On a day they welcomed back some old friends, the Penguins pull out a 3-2 shootout win against the Thrashers.
(Scroll down to read in chronological order.)
-If you're reading along, hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-We're claiming the "Homecoming" headline before anyone else does.
You are reading live from the Thrashers at Penguins game. The game is slated to start in roughly an hour from now.
A few things we have seen already here at Mellon Arena.
A Mario Lemieux Wale Conference all-star jersey
And guess what you can get on sale at PenStation, the gift shop at Mellon Arena.
One of the items they're giving away today is a placard that says "WELCOME" with pictures of the new Penguins, Pascal Dupuis, Hal Gill and Marian Hossa.
-The Thrashers came onto the ice for a warm-up and a lot more signs could be seen in their end of the ice than usual.
-As he left the ice, a cluster of Penguins fans applauded Colby Armstrong.
-Kari Lehtonen gets the start in net for Atlanta.
-Mark Recchi, Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen were announced as starters for Atlanta and a nice applause was offered. It's a classy move by Atlanta coach Don Waddell. It's similar to when Michel Therrien started Jarkko Ruutu in Vancouver, Georges Laraque in Edmonton and Gary Roberts in Calgary.
-The Penguins' scratches are Rob Scuderi, Marian Hossa, Ryan Whitney and suprisingly Ty Conklin.
-Atlanta has scratched Mark Popovic, Todd White and Ken Klee.
-A moment of silence for Myron Cope is held.
-Jeff Jimerson eliminates all poverty in the tri-state area by belting out a wonderful national athem.
19:10: Evgeni Malkin centers the puck into the slot to Sergei Gonchar. Gonchar fires a one-timer that Lehtonen stops but fails to completely cover up. Ryan Malone digs it out and sweeps it into an empty cage with the backhand. Terrible Towels are flying. The "Hey Song" booming. Penguins 1-0.
17:53: Where did this come from? Maxime Talbot brings the puck up ice, weaves by Steve McCarthy and lifts a backhander over Lehtonen. It's almost as if the Thrashers are playing NHL defense circa 1984. Penguins 2-0.
17:14: Petr Sykora fires a big slapper that Lehtonen kicks away.
13:51: Slava Kozlov hauls down Malone in the crease. Two minutes.
13:14: Alex Goligoski is nabbed for high sticking. Four-on-four.
9:40: Jim Slater gets away with a hooking penalty on Jarkko Ruutu.
8:58: Evgeni Malkin is called for putting the Heimlich Maneuver on McCarthy. Two minutes. A sign hanging from the F balcony above the Penguins net says, "Best Wishes Army and Crusher Thanks For The Memories."
6:51: Mike Lange's birthday is acknowledged with applause. Steve Tello vomits.
6:02: The best chance for the Thrashers is denied by Marc-Andre Fleury. Kozlov fires a one-timer and is denied.
5:35: Atlanta gets on the board as Slater scores. He works the puck up the left side and beats Fleury far side along the ice. It's an ugly goal by Fleury to give up. Penguins 2-1.
3:17: A reader writes:
"I'm reading along your blog for today's game for the first time and wondered if you caught the same thing I did. Did Errey actually call Ryan Malone "Mark Malone" after he scored the first goal? Wrong sport buddy!"
2:25: A picture on the Jumbotron is shown with Christensen and Armstrong and the words. "Thanks for the memories." Very classy, but why wasn't Mark Recchi included or acknowledged as well? He is one of the team's top all-time scorers. Granted the "wounds" of his departure aren't as fresh as Armstrong's or Christensen's, but he meant quite a bit to this franchise.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Thrashers 1.
-Joel Kwiatkowski had an assist on Slater's goal. Who had him in the "First-To-Get-His-Revenge-Against-The-Penguins" pool.
-The Penguins out-shot the Thrashers, 10-8.
-By they way, Army's Pit is still here:
-We spotted an Alexei Kovalev jersey between periods:
16:43: Connor James' first career goal he scored against the Islanders last week is acknowledged. James responds by getting creamed by Eric Boulton.
15:45: Malone drives to the net with the puck and pretty much runs over Lehtonen. Malone gets two minutes for goaltender interference.
14:40: Malkin comes up the ice short-handed with the puck. He slides a pass through the legs of an Atlanta player to Jarkko Ruutu. Ruutu tries to jam the puck in with a backhander, but no dice.
13:33: Malone comes out of the box and grabs the puck. He streaks up the right side and throws a backhander on net. Lehtonen traps it and freezes play. We were just handed a release from the Penguins telling us today's sellout is their 34th of the season that ties a franchise record that was set in 1989-90.
11:30: Hal "Pylon" Gill is called for interference.
8:37: You know the Penguins are hurting for healthy bodies when Jeff Taffe is the subject of the "Ask-cute-little-questions-and-have-them-sponsored-by-Pizza-Hut" segment.
7:17: Behind the Thrashers net, Kris Letang absolutely hammers Slater. One very underrated part of Letang's play is a how physical he can be.
4:40: Alexei Zhitnik fires a high slapper on net. Fleury easily gloves it.
3:37: Bobby Holik gets two minutes for being uglier than sin. Or slashing. One or the other.
1:30ish: Georges Laraque of all people charges up the slot with the puck. Holding off a check, he chops a shot on net that Lehtonen absorbs.
0:45: Malkin is sent off for hooking. Bad time to take a penalty.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Thrashers 1.
-Apologies for the delay. We've had some computer problems.
-The shots are tied, 21-21.
-Atlanta owns a 21-16 advantage in faceoff wins.
18:49: Slava Kozlov works the puck from the corner uncontested and tries to jam it by Fleury. He's denied the first time but is able to work it by Fleury. Armstrong and Kwiatkowski assist on the goal. Armstrong's name is annouced on the goal and a pretty loud cheer comes from crowd. Craig Custance, the Thrashers beat writer from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, tells us he's never heard an opposing player applauded for scoring. Penguins 2, Thrashers 2.
13:54: Tobias Enstrom is whistled for interference.
13:24: Letang sort of fans on a shot on net. Lehtonen easily covers the loose puck.
10:39: Talbot charges into the offensive zone and throws a backhander on net. It gets deflected by a defender's stick and Lehtonen gloves it easily.
6:01: Kwiatkowski fires a slapper on net from the point. Fleury stops it with big "thud."
5:35: More Terrible Towels:
3:01: While trying to work the puck from behind the net, Armstrong actually crashes the cage on top of Fleury. No harm, no foul.
1:58: McCarthy fires a slapper from the point. Fleury finds it through traffic and kicks it away.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Thrashers 2. Free hockey.
4:32: Darryl Sydor throws a wrister on net. Lehtonen eats it up.
2:18: The Penguins lob a backhander on net from the point. Lehtonen easily gloves it.
2:04: Malkin lunges and backhands a shot on net. Lehtonen makes a big save.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Thrashers 2. More free hockey.
-Is it wrong to bring this up?
-Clearly the the Penguins need to go with Erik Christens... oh wait...
-Petr Sykora goes first. He winds to the right, fakes a shot and hits the post.
-Christensen gets the nod for Atlanta. He comes in and completely misses the net. Wow. Who would've thought that?
-Letang glides down the slot, moves to the backhand and burns Lehtonen. Penguins 1-0.
-Eric Perrin streaks in, goes five hole and is denied by Fleury.
-Ruutu weave in and totally misses the net on a backhand.
-Kovalchuk needs to score to keep Atlanta alive. "FLERRR-EEEE! FLEERRR-EEEE! He coasts in, shoots low and "THUD!" No goal. End of shootout. Penguins 1-0. End of game. Penguins 3, Thrashers 2.
-Fleury wasn't really challenged a great deal outside of the shootout, but other than the bad first goal he gave up, he was solid in his first start since coming back from his injury.
-Pittsburgh enjoyed a 34-33 advantage in shots.
-The Penguins lost the faceoff battle, 38-26. Something tells us this is going to hurt them in the playoffs.
-Enstrom logged an impressive 29:27 of ice time.
-Joel Kwiatkowski was named a third star. Who would've guessed he would've been the ex-Penguin on this roster to get an honor like that?