Playing the Devils' game

March 26, 2008

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The Penguins grind out a 2-0 win at New Jersey and secure a playoff berth.

PREGAME

-Dan Potash interviews Sergei Gonchar before the game. Gonchar has a pretty good five o'clock shadow going.

-Marc-Andre Fleury will start in net for the Penguins.

-Martin Brodeur starts for the Devils.

-The Penguins will go with seven defensemen again. Pascal Dupuis, Sidney Crosby, Chris Minard and Dany Sabourin are their scratches. Connor James was called up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton earlier in the day.

-The Devils scratched Andy Greene, Rod Pelley, Barry Tallackson, Bryce Salvador and Karel Rachunek.

FIRST PERIOD

18:15: In almost the nicest way possible, Paul Steigerwald calls out the Devils for not drawing fans. There are tons of empty seats visable.

17:43: From near his own goal line, Darryl Sydor fires a fantastic pass to the Devils' blue line and springs him on a breakaway. Malone dekes to the backhand and tries to go five hole but Brodeur closes the gates.

17:35: David Clarkson brings the puck back up ice, pulls up, uses Darryl Sydor as a screen and snaps a quick shot. Fleury kicks it out.

16:36: Sheldon Brookbank pounds a slap shot from the point. Fleury kicks it out with his right leg.

15:51: FSN Pittsburgh gives us the lines. Surprisingly, Ryan Whitney is on the left wing on the fourth line:

Forwards

Malone-Malkin-Sykora

Kennedy-Staal-Hossa

Ruutu-Talbot-Taffe

Whitney-James-Laraque

Defensemen

Oprik-Gonchar

Scuderi-Sydor

Gill-Letang

-Wow. We guess that's one way to avoid not having to worry about Whitney's defense. Patrik Elias is sent to the box for interference.

15:03: Gonchar lobs a puck form the point on net. Brodeur locates it in traffic and makes the save.

14:42: Gonchar moves the puck from the point to the corner. Whitney takes it and slides a pass into the slot for Malone who drops to one knee and pounds a one-timer by Brodeur. Penguins 1-0.

14:20: Steigerwald compares that goal to a pass Mario Lemieux would make to Kevin Stevens in the slot. Uh... not quite.

12:54: Hal Gill sweeps the puck along the boards but a Devils player steals it and dishes it to noted Penguin-killer Jay Pandolfo in the slot. Gill is Johnny-on-the-spot and is able to block Pandolfo's shot with a his leg.

10:55: Jamie Langenbrunner throws the puck towards the slot. Zach Parise charges in the slot and re-directs it on net. Fleury almost unintentionally makes the save.

10:20: Mike Rupp fires a shot from the left wing. Fleury traps the puck against his chest and Dainius Zubrus makes contact with him. Gill and Jarkko Ruutu give Zubrus a push. Rupp Roman-Greco's Ruutu to the ice. David Clarkson gives Gill a shove. Ruutu (6-foot-1) gets up and tries to get into the face of Rupp (6-foot-5) but he would need to stand on a phone book to do that.

5:47: Arron Asham fires a slapper on net from the right wing. Fleury knocks it away.

5:21: Bob Errey reveals Chris Minard suffered a groin injury and that's why he didn't dress.

4:28: Parise kicks out Jordan Staal's feet. No call.

4:26: Colin White fires a loose puck from the point. Staal blocks it and is shaken up a bit.

4:03: Kris Letang throws a shot on net from the point. Brodeur maks a save with his right leg. Ruutu charges the net and jumps on the rebound. Brodeur is able to hold it out with his glove. Very nice save.

2:02: Maxime Talbot is called for high sticking.

0:32: Marian Hossa picks a pass off in the neutral zone and throws it into the Devils' bench. All 49 of the Devils fans boo their team's lethargic effort on the power play.

0:00: End of period. Orpik and Zubrus get egaged behind the Penguins' net. Both are called for cross checking. Steigerwald informs us that neither team likes each other very well (Thanks.) Penguins 1, Devils 0.

FIRST INTERMISSION

-New Jersey out-shot the Penguin 9-7.

-The Devils won the faceoff battle, 9-4.

-Georges Laraque likes "Pay It Forward?" Ugh. That movie stunk. It's more than cool that he's trying to live the good life and help other people out, but choose another movie to be inspired by. Like "Encino Man:"

-Ok, maybe not.

SECOND PERIOD

17:35: Errey describes Hal Gill as "slippery" with a little too much amusement for us to be comfortable.

15:59: We're nominating Martin Brodeur for the Lady Byng award. FSN Pittsburgh just showed a replay of Brodeur firing a loose Penguins glove over to the Penguins' bench. Ty Conklin scooped it up and threw it to someone down the bench.

14:04: Steigerwald suggests they should put fake people in the empty seats in New Jersey much the same way they did in "Sudden Death" Because that project worked out so well.

11:34: Asham brings the puck from the corner and forces it into the crease. Without his stick, Letang gives Asham a shove and he falls into Fleury. The puck kicks out to Brookbank who throws it into an empty cage. Fleury pounds his stick in displeasure. An official immediately waves the goal off claiming Asham interfered with Fleury. Brent Sutter calls the officials to the bench and begins screaming at them. Replays show Sutter banging a stick against the boards ala Mike Milbury. While Letang certainly gave Asham a shove in the back, it wasn't enough for the full-blown Greg Louganis dive Asham took. One way or another, the Penguins dodged a bullet on that one.

8:54: Coming back from commercial, replays show Clarkson trying to be Hossa's otologist as he stuck the butt end of his stick the side of Hossa's head.

5:59: The obligatory smashing of Connor James comes from Brookbank. Chasing after a loose puck in the corner, he hits James from behind and drops him to his knees.

4:34: Malone is called for tripping Mike Mottau.

0:00: End of period. Brookbank and Maxime Talbot get a discussion of who should've won Wrestlemania VI, Hulk Hogan or the Ultimate Warrior. We think.

SECOND INTERMISSION

-New Jersey owns a 15-14 advantage in shots.

-The Devils are controlling the faceoffs, 17-13.

-That was a pretty boring period.

-The Devils have yet to get a shot on net on their two power plays.

THIRD PERIOD

17:10: Georges Laraque is nabbed for tripping Travis Zajac.

15:16: Parise lobs a pass over a prone Gill to Langenbrunner on the other side of the crease. Langenbrunner shoots five hole but Fleury is able to slide over and make a huge save. Langenbrunner then gets run over by Malone. Errey says Malone launched him 50 feet but thankfully explains he was exaggerating. (Thanks Bob.)

13:54: The Devils are called for too many men on the ice.

13:02: Shorthanded, Elias fires a shot from the point. Fleury is forced to make a nice save on it.

12:27: Mottau brings the puck up ice and fires a shot. Fleury comes up with the save again.

10:00: The Penguins are pretty much in full-out Devils mode. Basically they're dumping the puck and changing lines.

9:48: Steigerwald says the announced attendance is 16,292. Errey claims "half of them are cardboard."

9:02: Brian Gionta snaps a quick shot off in traffic. Fleury traps it against his chest. Letang, Gill and Kennedy force the Devils out of the crease.

8:45: Former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin (Please tell us when that joke gets old.) drives a shot on net from the point. Fleury knocks it away.

7:37: Clarkson fires a puck on net through traffic. Fleury knocks it down and covers it. Clarkson follows up on the shot looking for a rebound and Gill clears his away.

6:03: Gonchar suplexes Elias to the ice with a nice hip check.

5:46: Langenbrunner hugs Staal near the benches and jabs in him the back a few times. No call.

2:57: Langenbrunner blasts a slapper from center ice

2:08: Rob Scuderi gets hammered into the boards from behind by Rupp.

1:09: Brodeur is pulled for an extra attacker.

0:54: Elias fires a laser from left side through traffic that Fleury goes down to glove. The Devils call a time out.

0:51: Off a faceoff, Martin fires a shot from the point. It misses the net but Fleury gets run over by Gionta. No call.

0:41: The puck comes ups ice. Hossa brings it into the offensive zone and fires it for one of us. Penguins 2-0.

0:23: Brookbank fires one from the point. Fleury gloves it.

0:03: The puck gets worked into the crease. Zubrus tries to jam it in with a backhand. Fleury kick it out with his left leg.

0:00: End of game. Penguins 2, Devils 0.

POSTGAME

-It wasn't pretty, it wasn't entertaining, but it's a win. And it gets them in the playoffs.

-After getting out-worked by a bad Islanders team the night before, the Penguins responded with a very thorough win against a team they're competing directly with for the division title.

-The Penguins were out-shot 31-20. They faced 16 shots alone in the third period.

-New Jersey controlled the faceoffs, 30-17.

-The Penguins blocked 14 shots. Hall Gill had four while Sergei Gonchar had three.

-Ryan Malone led all forwards with 22:17 of ice time.

-Fleury recorded his fourth shutout of the season and his 11th of his career.

-Evgeni Malkin was shutout for the second game in a row. We don't have the numbers in front of us, but we're pretty sure the last time that happened, HBO was still using this promo:

-Sean Leahy from Going Five Hole was at the game last night and spotted a Billy Tibbetts jersey:

Tibbetts

Sean also spotted former Penguin Kevin Stevens at the game. Stevens is currently a scout with the team:

artie

What a tie.

Sean met Stevens while waiting for a train. Stevens apparently jumped on the wrong train.

-Dave Molinari's recap.

-Game Summary.

-Event Summary.

-Highlights.

EMPTY NETTER ASSISTS

Penguins

-Sidney Crosby might try to come back tomorrow night against the Islanders.

-The Staal brothers could become the first set of three brothers to make the playoffs in the same season since the Brotens (Aaron, Neal and Paul) in 1992.

-The Penguins signed 2004 third-round draft pick Nick Johnson.

-The Penguins tweaked the design for the new arena a bit.

-Dennis Miller's brother is going to shoot a movie scene at the game tomorrow night. Hopefully it's better than "Bordello of Blood:"

-Random YouTube Find Of The Day: Former Penguins defenseman Bryan Watson dropping the gloves with Bruins legend Bobby Orr:

-Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy has his own blog. (Kudos The Sweater Ted for the find.)

Atlantic Division

-Mike Richards' overtime goal gave the Flyers a 2-1 road win against the Rangers.

Northeast Division

-Daniel Alfredsson had two goal and an assist and led the Senators to a 6-3 win at Buffalo.

-Sabres defenseman Nathan Paetsch played his first game since suffering a concussion March 12 in Pittsburgh. He was injured when Georges Laraque elbowed him in the head.

-The Bruins got a goal and an assist each from Marco Sturm, Shawn Thornton and David Krejci in a 6-2 rout of the Maple Leafs.

-Bruins defenseman and former Penguin Andrew Ference is dealing with a leg injury. Marc Savard is dealing with a back problem as well.

-The Senators' goaltending situation is still a mess.

-Maple Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala seems like our kind of guy. He likes ice cream and beer.

-The picture is a little fuzzy, but check out Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak's new mask.

Southeast Division

-A shootout goal by Viktor Kozlov gave the Capitals a 3-2 win at Carolina.

-Jeff Halpern had a goal and two assists for the Lightning in a 3-1 defeat of the rival Panthers.

-Lightning goaltender Mike Smith injured a knee.

Central Division

-Johan Franzen scored his 11th goal in as many games for the Red Wings who edged the Blues, 2-1.

-Dan Ellis made 36 saves and led the Predators to a 3-0 shutout of the Blue Jackets.

-Blues defenseman Barret Jackman basically told Blackhawks coach Denis Savard to shut up.

-Savard said "no."

-Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said defenseman Chris Chelios will likely return next year to play because his Social Security doesn't kick in for another two or three years.

Northwest Division

-Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow each recorded a goal and an assist for the Flames in a 3-2 defeat of the rival Canucks.

-Flames forward Kristian Huselius is back in the doghouse of coach Mike Keenan.

-Is Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf a punk? The Sex Pistols unavailable for comment:

Pacific Division

-Martin Hanzal's overtime goal gave the Coyotes a wild 5-4 win against the Sharks.

-The Ducks are hoping forward Ryan Getzlaf and goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere will be healthy enough to play the Kings tonight.

-Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo is dealing with head and neck injuries.

Wales Conference

-The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League suspended the Roy family for their role in a brawl Saturday.

-Being an NHL defenseman doesn't sound like fun.



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