedy Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

zubov

Sergei Zubov and Pavel Bure Rangers.

gretzky

This one was a little bit out of place to say the least.

-When approached about the possibility of playing his last game at Mellon Arena, Jaromir Jagr told the New York Post he would wave to the fans today... after he scores.

-Cotton candy heeeee!!!! Cotton candy heeee!!!

-At about 11:58 a.m. the Rangers took to the ice to a smattering of boos.

-The Penguins jumped on the ice afterwards to some cheers.

-Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist will start in net.

-The Penguins' scratches are Jeff Taffe and Dany Sabourin.

-The Rangers scratched Marek Malik, Blair Betts, Colton Orr and Jason Strudwick.

-A few more jerseys we saw:

Palffy

-Zigmund Palffy.

Ovechkin

-Another jersey that's a bit out of place perhaps.

coffey

-Paul Coffey.

mullen

-Joe Mullen.

Francis

-Ron Francis.

Brown

-Rob Brown.

Cullen

-John Cullen.

-Jeff Jimerson blows out ear drums with the Star Spangled Banner.

-The "WE ARE SPARTA!" scene from "300" is played prior to the game. A nice touch.

FIRST PERIOD

18:47: Sean Avery gets a chance in deep against Fleury and is denied.

18:44: Hal Gill is called for hooking. For some odd reason, there was a pretty notable applause for the penalty. There are Rangers fans here for sure, but it's not like it's an overwhelming amount.

17:28: Jaromir Jagr touches the puck for the first time and is booed pretty heavily. Not cool.

17:21: Marian Hossa has a chance from in the slot. Lundqvist kicks it out.

16:57: Off a faceoff win, Christian Backman slides the puck to the Jagr at the point. Jagr pounds a one-timer. Fleury makes the save. Brandon Dubinsky grabs the rebound and puts it over a sprawled out Fleury. The Penguins completely failed to account for Dubinsky on that play. Rangers 1-0.

15:05: Juussst after an offsides whistle, Ryan Malone hit Michal Rozsival and knocks him to the ice.

14:08: Georges Laraque pounds Petr Prucha in the corner.

11:03: Kris Letang bangs Nigel Dawes with an nice check along the boards.

9:58: Sidney Crosby circles in the corner with the puck and flings a backhanded pass into the slot. It hits off Pascal Dupuis' skate and deflects behind him. Marian Hossa jumps on it and fires a "one-timer" almost that burns Lundqvist. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1, Rangers 1.

8:55: Prucha is whistled for roughing. During a television time out, the Penguins display a clever use of publicly-funded destruction. Video is shown of the old Saint Francis Central Hospital that was blown up last week. A Rangers logo was super-imposed on it and well... you get the idea.

5:50: Trying to negate an icing call, Crosby seemingly races into the corner and touches the puck before Rozsival. The official doesn't see it that way and blows his whistle.

4:45: The Staal brothers wrestle each other in the corner for the puck.

3:50: Ryan Malone charges down the slot and is hooked by Daniel Girardi. Two minutes.

3:50: Fedor Tyutin is called for hooking.

2:32: The Penguins will get a two-man advantage for 42 seconds as Fredrik Sjostrom is called for slashing. Not smart.

2:13: Crosby takes a pass in the crease and pushes the puck juuust wide of the net.

2:04: Sergei Gonchar slides the puck from the left point to the right. Malkin blasts a rising one-timer that beats Lundqvist over his shoulder on the blocker-side. It's an amazing shot. The Penguins will still have a power play for over a minute afterwards. A Penguins official tells us it is Malkin's 30th goal at home this season and he believes only five or six other Penguins have hit that total before. Penguins 2-1.

1:03: From the left boards, Darryl Sydor throws a wrister at the net. Malkin tries to re-direct it but Lundqvist is knocks it away.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Rangers 1.

FIRST INTERMISSION

-The Rangers own a 7-6 edge in shots.

-The Penguins controlled the faceoffs, 10-9.

-Officials are looking at Malkin's goal again. They think Sykora may have touched it.

-Best text messages sent to the Jumbotron:

"Laraque of Gibraltar!"

-"Gary Roberts proved the Riemann hypothesis"

SECOND PERIOD

19:20: Hossa is called for hooking. Someone from the north F balcony can be heard screaming, "That was stick on stick you *$#@!"

17:45: The attendance is announced as 17,020.

16:45: Crosby comes down the left side and fires a wrister. Lundqvist appears to tip it away with his blocker.

15:10: Maxime Talbot one-times a deflected puck from the corner. Lundqvist deflects it away.

15:07: Jarkko Ruutu drops Girardi in the corner. "Ruuuuuuu!"

14:11: Tyler Kennedy is nabbed for holding.

13:52: Jagr moves around Gill in the left faceoff circle and snaps a wrister on net. Fleury knocks it away.

11:45: A reader writes:

"Hearing the fans boo Jagr so vigorously makes me actually feel almost embarrassed to be a Pens fan. It's almost as bad as last year in the playoffs when the fans booed the Canadian National anthem which, by the way, though I'm not Canadian but that might have been the most tasteless, classless and disgusting thing I have ever witnessed in the NHL). I just dont understand what this booing accomplishes. Like when Crosby gets booed when he plays on the road. I agree with what you said in a recent post by the way, this kind of stuff is something that should only be expected out of Flyers fans. Try starting a cheer everytime Jagr touches the puck."

-Nick

10:38: Dubinsky collects a loose puck and has a clear shot on net. Fleury says no.

9:22: Public address announcer John Barbero acknowledges a specialist from the U.S. Army in the crowd. Always classy.

8:30: The Penguins are getting out-shot, 10-1, this period so far.

7:59: Ryan Whitney sends a wrister on net from the right faceoff circle. Lundqvist makes a nice toe save on.

6:50: Dubinsky appears to catch Malkin in the face with his skate. He almost slid it across his cheek. Malkin gets up and leaves his gloves, stick and helmet on the ice. He holds a hand to his cheek and skates towards the penalty boxes hunched over. He skates across the ice to the Penguins bench where trainer Chris Stewart holds a towel to his face. From where we are, no blood is visible.

5:53: Lundqvist covers a loose puck in the crease. A scrum ensues. Kris Letang wrestles a Rangers player to the ice. Jagr is called for hooking. Marc Staal and Letang get fighting majors. The announcement of Jagr's penalty brings a loud cheer.

2:12: Sjostrom throws a loose puck on net from the top of the slot. Fleury gloves it easily. A Penguins official tells us Malkin has a facial laceration and his return is probable.

1:49: Rozsival is sent to the box for interference.

1:11: Killing a penalty, Brendan Shanahan drives the puck into the Penguins' zone. He holds it in the corner where Whitney wrestles with him. The puck is freed up and brough up ice. Whitney and Shanahan wrestle more. Shanahan loses his lid. The play is blown dead on an offsides call. Shanahan gives Whitney a shove in the other end of the ice and a small scrum ensues.

0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Rangers 1.

SECOND INTERMISSION

-The Rangers are out-shooting the Penguins, 18-10.

-The Penguins control the faceoff circle, 19-16.

-Crosby has logged an impressive 16:00 of ice time already.

-Best messages sent to the Jumbotron:

"Hossa for governor."

"Wu Letang forever"

"Lord Stanley Lord Stanley Bring me the brandy"

"USS Hal Gill!"

"Get well Geno"

THIRD PERIOD

20:00: Malkin has returned to the ice.

19:04: Rozsival sneaks in from the point with the puck. He gets Fleury to slide out but Rozsival can't capitalize and sends the puck through the crease.

16:53: Dubinsky comes up the left side and quickly throws a puck at Fleury's five hole. Fleury closes the gates and freezes play.

15:46: Scott Gomez, who we've hardly noticed until this point, is sent off for hooking.

14:16: Fleury and a Rangers player wrestle for a puck behind the net. Fleury looses his stick for a few tense moments.

13:41: "Your Love" by The Outfield is played during the Kiss Cam segment. Solid song.

13:20: Malone mashes Backman in the corner.

12:41: A reader writes:

"I was wondering if anyone out in EN reader land had any contacts at Schneider Dairy. I think it is time we get them to post a missing power-play photo on their milk cartons."

-Justin Kelly, Birmingham, Ala.

11:33: Georges Laraque slides a backhandes pass in the slot to Jordan Staal. Staal tries to slide a one-timer on net. Lundqvist is able to move over and make another fine save.

10:53: Sjostrom tries to jam in a wraparound. Fleury kicks it out.

9:12: Martin Straka is called for tripping. It's amazing what you can't pick up here in the press box. Apparently Crosby got a stick to the mouth. A reader writes:

"Major retraction by Pierre McGuire after saying Sid faked getting hit with the stick. Sid said the stick hit him in the teeth and showed McGuire the tape marks the stick left on his mouth guard. Pierre offered a contrite retraction."

-Tony Napoleone, Baltimore

7:59: A puck deflects out to the corner. Hossa grabs it and has an open net to fire into. Lundqvist is able to slide over and make a dazzling toe save. It's an amazing save by Lundqvist, but a player like Hossa needs to lift that a bit. He was brought in here to score those goals.

5:06: Letang gets two minutes for cross checking. There's some fan in a Brian Leetch jersey sitting in the front row of what we believe is A-27. Everytime the puck comes down to his end of the ice, he stands up and waves. Someone needs to stomp him. (Not literally mind you.)

3:04: The Penguins come up with a big penalty kill. The Rangers didn't mount much of an attack on that power play.

2:33: During a stoppage, a few "fans" can be seen leaving. Why even buy a ticket? It's a one-goal game with less than three minutes left against a divisional rival. Just pathetic.

1:02: Hossa tries to jam the puck in from the crease. Lundqvist says no.

0:47: Rob Scuderi "blisters" a shot on net. Lundqvist gets a glove on it. He almost seems like he's thinking about playing it to a teammate before he totally has a grasp on it however. Kind of like a wide receiver who grabs a pass and thinks about running before he has it completely caught. Lundqvist drops the puck. Hossa tries to force it in but Lundqvist's leg keeps it out. Talbot jumps in on the play and poke it into the empty net. Whatever the definition of a "clutch player" is, Lundqvist just displayed the exact opposite of it. That was a relatively easy save to make off Scuderi's shot and he totally dropped the ball...er... puck. It's very surprising a goaltender who led Sweden to the gold medal in the 2006 Olympics would do that. Penguins 3-1.

0:29: Paul Mara is called for holding.

0:00: End of period. The crowd rises to its feet and applauds the Penguins. Penguins 3, Rangers 1.

POSTGAME

-Henrik Lundqvist should get an assist on Talbot's goal.

-The Rangers out-shot the Penguins, 27-20.

-The Penguins won the faceoff battle, 30-25.

-If it's his last game at Mellon Arena, Jagr went out with out much of a bang. He had one assist, four shots, was a minus -1, and logged 19:15 of ice time.

-Crosby was second on the Penguins with 21:51 of ice time. Only Gonchar (26:43) had more.

-Malkin joined some pretty nice company with his 30th goal at home this season. The other 30-goal seasons at home for the Penguins were:

Mario Lemieux, 88-89 51

Mario Lemieux, 95-96 44

Mario Lemieux, 87-88 42

Mario Lemieux, 92-93 35

Kevin Stevens, 92-93 33

Jaromir Jagr, 95-96 32

Mike Bullard, 83-84 30

Rick Kehoe, 80-81 30

-The Penguins' power play went 1-for-8.

-Game Summary.

-Event Summary.



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