Taking first

March 22, 2008

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The Penguins dominate the Devils, 8-1, and claim first place in the Atlantic Division.

PREGAME

First things first. It's gone.

rubble

That big crusty, but stubborn old hospital that was across the street from Mellon Arena is a big pile of junk now.

Old St. Francis Central Hospital was imploded earlier this afternoon.

The old, progress-resistant part of us is kind of sad that it's no more. We never set foot in it, but it's just been part of the landscape for as long as we've been going to Penguins games. We always parked on the backside of it anytime we've gone to Penguins games as fans and it was just something there that we had to walk around to get to the Arena.

But the personal-space glutton in us is happy because it's just another step closer to not having to use a trough urinal again while attending a Penguin game. Woo!

Walking into the arena, we spotted this cool Luc Robitaille jersey:

robitaille

In case you didn't see Jarkko Ruutu pulling of his Wayne Rooney impersonation the other night, here you go:

-Both teams took the ice a few minutes ago:

teams

-Rob Scuderi has taken the ice as well. He has not played since he injured a finger in a 4-2 win against the Islanders Feb. 26.

-The Devils recalled forward Barry Tallackson from Lowell of the AHL.

-Devils forward Arron Asham was sent back to New Jersey due to a hand injury. Islanders forward Matthew Spiller apparently injured Asham's hand with his face last night.

-Defensemen Andy Greene and Karel Rachunek will be in the lineup tonight in place of Sheldon Brookbank and Vitaly Vishnevski.

-Forward Patrik Elias is stuck back in New Jersey with a knee injury or flu. Defenseman Bryce Salvador, who the Devils picked up at the trade deadline is out with a foot injury.

-The Penguins' scratches are Rob Scuderi, Connor James and Sidney Crosby.

-We hear Connor James got hit by a bus so the obligatory smashing of Connor James still happened.

-Marc-Andre Fleury will start in net.

-Kevin Weekes will start for the Devils in goal.

-Uh... if you're really dense, Martin Brodeur is actually starting.

-As the teams came back onto the ice, a pretty good "LET'S... GO... PENS!" chant was going. The fans know this is a pretty big one.

-No Jeff Jimerson.

FIRST PERIOD

19:46: "LET'S... GO... PENS!"

18:30: Marian Hossa steals the puck off Travis Zajac in the neutral zone. He works it up ice and dishes it to Jarkko Ruutu on the left wing. Ruutu tries to center it into the slot for Jordan Staal, but Andy Greene has other plans. He tries to clear the puck but accidently re-directs by Martin Brodeur. Even Nicklas Backstrom is impressed. Ruutu gets credit for the goal. It's the first time in his career he's scored goals in three consecutive games. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1-0.

15:13: Before a faceoff, both teams gather in an exchange of pleasantries. Not surprisingly, Ruutu and Georges Laraque are right in the middle of everything.

12:49: Noted Penguin killer Jay Pandolfo (he should get a business card with that on it) is nabbed for tripping.

11:48: Short-handed, John Madden blasts a slapper that Fleury knocks away with his glove.

10:56: Brian Gionta may have just scored the goal of the season. As the penalty expires, Madden works the puck up ice off a rebound of a blocked shot. With Darryl Sydor sprawled out in the slot hoping to block a pass, Madden 9-iron's a pass into the air for Gionta. Gionta shows some amazing eye-hand cooridination and swats the puck out of the air and into the net. Tiger Woods is impressed. "Jamie's Crying" by Van Halen is played. Devils 1, Penguins 1.

7:48: Sergei Gonchar juuuuust pushes a re-direct pass wide of the net.

7:22: Another scrum. Who else but Ruutu would be in the middle of it? Colin White ends up with a roughing penalty.

6:04: From the tops of the slot, Gonchar blasts a slap shot. It hits Ryan Malone in front of the net with a thick "THUD!" and drops him.

5:41: Along the left boards, Tyler Kennedy winds up and fires a slapper on net. Brodeur knocks it down and covers the puck.

4:28: Ruutu and David Clarkson get tangled up along the boards. Ruutu is nabbed for holding.

1:25: Malone works the puck from behind the net, gets Brodeur to commit. He has Brodeur on his knees and tries to roof it, but he completely misses the net.

0:08: Hossa brings the puck into the slot and snaps a wrister on net. Brodeur knocks it away with his blocker.

0:00: End of period. As the horn blows, both teams again engage in a scrum. Ruutu is given two minutes for unsportmanlike conduct. Give the officials credit. They want to keep the hostilities in check tonight. Devils 1, Penguins 1.

FIRST INTERMISSION

-The Devils own a 13-8 advantage in shots.

-The Penguins have a 6-5 advantage in faceoffs.

-Two jerseys we saw during the intermission:

Old school Devils Christmas jersey:

Devils

Kevin Stevens:

Stevens

SECOND PERIOD

18:31: On the power play, a Devil fires a slapper from the point. It hits Fleury and trickles through his equipment. The puck rolls along the goal line and just avoids going in.

16:21: A Penguins official just informed us that Ty Conklin is wearing a head set and broadcasting from the ramp from leading to the dressing room. Even without having dealt with Conklin on a regular basis, we're willing to bet he won't call Jarkko Ruutu a beaver like Bob Errey did the other night.

14:37: 17,132.

12:54: We were just informed Ben Roethlisberger and Dan Rooney are sitting in the owners box with Sidney Crosby. David Garrard ran right by them. (That was lame, sorry.)

12:54: Pascal Dupuis is sent to the box for high sticking. The presence of a a gentleman in uniform who just got home from Iraq was announced. He gets a standing ovation. Welcome home sir.

12:27: Zach Parise is called for goaltender interference. Four-on-four.

11:25: Staal spins along the goal line and fires a rising shot. It hits the cross bar and bounces out.

6:20: Things have really slowed down. There has been very little in the way of offensive chances.

8:31: "LET'S... GO... PENS!"

5:05: Ryan Whitney throws a puck on the net from the left boards. Martin Brodeur makes the save. Jeff Taffe tries to jump on the rebound but Brodeur is there again with the save.

4:38: Staal is called for tripping.

3:46: Shorthanded, Malone works the puck out of the Penguins' zone and sends a pass across the ice to Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis enters the offensive zone one-on-one against former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin. Dupuis waits for Malone to catch up and slides a pass across the slot to Malone who fires the puck into an empty cage behind Brodeur. It's a very slick goal. Penguins 2-1.

2:48: "Marrrrr-Teeeeee! Marrrrr-Teeeee!"

1:48: It's announced Malone's shorthanded goal won some fan $1,250 from the ESPN 1250. We bet that fan buys three, maybe four tanks of gas with that.

0:49ish: Brooks Oprik has a chance in the slot. Brodeur kicks away his shot.

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

SECOND INTERMISSION

-New Jersey is out-shooting the Penguins 20-15.

-Faceoffs are tied, 15-15.

-This NHL Network commercial we really dig is played:

-Best text messages sent to the Jumbotron:

-Jack saw Gary Roberts knock down the hospital.

-Gary Roberts is the Apocolypse.

-John Barbaro rocks!

-Hal Gill is 9 Feet tall.

-WWGRE What Would Gary Roberts Eat?

THIRD PERIOD

18:10: Rod Pelley crunches Kennedy behind the Devils' net.

17:08: Staal picks up a loose puck at the Devils' blue line. He charges down the slot fighting off a hook by Dainius Zubrus. Staal shoots five hole. Brodeur comes up with the save. Zubrus slides into Brodeur and drives him and the puck into the net before it gets dislodged. An official raises his hand to indicated a penalty. Officials rule that the whistle had blown before the puck went into the net. Zubrus gets two minutes.

17:00: Off the faceoff, the puck gets worked to the point to Gonchar. Gonchar throws it at the net. Malone re-directs it out of mid-air and it bounces under Brodeur and into the net. Brodeur appeared to be trying to buy an interference penalty as he acts as if were stabbed when Malkin brushes up against him. The referees aren't buying it. Penguins 3-1.

16:04: Back by the Penguins' net, Madden pops Malkin in the chest with a nice shoulder check. Malkin falls to the ice and is stunned for a few moments. Play is stopped so trainer Chris Stewart can attend to Malkin. Malkin gets to his feet and skates to the bench. He can be seen holding his chest as if to indicate he had the wind knocked out of him.

15:09: Hossa slides the puck from the point to Dupuis along the goal line. He hesitates for a moment and simply throws it into Brodeur. The puck hits Brodeur's stick and hops up over his right leg. It's a garbage goal but it counts. Penguins 4-1.

13:47: Holy Craig Billington! Kevin Weekes is playing! Brodeur has been pulled.

13:24: The Devils call a time out and Cotton-Eyed Joe is busted out:

11:36: The rout is on. On a power play, Malkin controls the puck and simply throws it on net. Weekes doesn't even appear to see it and it hits the twine. It's his 100th point of the season. A sign hanging from one of the F balcony that says "GENO 99 POINTS" is updated. "GEEE-NO! GEEE-NO!" then "M-V-P! M-V-P!" is chanted. Penguins 5-1.

8:45: Toronto's defeat of Ottawa is flashed on the scoreboard and greeted with cheers.

8:39: Geez this is getting bad. Malkin wins the faceoff and forces the puck behind the net. He steals the puck off a Devil and tries to score on a wraparound. The puck slides out into the slot and Malkin gets his own rebound. He then throws it at the net and beats Weekes again. Penguins 6-1.

7:47: Gonchar gets hit from behind by Travis Zajac in the corner. Staal and Orpik come over to defend Gonchar and all heck breaks loose. Jamie Langenbrunner, who we haven't notice until this point, begins throwing punches into any black spots in the pile. The officials seem to have things under control until Langenbrunner and Dupuis emerge from the group. Dupuis falls to the ice and Langenbrunner still tries to beat Dupuis. It's almost as if Dupuis stole Langenbrunner's credit card and fraudulently purchased decorative spatulas with it. It takes officials a few minutes to dole out penalties. Zajac gets two for roughing and five for boarding. Langenbrunner gets a 10-minute misconduct and two for roughing. Orpik and Staal each get two for roughing. The Penguins will get a five-minuter power play (to borrow Bob Errey's version of the English language.)

5:36: Down by the goal line, Petr Sykora tries to jam one in. Weekes says no.

2:44: You know it's a rout when they bust out "Shout" by the Isley Brothers:

1:42: Why not one more? Malkin comes screaming into the offensive zone chops the puck across the slot. Mike Mottau tries to poke it away but misses. Sykora is Johnny-On-The-Spot and fires it behind Weekes. Penguins 84,923 (7)-1.

0:10: The fans still remaining rise to their feet and applaud the Penguins' effort.

0:00: End of game. Penguins 7, Devils 1.

POSTGAME

-These two teams were playing for first place? You wouldn't have known it watching this one-sided butt-kicking. The Devils looked like a team playing for draft position instead of a division title.

-The Penguins are in first place in the Atlantic Division after this game.

-Montreal won 3-2 in overtime against Boston and claimed first place in the Eastern Conference.

-Remember when the Devils were a tight defensive team?

-The three stars are 3.) Marian Hossa. 2.) Evgeni Malkin. 1.) Ryan Malone.

-The Penguins went 2-for-6 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.

-Pascal Dupuis (one goal, one assist), Ryan Malone (two goals), Petr Sykora (one goal, two assists), Marian Hossa (three assists), Sergei Gonchar (two assists) and Evgeni Malkin (two goals, 1 assist) all had multiple points.

-The only Penguins who didn't score were Hal Gill, Jordan Staal, Maxime Talbot, Georges Laraque, Jeff Taffe, Chris Minard, Tyler Kennedy, Marc-Andre Fleury and Iceburgh.

-We didn't see the Cotton Candy Guy, but that doesn't mean he wasn't here.

-It looks like Bob Errey actually acknowledged Errey Blog during the game.

"Sounds like somebody won a body building championship! Put that one on boberrey.blogspot.com!"

-Travis Zajac, Mike Mottau, Zach Parise and John Madden, all key players for the Devils, were a minus -4.

-The Penguins actually won the faceoff battle, 28-24. We don't have the numbers in front of us, but we're pretty sure that the first time they controlled the faceoffs in over 25 games.

-The Penguins out-shot New Jersey 28-25

-The off-ice officials have been in a pow-wow up in the press box for over half an hour trying to correct some inconsistencies in the statistics. At some points, they've been yelling at each other over the errors. It's been quite comical.

-Apparently one of the problems has been one of the on-ice officials, Chris Ciamaga who was working his first NHL game. In their eyes, he seems to have made some mistakes. At least that what we think when they refer to him as "this (expletive) ref!" over the phone.

-Game Summary.

-Event Summary.

-Highlights.



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