Goligoski saves face and a point

Penguins lose lead, win in shootout

He was not, Alex Goligoski insisted, driven by a desire for redemption.

Sure, the rookie defenseman's performance for much of the previous 65 minutes had been subpar, but that wasn't terribly relevant when the Penguins' game against Philadelphia at Mellon Arena moved into a shootout last night.

And it mattered even less after Goligoski became the only shooter on either team to score, giving the Penguins a 5-4 victory that ran their winning streak to five games.

"It definitely wasn't one of my best games, to say the least," he said. "But I guess for me, personally, it's nice to get the win and two points and kind of just forget about this one."

Goligoski claimed the second of those points for the Penguins by throwing a series of fakes at Flyers goalie Martin Biron, then tossing a forehand shot past him from close range.

"It's a move I've used before, and it worked," he said.

Never better than it did last night, as the Penguins improved to 10-4-2. They did not reach double figures in victories last season until their 23rd game.

While Goligoski was the hero of the shootout, goalie Dany Sabourin was its star. Sabourin had replaced Marc-Andre Fleury after two periods and, after turning aside 11 shots in the third period and overtime, stopped all six Philadelphia shooters during the shootout.

Sabourin was sharp in denying Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter, Kimmo Timonen, Joffrey Lupul and Scott Hartnett, but did his best work against Mike Richards, the Flyers' second shooter.

Richards appeared to have deked Sabourin out of position, but Sabourin was able to stretch and get his stick on Richards' shot as it reached the goal line.

"I was beat, but I didn't want to quit on it," Sabourin said. "You do whatever you can to stop it."

Biron had rejected Petr Sykora, Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Mirsolav Satan before Goligoski scored. Biron's final three saves compounded the pressure on Sabourin, because the game would have been over if the next Flyers shooter had been able to beat him.

The Penguins realize they shouldn't have been compelled to survive overtime, let alone a shootout.

They built a 3-0 lead during the first 24 minutes of regulation, only to see that advantage dissolve as Philadelphia ran off four unanswered goals.

"We have to realize that when we have teams down, we have to kick them," left winger Matt Cooke said.

The Penguins' ability to protect leads has been an issue for much of the season, and the Flyers' surge -- fueled largely by two short-handed goals by Gagne -- means it will remain a topic of conversation for a while longer.

"We have to find ways to protect leads, bad breaks or not," Crosby said. "We knew we made mistakes that allowed them to get back in the game. I don't think they earned that.

"We made it pretty easy with the mistakes we made. We've had some tough lessons and some ones we've gotten away with."

Cooke got the only goal of the first period -- and his first in 12 games with the Penguins -- at 7:06, and Malkin (1:11) and Crosby (3:51) scored early in the second to put the Penguins up by three.

But Carter beat Fleury at 7:46, and 66 seconds later, Gagne blocked a Goligoski shot during a Penguins power play, chased the puck down and moved in on Fleury before beating him with a backhander.

Gagne added another short-handed goal when he drove a shot past Fleury from above the right dot during a two-on-one at 13:56, and Lupul put the Flyers in front four seconds before the second intermission when a Timonen shot hit him and floated by Fleury. That goal came on the final shot Fleury would face.

"When you give up four goals in about 10 minutes, you've got to try to change things," Therrien said. "We've got confidence in Sabourin, so why not put him out there?"

That move paid off, in a big way. So did the one Therrien made by reuniting Crosby and Malkin midway through the third, as Crosby collected a puck that slid away from linemate Max Talbot and threw it past Biron from the slot at 17:27.

That put the game into overtime and, eventually, a shootout.

Then the outcome slipped into the hands of Goligoski, who earned the redemption he insisted he wasn't seeking.

Dave Molinari can be reached at dmolinari@post-gazette.com . First Published November 14, 2008 5:00 AM


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