Marian Hossa sheds his poor playoff reputation by scoring two goals, including one in overtime, in the Penguins' series-clinching 3-2 win against the Rangers.
When we normally attend Penguins games on a professional basis, we usually park down by the Post-Gazette's building for free and take the "T" up to Mellon Arena. As long as you ride the "T" downtown, it's free as well.
We're cheapskate journalists. You'll understand if we don't feel like paying $7 to park in some cruddy gravel lot.
Anyway, we bypassed taking the "T" up today because we simply had to experience this wonderful day in Pittsburgh. It's partly cloudy and a brisk 58 degrees or so. It's a spectacular day.
Out in front of Mellon Arena, there's someone dressed up like a pig protesting Allegheny County's drink tax:
The lawn out front with the big screen was absolutely packed an hour and a half prior to the game:
We feel guilt watching this game indoors. It seems like too good a day to waste behind a computer. Yeah, "poor" us. We get to watch a Penguins playoff game for free. And that's "work" for us. Still, it's a fantastic day.
The arena is still empty for the most part. The Proclaimers' "500 Miles" is playing.
-A few jerseys we saw:
-Jaromir Jagr Czech Republic:
(Mario Lemieux came out of the owner's suite and burnt that guy for two goals. We think.)
-Jarkko Ruutu Finland
(We like ran over three toddlers to get a picture of that one.)
(It's a head's up fan that wears a Mark Eaton jersey. Either that or Mark Eaton's cousin.)
-If you're reading along, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-A reader from the Big Apple writes:
I went to Mass and ran some errands prior to the game. When I'm not working, I'm usually wearing a Rangers t-shirt and a cap.
Anyway, I was walking along one of the main drags in Queens when I passed a guy. Thought nothing of it until he yelled out, "Rangers are going down! Let's go, Penguins!"
So, there's at least one Pens fan in NYC.
-It got dark in here:
-The Penguins come onto the ala the Miami Hurricanes:
-Jimerson (do we really need to tell you his name is Jeff?) blows our ears out with the national anthem.
-The Penguins scratched Maxime Talbot, Jeff Taffe, Kris Beech, Darryl Sydor and Dany Sabourin.
-The Rangers scratched their usual contingent of 43 AHL'ers.
-The game rosters can be viewed here.
19:38: "LET'S GO PENS! LET'S GO PENS!"
19:08: Ryan Callahan checks a Penguin in the corner and loses his lid.
18:25: Kris Letang has a chance in tight but shoots the puck juuust wide.
17:50: After the Penguins controled the puck for about a minute and a half in the Rangers' zone, the fans offer an ovation.
16:54: Jaromir Jagr touches the puck for the first time today and is booed.
15:25: Petr Sykora pushes a wrister just wide of the net.
14:38: Jarkko Ruutu checks Michal Rozsival and the "Ruuuuuu's" ring out.
13:52: Brooks Orpik throws a wrister on net from the left boards. Henrik Lundqvist eats it up.
13:50: A reader writes:
I'm watching from Ireland, but my dad called me before the game started to tell me that during the sermon at church today, the priest was talking about "burning questions." Along with "When will oil prices drop?" and "Can the economy rebound from the recession?" the priest asked, "How far will the Penguins go in the playoffs, and what would Gary Roberts do?"
Welcome to the playoffs in Pittsburgh.
13:38: Jordan Staal has a chance at a loose puck in the crease, but can't quite get his stick on it.
13:23: Jagr takes a hooking call and is offered a rare cheer from the Mellon Arena crowd. Jagr shakes his head.
12:31: Ryan Malone grabs a loose puck behind the net and tries to jam it in on a wraparound. Lundqvist holds it out.
12:25: A scrum in front of the net takes place. Malone emerges without his helmet.
11:15: Ryan Whitney throws a shot on net from the right point. Lundqvist kicks it out with his right leg.
10:30: Ruutu dumps Brandon Dubinsky in front of the Rangers bench.
9:38: Gary Roberts and Ryan Hollweg have a rather rough and tumble collison in front of the penalty boxes.
9:13: During a commercial stoppage, highlights from the Flyers' win last night are shown on the Jumbotron and are booed.
8:55: We can't get a good picture of it because we're on the other side of the arena, but there are some Rangers fans holding up a Czech Republic flag in C-27.
7:27: A puck hits off the side of Jason Strudwick in the neutral zone. Tyler Kennedy jumps on it and sprints down ice. He gets a backhander off that misses the net.
7:03: Ruutu is sent off for holding. NBC replays a hit Ruutu had on Jagr in the 2006 Olympics.
4:55: Evgeni Malkin and Marian Hossa force the puck into the offensive zone and kill off the penalty. A cheer if offered.
4:38: Gary Roberts drops Paul Mara behind the net. Mara doesn't seem to interested in answering back. "Garrr-Eeeee! Garrrr-Eeee!" During a commercial break, Ben Roethlisberger is shown in a luxury suite and is offered a cheer.
3:27: Ruutu throws a puck on net from the point. Lundqvist easily blocks it away.
2:37: Mike Milbury is between the benches? Who do we hug for not forcing us to endure Pierre McGuire?
2:37: Malkin is sent off for interference.
2:00: Dan Girardi throws a puck on net from the point. Fleury easily gloves it.
00:30ish: Scott Gomez dishes a puck into the slot for Nigel Dawes for a re-direct but it's pushed just wide.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 0, Rangers 0.
-The Penguins had a 10-7 advantage in shots that period.
-They also had an edge in faceoffs, 8-7.
-That was a fairly entertaining period without a lot of scoring opportunities. There was a lot of flow and skating, but that didn't really translate into a lot of quality shots on net.
-Best text messages sent to the Jumbotron:
"Gary Roberts invented the text message."
"The Rangers almost lost to Mystery, Alaska."
19:01: Sidney Crosby dishes a pass in the right faceoff circle for a streaking Hossa. Hossa overskates it, loses balance and fails to get a shot on net.
18:28: Ryan Malone's stick swings up and clips Chris Drury in the face drawing blood. It's a pretty nasty cut. Drury has a lot of blood on his jersey and visor but seems fine for the most part. He's helped to the ramp and to the locker room fro repairs. Attendants come out and scrap his blood off the ice. We're kind of surprised Malone didn't get a penalty for that. That said, replays seem to show his stick getting pushed up by a Rangers player. Attendance is announced as 17,132.
17:58: Malkin pushes a shot just wide.
17:44: Jagr takes down the guy renting his house, Sykora, and is sent off. Perhaps the loudest cheer all day is given for Jagr.
16:24: Brendan Shanahan fires a quick shot on net. Fleury kicks it out.
15:43: Jagr's penalty expires without the Penguins mounting much of an attack.
14:45: Georges Laraque is nailed for hooking Jason Strudwick.
14:36: Sergei Gonchar drops Dubinsky behind the net.
12:49: Ryan Hollweg knocks Malkin to the ice with a nice check.
12:10: Rozsival is called for tripping.
11:15: What a pretty goal. Crosby controls the puck in the corner and zips a pass into the slot for Malone. Malone controls the puck and dishes it to Hossa in the left faceoff circle and he fires it into an empty net. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1, Rangers 0.
11:05: Rozsival must've forgot his car keys or something because he went back to the penalty box. This time it's for hooking.
9:03: Roberts has a chance in front but can't quite get it by Lundqvist.
8:55: Crosby rips a shot from the slot. Lundqvist knocks it away.
7:20: Malkin takes the puck and charges through the neutral zone and into the Rangers' zone. Mara tips the puck away from him for a moment. Malkin simply spins and fires a backhander on net that burns Lundqvist. Through the cheers and music you can hear a faint "Geee-Nooo! Geee-Nooo!" Before the ensuing faceoff, Jagr complains to an official about something. Penguins 2-0.
6:39: Jordan Staal is sent off for holding. Can anyone watching the NBC broadcast tell us if the Staals have been brothers yet?
4:35: Malkin takes the puck off a fallen Ranger at the point and pushes it up ice into the offensive zone. He winds up and blasts a slapper that is no where near the net and smakes the glass.
2:58: Rozsival must've forgot his cell phone too. He hauls down Gary Roberts and returns to the penalty box. "Garr-Eeee! Garrr-Eee!"
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Rangers 0.
-The Penguins are up in shots, 27-11. They out-shot New York, 17-4 that period alone.
-They're also controlling the faceoffs, 20-13.
-One period away from a showdown with the Flyers.
-According to several EN readers, not only have the Staals been brothers a few times during the game, they were brother prior to. An interview with Jordan was aired prior to the game.
-According to many readers as well, Mike Milbury is as bad or even worse than Pierre McGuire. Wow. That's bad.
-NBC should consider giving that job to Darren Pang. He worked between the benches during the Winter Classic and we thought he did pretty fair job. He's pretty enthusiastic about the game and he doesn't have that smug, I-know-everything-and-you-should-listen-to-everything-I-have-to-say attitude McGuire does.
18:05: Malkin pounds a slapper from the point. Lundqvist kicks it out.
17:57: That was a bad goal to give up. Lauri Korpikoski (who?) simply come up ice and rips a wrister by Fleury's glove. Ugleeee. Penguins 2-1.
16:35: Ugh... Sloppy defense on this one. Gomez dishes a pass into the slot for Dawes. Dawes walks in untouched and sneaks a backhander by Fleury's leg. Penguins 2, Rangers 2.
15:22: Hossa has a few chances in the crease with the puck but can't quite seem to pull the trigger.
13:53: Hal Gill appears to get away with a trip on Gomez.
12:59: Orpik tries to run over Petr Pruch who gets out of the way at the last minute.
11:29: A small cadre of Rangers fans try to start a "Let's Go Rayn-Gerrrs!" chant. That's immediately drowned out by a "LET"S GO PENS! LETS GO PENS!"
7:53: Those Rangers fans aren't giving it up. "Let's Go Rayn-Gers!" The Penguins fans aren't giving it up either. "LET'S GO PENS!"
7:19: This really has nothing to do with the game at the moment, but someone just sent us an eBay listing for an autographed Mike Yeo Houston Aeros jersey. We don't know how we'll be able to finish watching this game let alone blog it.
4:17: Ruutu knocks Callahan to the ice. The game as slowed down a bit here. Neither team seems really willing to take a chance and give the opposing team an opportunity.
1:35: The Penguins nearly had an opportunity to take the lead but the Rangers net was dislodged.
1:18: What is it about this team getting power plays at the end of tied games? Chris Drury tries to clear a loose puck in his crease and accidently clips Malone in the face. Apparently it drew blood and it's a "four-minuter" as Bob Errey would say.
0:28: Malkin swoops behind the net and feeds a pass to Crosby. Crosby fires a shot but Lundqvist stands in there and makes the save.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Rangers 2.
-The one word no crusty old hockey writer wants to hear, "overtime."
-The Penguins are out-shooting New York, 34-22.
-The Penguins have a 25-21 advantage in faceoffs.
-The Rangers will still have 2:41 of penalty time to kill on clean ice.
-Best message sent to the Jumbotron:
"I have finals tomorrow evening. Let's end this today."
-Most depressing because it makes us feel old message sent to the Jumbotron:
"I was born June 1, 1992, the last time we won the Cup!"
We know we're jinxing things here, but thankfully, only one overtime these playoffs has gone to two extra periods. So after noting that, we're sure we're doomed to a five-overtime extravaganza.
19:38: Malone chops a one-timer on net. Lundqvist kicks it out.
19:33: Malkin blasts a slapper from the point. Lundqvist snares it with his glove.
18:29: Crosby feeds a pass to Malkin in the slot. Malkin's shots hits nothing but boards.
17:23: Sykora dances to the front of the net and tries to jam it in. No dice.
17:18: Drury's second penalty expires and the Rangers dodge a big bullet.
13:38: Gill rubs out Jagr along the boards with a solid check.
12:50: What a moment! Girardi kicks a puck into the slot. Hossa swats it by Lundqvist to win the game. His teammates swarm him along the boards. Absolute insanity in here. The Rangers look totally devastated on the bench. The teams line up to exchange handshakes. Jagr steps off Mellon Arena ice as a player for possibly the last time. Hossa gets interviewed by Mike Milbury and leaves the ice to applause. Wow. "Song 2" by Blur is played. What we've just witnessed was exactly why playoff hockey is amazing. Penguins 3, Rangers 2.
-What else can you say about Marian Hossa? He's finally come through in the playoffs. After years of struggling when the calendar hit April or May, he comes through with a clutch performance.
-Looking forward to the Eastern Conference final against the Flyers, Michel Therrien said, "This is going to be a fun series to be a part of."
-In a slightly amusing moment caused by language problems, a reporter asked Hossa if he felt like he got the monkey off his back. Hossa didn't know how to respond and almost seemed to literally be wondering why an ape would be on his back.
-On his overtime goal, Hossa said, "It was a lucky one."
-On the Flyers-Penguins rivalry, Crosby said, "We know it's always intense in the playoffs, but it throws a little bit of spice into it when it's Philadelphia and Pittsburgh."
-Rangers coach Tom Renney said the Penguins beat his team fair and square.
-EN reader Michael Scheimer spotted this Matthew Barnaby jersey prior to the game:
-The Penguins out-shot the Rangers 40-22.
-Faceoffs were even, 25-25.
-Evgeni Malkin had 10 shots on goal.
-The last time the Penguins went to overtime and won, was Game 7 of the 2001 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Sabres. You may recall the winning goal: