Giving it up and getting it back

Dec. 28, 2007

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After giving up two goals on two brutal turnovers, Sergei Gonchar scores in overtime to give the Penguins a thrilling 4-3 win against the Capitals.

PREGAME

-No Jeff Jimerson. Disappointment.

-Ty Conklin gets the start in net for the Penguins.

-Brent Johnson is his counterpart for Washington.

-Rob Scuderi will take Mark Eaton's place alongside Sergei Gonchar.

-Mark Eaton and Ryan Malone are scratched for the Penguins.

-Steve Eminger, John Erskine and Quintin Laing are the Capitals' scratches.

FIRST PERIOD

18:49: Describing a spinning shot by Sidney Crosby, Bob Errey refers to it as "Savardian." Solid.

16:42: You could see this brewing as they skated up the ice. Donald Brashear and Georges Laraque decide to go at it again. It's their third fight in as many games. They square up for about 15 seconds, reach in on each other and slip. They recover to their feet and square up again for about 10 seconds. They get in tight on each other, with Laraque popping a few rabbit punches to the back of Brashear's head. Brashear responds with a few blows to the back of Laraque's head and they fall to the ice. We hate to keep beating a dead horse, but these fights between the heavyweights almost never live up to expectations.

16:19: Alexander Ovechkin is well worth the price of admission. He streaks into the offensive zone and unleashes a wicked wrist shot that misses the net and bounces off the back boards and all the way back behind his own net.

12:53: Laraque, wearing a microphone, can be heard demeaning Dan Potash. He must answer for that in our book.

10:19: David Steckel brings the puck into the zone and gets clipped on the blue line by Brooks Orpik by what was almost a knee-on-knee hit. No call.

9:12: Kris Letang Neil O'Donnell's a pass to Matt Bradley and makes a brutal turnover. Thankfully for the Penguins, Orpik is there to block Bradley's shot.

7:59: Jeff Taffe chips a puck by Nicklas Backstrom in the neutral zone. He reclaims the puck, enters the offensive zone and beats Johnson blocker-side with a nice wrister. It's his first goal in a Penguins uniform. Song 2 by Blur. Penguins 1-0.

4:36: What in the name of Josef Beranek was that? Conklin plays a puck to Gonchar from the slot. Gonchar tries to pass it off the backboards to Scuderi but he plays the wrong angle and it bounces off the side of the net. Boyd Gordon is Johnny-on-the spot. He grabs it and feeds a soft pass to Brashear who punches the puck past a helpless Conklin for his second goal since Andy Richter left Late Night with Conan O'Brien. We think. Ugleeeee. Capitals 1, Penguins 1.

2:29: Crosby knocks down a loose puck and bangs a shot on net. Johnson makes the save and Crosby fires the rebound back. Johnson makes the save again and Crosby fires another rebound at net. This one misses however and hits the back boards.

2:07: Ryan Whitney sneaks in on net and blasts a slapper. Johnson makes the save and the rebounds trickles across the crease into the corner. Armstrong goes after it and backhands it towards the net. The puck hits off Milan Jurcina's stick and ricochets through Johnson's equipment and into the net. Uggleeee. Also ugly was how Johnson injured his leg scrambling for the puck. The trainer comes out to attend to him. He recovers to his feet and receives a polite applause. The cheers turn to jeers when Olaf Kolzig replaces Johnson. A combination of "Olllll-eeeeeee! Olllll-eeeeee!" and "Kolllllllll-zzzziggggg! Kollllll-zigggggg!" can be heard. Penguins 2-1.

0:16: Ovechkin gives a quick jab to Jordan Staal's back and is given two minutes for cross checking. It's a questionable call at best.

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

-The Penguins will get 1:43 of power-play time on clean ice.

-The Penguins own a 9-5 advantage in shots.

-Other than saying "every player on the Penguins is good," what exactly was the point of Bob Errey's "how-to-be-a-general-manager" piece?

SECOND PERIOD

14:36: Backstrom leaves a soft drop pass for Brian Pothier who bombs a one-timer through Conklin's five-hole. Petr Sykora may have screened Conklin but it's a weak goal to give up. Capitals 2, Penguins 2.

12:32: Jarkko Ruutu absolutely hammers Alexander Semin in the corner with a hard body check. Semin lays in the corner stunned and play is stopped so he can return to the bench. He has a slight cut on his chin.

11:40: Cotton candy heeeee!!!! Cotton candy heeee!!!

1:34: Gonchar strikes again. Conklin settles a loose puck behind the net for Gonchar. Backstrom pressures Gonchar and forces a turnover. Ovechkin swoops in, grabs the loose puck and pounds a wrist shot by Conklin who was left out to dry. Capitals 3-2.

0:03: Shaone Morrisson dives and takes out Evgeni Malkin's skates with his stick. No call.

0:00: End of a brutal period for the Penguins. Capitals 3-2.

SECOND INTERMISSION

-The Capitals are out-shooting the Penguins, 17-15.

-Kudos to whoever sent the "Hey Empty Netters" text message to the video board. We owe you a dime.

-Andre Savard is interviewed before the third period. No Mike Yeo. Not cool.

THIRD PERIOD

18:59: Ovechkin slams Crosby along the boards with a solid check and appears to get the elbow up a bit. Crosby responds with a punch to the face. Somehow nothing is called.

17:14: Replays show Semin popping Ruutu in the face with a shot to the face. No call.

15:37: As Colby Armstrong is given two minutes for interference, Ovechkin leave the ice for the Capitals locker room. He will not return for the rest of the night.

13:23: Armstrong dishes a backhand pass to Crosby who splits the defense and generates a breakaway. He loses his footing but is still able to get a shot off. Kolzig make the save.

9:27: With a television time-out, several "fans" begin to leave. That's inexcusable. It's a one-goal game against a rival. Short of an emergency, you have no reason to leave this game.

6:03: Crosby enters the offensive zone and slides a backhanded pass to Ryan Whitney at the top of the slot. Whitney sends a pass to Evgeni Malkin in the crease and he tries to re-direct it on net. Kolzig is able to get his left leg down and make the save.

4:12: Morrisonn shoves Malkin into the boards away from the play and gets two minutes for roughing. It looked like a bogus call in our book.

2:19: Letang fires a loose puck on net. Kolzig makes the save with his right leg. The rebound gets kicked around before Staal can get some wood on it. Kolzig make the miraculous save with his right arm.

2:16: Erik Christensen wins the faceoff and Darryl Sydor bombs a slapper that deflects off Jurcina and beats Kolzig. It's Sydor's first goal as a Penguin and it couldn't come at a better time. Good thing all those "fans" left to beat traffic. It's not like they would've missed something dramatic or anything. Capitals 3, Penguins 3.

0:03: Crosby lobs an "arch" pass to Malkin across the slot that Malkin one-times. It beats Kolzig to the far-side, but clinks off the post. No goal.

0:00: End of period. Capitals 3, Penguins 3.

OVERTIME

-Right before the overtime session started, Errey almost makes a plea to bring Mark Recchi back.

3:27: Crosby grabs the puck from the corner and works it towards the net. He slides a backhanded pass to Gonchar at the point and he blasts a one-timer that beats a screened Kolzig glove-side. End of game. Penguins 4, Capitals 3.

Rob Scuderi celebrates Sergei Gonchar's winning goal in overtime as if he were on Ritalin.


POSTGAME

-Is it us, or are the Penguins making a big mistake playing Gonchar and Letang on the "wrong" sides of the power play? In other words, why is Letang on the right side when he's a right-handed shot and vice versa with Gonchar. Playing the two in this fashion doesn't really allow either of them to fire off a one-timer.

-Orpik played an inspired game. He led all players with five blocked shots and threw his body around. It's amazing how motivated you can get when you're sitting in the press box.

-We have to wonder if Gonchar was thrown off by not having Mark Eaton riding shotgun with him. Other than his game-winning goal, he just looked off tonight.

-Bruce Boudreau could pose a serious challenge to Claude Julien for the title of oddest-looking bald NHL head coach.

-It appears the reason Ovechkin left the game was due to an errant kick by Letang:

-We don't have medical degrees or anything, but that's not a good way for a guy to get kicked.

-As good as the Christensen-Laraque-Roberts line looked Sunday, it looked out of synch last night.

-Ty Conklin looked solid.

-Best jerseys we saw: Konstantin Koltsov Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Mario Lemieux 1990 All-Star Game, Paul Coffey, Rick Tocchet, Evgeni Malkin Magnitogorsk, Malkin Team Russia and Dick Tarnstrom.

-EN Reader Dan Stokes tells us he spotted a Darryl Sittler jersey at the Souper Bowl. Quality.

-Best tassel cap (or toque if you're Canadian, eh) we saw: Quebec Nordiques.

-Dave Molinari's recap.

-Game Summary.

-Event Summary.

-Highlights:

EMPTY NETTER ASSISTS

Penguins

-Marc-Andre Fleury skated for the first time since suffering his ankle injury.

-How exactly are the Penguins going to replace Mark Eaton?

-Someone made a time elapse video of the rink construction at Ralph Wilson Stadium:

-Michel Therrien destroyed some reporter at a press conference recently:

-David Brown made 38 saves for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in a 3-1 win at Syracuse.

-Aaron Clarke and Joe Jensen scored the only goals for the Wheeling Nailers who were routed, 8-2, by Cincinnati.

-FSN Pittsburgh overlord Steve Tello is leaving town. In case you haven't heard, he's the guy who fired Mike Lange. Don't let the door hit... you know the rest.

Atlantic Division

-Joffrey Lupul scored two goals for the Flyers in a 4-1 win against the Maple Leafs.

-Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro and defensemen Radek Martinek are day-to-day with leg injuries.

Northeast Division

-Alexei Kovalev and Andrei Markov each had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens who claimed a 5-2 win at Tampa Bay.

-Jason Spezza had a goal and an assist for the Senators who rolled to a 5-2 win against the Islanders.

Southeast Division

-Nathan Horton scored twice for the Panthers in a 5-3 win at Atlanta. Mark Recchi scored a goal for the Thrashers. He now has nine points in as many games since leaving the Penguins.

Central Division

-Valterri Filppula scored twice for the Red Wings in a 4-2 win at Colorado.

-Ville Koistinen scored his first career NHL goal and had two assists for the Predators who edged the Blue Jackets, 4-3.

-The Blues put defenseman Barrett Jackman on injured reserve with a concussion.

-The Blue Jackets put forward Manny Malhotra and Mike Peca on injured reserve with knee and head injuries respectively.

-The Predators are still having trouble selling tickets. Good thing they didn't raise ticket prices this season. Oh wait...

Northwest Division

-Nicklas Backstrom made 46 saves and Eric Belanger had a goal and two assists for the Wild which edged the Coyotes, 3-2.

-Taylor Pyatt, Mason Raymond and Daniel and Henrik Sedin each recorded a goal and an assist for the Canucks in a 5-3 win against the Flames.

-Avalanche center Joe Sakic will undergo surgery for a hernia. He is expected to miss 8-to-12 weeks.

Pacific Division

-Doug Weight scored a goal with 3:39 remaining in regulation and lifted the Ducks to a 2-1 win at Edmonton.

-Ducks center Samuel Pahlsson will miss at least three games with an abdominal injury.



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