Fourth down

Jan. 25, 2008

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The Penguins lose to the Flyers for the fourth consecutive game, 4-3.

PREGAME

-Leading into the broadcast, Paul Steigerwald says, "When you come to Philadelphia, you better bring some sandpaper." What the heck does that mean? Was there some sort of inside joke we missed or do you need to show off the ability to work with wood fixtures before you can enter the city?

-The Penguins scratched Tim Brent, Tyler Kennedy and Chris Minard.

-The Flyers scratches were Jesse Boulerice and Lasse Kukkonen.

FIRST PERIOD

19:44: We get the line combinations early tonight from FSN Pittsburgh:

Malone-Malkin-Sykora

Talbot-Staal-Armstrong

Ruutu-Christensen-Filewich

Stone-Taffe-Laraque

19:02: Jordan Staal goes for the kill early. He grabs a loose puck swoops by Steve Downie and tries to jam the puck by Martin Biron. The puck pops up in the air and is cleared from the crease.

17:41: That didn't take long. Georges Laraque and Riley Cote drop the gloves off a faceoff. They size each other up for about 10 seconds. Laraque grabs Cote's collar pulls him in and lands a punch. Cote falls but Laraque allows him to recover to his feet. They spin around about seven times with Laraque throwing and landings several blows. Cote regains some control and connects a few. The fight ends when Laraque hits Cote with a big left and falls over with Cote on top of him.

16:05: Ty Conklin gets his first real test as Richards blasts a slapper from the right faceoff circle. Conklin easily kicks it out.

15:17: Off a faceoff, Simon Gagne spins a fires a puck on net it clunks off the post and deflects out.

14:16: Sami Kapanen flies into the offensive zone past Brooks Orpik. Orpik slashes him but Kapanen is able to get a shot on net. Conklin makes the save and Orpik goes to the box.

12:16: A deflected shot bounces into the right faceoff circle to Randy Jones. He hesitates for moment and fires it into an empty net. Conklin is able to recover and make a nice diving save.

10:26: Just as Bob Errey apologizes for referring to Daniel Briere as Michel Briere, Daniel Briere wins the faceoff. Jason Smith fires a slapper from the point. The shot gets deflected. R.J. Umberger grabs it and throws a wrister past Conklin. "Bro Hymn" by Pennywise (which is an idea they stole from the Ducks) is played. Flyers 1-0.

9:08: Evgeni Malkin leaves a drop pass for Petr Sykora who snaps a wrister from the slot. Biron makes the save with his left leg. Ryan Malone grabs the rebound and tries to jam it behind Biron but no dice. A small scrum ensues.

3:23: Jarkko Ruutu gets the puck in the crease and gets walloped by Derian Hatcher. Ruutu loses the puck but Malkin picks it up, controls it and sneaks it underneath Biron for a goal. If Hatcher wasn't worried about hitting Ruutu, he could've been in better position to defend Malkin. Flyers 1, Penguins 1.

2:06: Malkin and Sykora approach the net on a two-on-one. Makin tries to center the pass to Sykora, but Jason Smith makes a marvelous play by flopping to his knees and poking the puck away. You might not like the colors Smith wears, but you have to respect him. He's a real hockey player. If we could, we'd make up a corp of blue-liners consisting of five Peter Ahola's and one Jason Smith.

1:41: Ruutu enters the offensive zone and sends a cross-ice pass to Jonathan Filewich. Filewich rifles a wrister on net and Biron snags it for the save.

1:04: Ruutu runs over Umberger with a check along the boards.

0:37: Kimmo Timonen puts a hug on Ruutu and gets two minutes. During the brief stoppage, Asia's "Heat of the Moment" is played for some reason:

0:03: Off the faceoff, Ryan Whitney blasts a slapper from the point. Biron makes the save and Ryan Malone runs him over. Malone gets two minutes and nullifies the Penguins' power play.

0:00: End of period. Flyers 1, Penguins 1.

FIRST INTERMISSION

-Errey sort of hints that Biron may have embellished the contact with Malone. Sorry, but if that was Scott Hartnell running over Conklin, Errey would be crying murder.

-The Flyers own a 12-8 advantage in shots.

-We get a shot of someone wearing a Bernie Parent jersey in the stands. Solid.

-We'll get 1:23 of four-on-four hockey to start the period.

SECOND PERIOD

17:36: Ruutu puts his arm around Hartnell's shoulder. Errey calls it a "tough call" which is absurd. Ruutu wasn't that far away from putting a choke hold on Hartnell.

14:08: During a stoppage, you can see someone wearing a Donald Brashear jersey in the stands. Not solid.

13:24: As Steigerwald reminds Penguins fans of Keith Primeau's goal against the Penguins in the 2000 playoffs, Derian Hatcher's wonderful skating ability comes through as he falls and clips Maxime Talbot in the face with his stick. Talbot falls and holds his face. The always classy fans of Philadelphia boo Maxime Talbot as he recovers to his feet and skates to the ice. What a wonderful city. Somehow, nothing is called.

13:01: A loose puck trickles into the crease and Conklin quickly covers it. Downie pushes Rob Scuderi on top of a prone Conklin. Class. Class. Class.

12:44: Filewich thumps Gagne to the ice with a nice check.

11:41: Sergei Gonchar and Mike Knuble wrestle for the puck behind the net. Gonchar gets a penalty for hooking while Knuble goes off for holding the stick. Other than the non-call on the high stick by Hatcher, the officials are doing a nice job of keeping this game in check.

10:41: Malkin has an opportunity to go one-on-one with Jones. But he elects to skate along the blue line and runs into Jim Vandermeer and loses the puck.

9:42: Ugh. As we come back from commercial, video of Primeau's goal against the Penguins is shown. We call party foul.

9:11: Kris Letang hits Scottie Upshall from behind along the boards. Not a good play by Letang. Two minutes.

7:01: As the penalty expires, the Flyers catch the Penguins running around in their own end. Umberger sends a cross-ice pass to Hartnell across the slot. Hartnell holds it and waits for Conklin to commit. He then spots Jones coming down the crease and sends him a pass. Jones buries it into an empty cage. Talbot breaks his stick off the crossbar. The officials probably could've given Talbot an unsportsmanlike play penalty or even a delay of game considering the time it took to clean up his stick. Flyers 2-1.

5:49: Darryl Sydor gets away with a trip on Jeff Carter.

4:44: Filewich grabs a loose puck in the crease and fires a shot. Biron makes the save and Smith runs over Filewich.

3:50: Hatcher runs right into Ty Conklin as if he's on a Slip 'n Slide. Errey expresses disgust that Hatcher didn't try to slow down. Errey must've forgotten skating isn't exactly something Hatcher excels at. Either way, that probably should've been two minutes.

3:29: As we come back from commercial, Errey suggests Hatcher might've been paying back the Penguins for taking runs at Biron back on Dec. 11.

2:56: Briere knicks Conklin in the crease and finally a penalty is called. The officials must've realized their mistake with the non-call against Hatcher.

2:06: Whitney slides a pass along the blue line to Gonchar who blasts a one-timer from the point that finds its way through traffic and beats Biron. Sykora gets credit for the goal. Flyers 2, Penguins 2.

0:02: Oh boy. Laraque pushes Downie from behind head first into the boards. Downie falls and crashes into the boards hard. The Flyers surround Laraque but officials are quick to separate them. A trainer attends to Downie who is lying on the ice in bad shape. He rolls over with a dazed look on his face. Downie is able to recover to his feet and skates to the bench hunched over. The Flyers fans applaud him as he goes to the team's locker room. It's a really stupid play by Laraque. He'll be suspended for that. For the time being, he gets a five minute major and a game misconduct.

0:00: End of period. Cote tries to contribute to the situation by trying to fight Malone. Cote gets a game misconduct. Flyers 2, Penguins 2.

SECOND INTERMISSION

-The Penguins are getting dominated in shot, 21-13.

-Why in the world would Steven try to nullify his team's power play by putting a useless hack like Cote on the ice? Why haven't the Flyers won the Stanley Cup in over 30 years again?

-Andre Savard is interviewed before the third period. No Mike Yeo. No joy.

-Downie returns to the bench. It'll be interesting to see how he reacts if he gets on the ice.

-Jeff Taffe will serve Laraque's penalty.

THIRD PERIOD

19:45: The public address announcer refers to Taffe as Taff.

19:16: Richards takes a pass from Briere, moves into the slot, switches to the backhand and rings a shot off the post.

16:55: The Penguins clear the puck and the Flyers fans begin to boo their team's effort with the man advantage. To this point, they have only one shot on net this period.

16:07: Vandermeer blasts a slapper from the point and the puck gets by Conklin. As the Flyers celebrate Conklin sort of pulls a mini Ron Hextall and jumps Carter who pretty much skates away. Flyers 3-2.

15:45: Errey kind of invents a word by saying there were only 45 seconds left on the "Laraque five-minuter."

15:09: What in the name of Chris Tamer was that? Shorthanded, Malone grabs a loose puck in the neutral zone. He gets behind the defense and generates a breakaway. He goes to the backhand and tries to beat Biron five-hole. Biron stands him up. Jordan Staal crashes the net trying to get to the rebound and falls over Biron. He dislodges the net. Just before the net completely goes off its moorings, Whitney fires the rebound into the cage. Officials call it a goal but a replay is need for this one. Uh wow. What's the call here? Errey says the net needs to be off the moorings completely for the goal to be nullified. Replays show it being up but not off it's moorings before the puck crosses the goal line. After a lengthy review, the goal stands. The Flyers fans boo and Steigerwald says their doing that because they don't realize the rule. Steigerwald doesn't realize they're Philly fans. They don't realize anything and just boo. Flyers 3, Penguins 3.

14:35: It doesn't take long for the Flyers to get that one back. Carter skates in along the boards and throws the puck into the crease. Mike Knuble wrestles for it and is able to jam it past Conklin. Flyers 4-3.

14:26: Downie and Stone decide to go at it at the Penguins blue line. They throw a couple of wild punches before Stone's jersey is pulled over his head. Downie wrestles him to the ice and throws a couple punches. Not only did Downie throw punches at Stone as he lay on the ice, he wore a visor and his fight strap didn't appear to be tied down. Shouldn't he get kicked out for that?

13:21: Umberger and Staal chase a loose puck in the Penguins zone. Conklin comes out of his crease to play it but he can't get it out of the zone. Richards keeps it in and Gagne throws it at the net. Conklin makes the initial save way out of the crease. The puck richochets into the slot where Carter tries to backhand it in. Orpik appears to get a piece of it and keeps the puck out. As play is stopped Vandermeer tries to start something with Armstrong but officials break it up. As we come back from commercial, we're told Stone is kicked out for not having his jersey tied down during his fight with Downie.

11:54: Hartnell appears to have a breakaway but can't quite control the puck. Conklin is able to poke check it away.

9:10: Ruutu and Smith go in the corner. Ruutu gets run over.

9:03: Filewich works the puck from behind the net, turns to the forehand and fires a shot. Biron makes the save initially. The rebound kicks off Smith's skate and almost goes in.

5:20: Steigerwald corrects himself and mentions that it was Downie who in fact didn't have his jersey tied down and was booted from the game.

1:22: Whitney throws a wrister on net that Biron gloves. Michel Therrien calls a time out.

1:01: Conklin leaves the ice in favor of an extra attacker.

0:49: Malone is called for hooking.

0:00: End of game. Flyers 4, Penguins 3.

POSTGAME

-Uh. Remember when the Penguins went 8-0-0 against the Flyers last season? Yeah, we don't either.

-This was kind of like the Capitals game Monday night in that you may not have liked the end result as a Penguins fan, but as a hockey fan, you had to be entertained.

-The Flyers went into full-on New Jersey Devils mode the last six minutes of the game and played a trap.

-Pardon us if we've brought this up before, but are we the only ones that think it's ludicrous you can get kicked out of a game for not having your fight strap tied down but not for actually fighting?

-Outside of his holding penalty, Ruutu seemed to play a strong "Jarkko Ruutu" type of game. He seemed to be getting his nose dirty just about every time he was out there.

-Was it us or did Downie seem to not put up a ton of resistance against Laraque in the corner when he was injured? We're not condoning what Laraque did by any means, but Downie didn't help matters by putting himself in that position.

-We're not dismissing the possibility Downie took a dive either or even embellished the injury. It's Steve Downie after all. He tried to knock Dean McAmmond's head off and he also tried to poke out Jason Blake's eye. He's not exactly a Lady Byng candidate. He was apparently healthy enough afterwards to fight Ryan Stone.

-Glass is half-full: At least the Penguins didn't get blown out of the building like the last three games against the Flyers.

-Glass is half-empty: The Penguins are now 5-11-1 against the Atlantic Division.

-Dave Molinari's recap.

-Game Summary.

-Event Summary.

-Highlights.

LEETCH'S NUMBER RETIRED

Brian Leetch had his No. 2 retired by the Rangers last night. MSG provided some nice, embeddable videos of the event:

As Penguins fans, you may not have enjoyed seeing Leetch come to the Civic/Mellon Arena. He is eighth all-time in career points against the Penguins with 92 and he is the Rangers all-time leading scorer against Pittsburgh with 89 points.

But you had to respect the guy as a player. He was the last defenseman to record a 100-point season when he racked up 102 in 1991-92. He simply played the sport right:

EMPTY NETTER ASSISTS

Penguins

-The Penguins will open next season in Sweden. No word yet if this guy will handle the team's catering:

-Brooks Oprik wants to stay a Penguin.

-Mario Lemieux is in the best shape of his life.

-The Wheeling Nailers released former Penguins defenseman Francois Leroux. (Kudos to EN reader Jamie Peklicz for spotting that.)

Atlantic Division

-Brendan Shanahan's shootout goal gave the Rangers a 2-1 win against the Thrashers.

-Jaromir Jagr wants to remain a Ranger.

Northeast Division

-Daniel Alfredsson scored seven points (three goals and four assists) and set a franchise record for the Senators in an 8-4 rout at Tampa Bay.

-Former Penguins forward Bryan Smolinski scored two goals for the Canadiens in a 4-3 win at New Jersey.

-The Bruins got a goal and an assist each from Marc Savard and Dennis Wideman in a 4-1 win against the Islanders.

-Two goals by Derek Roy gave the Sabres a 2-1 win at Dallas.

Southeast Division

-Brent Johnson made 31 saves for the Capitals who edged the Maple Leafs, 2-1.

-In the loss to Ottawa, Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle played his first game after missing 36 following wrist surgery and scored two goals. Tampa Bay head coach John Tortorella set a record for NHL games coached by an American-born coach by appearing in his 507th.

-Was the punishment Thrashers forward Ilya Kovalchuk received for checking Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival enough?

-The Capitals re-signed enforcer Donald Brashear to a one-year contract extenstion.

-Laraque wasn't the only one to hit someone from behind last night. Capitals defenseman John Erskine did the same to Maple Leafs forward Nikolai Antropov:

-Capitals forward David Steckel did the same thing to Toronto defenseman Ian White as well:

Central Division

-Pascal Leclaire made 30 saves and recorded his league-leading eighth shutout in the Blue Jacket's 1-0 win at Chicago.

-Blackhawks forward Martin Lapointe is out with a bruised kidney.

Northwest Division

-Pavol Demitra had a goal and an assist for the Wild in a 3-2 win at Colorado.

-Shawn Horcoff's shootout goal gave the Oilers a 4-3 win at Florida.

-Terry Frei of the Denver Post says the Avalanche has become boring due to the losses of Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth and Paul Stastny.

Pacific Division

-Zbynek Michalek's overtime goal gave the Coyotes a 4-3 win against Nashville. Radim Vrbata had a hat trick and an assist for the Coyotes.

-Milan Michalek and Joe Thornton each had three points for the Sharks in a 4-1 win against the Blues.

-The Kings got a goal and an assist from Derek Armstrong in a 3-1 win against the rival Ducks. Anaheim forward Ryan Getzlaf failed to score a point for the first time in 15 games.

-The Coyotes assigned former Penguins prospect Daniel Carcillo to San Antonio of the AHL.

-Teemu Selanne could be returning to the Ducks soon.

Adams Division

-The Globe And Mail had a pretty good piece about the first player of Asian descent to play in the NHL.



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