Penguins players, coaches savor fast tempo
Penguins fans line up near the Consol Energy Center waiting to get into the free intrasquad game Wednesday night.
Share with others:
It wasn't a game that will show up on the official NHL ledgers, but fans waited for hours in lines that curled around Consol Energy Center, then filled the arena to capacity Wednesday night and welcomed back the Penguins in a loud way.
The Penguins don't open the lockout-shortened season until Saturday afternoon at Philadelphia, but coach Dan Bylsma wanted a Black and Gold scrimmage that was as close to game conditions as possible with only a week of training camp and no preseason games.
A few things were contrived -- phantom penalties to create power plays, a predetermined overtime and shootout regardless of the score after regulation -- but it was a high-paced scrimmage.
"I think it was pretty high tempo and a lot of traffic [near the crease] -- people in front and pushing, getting a stick in the legs," said goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, a member of the winning Black team. "It was a game situation. It was good practice for me."
The team designated Black beat the one designated White, 5-4, despite the fact that White was stacked offensively with the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin lines.
The third line of Matt Cooke, Brandon Sutter and Tyler Kennedy carried the Black team..
Admission to the event was free, a nod to fans who didn't have hockey to watch during the fourth-month lockout.
Crosby on penalty-kill
Crosby, a fixture on the power play, spent some time killing penalties, and it was more than just the final seconds he has gotten here and there in his career.
"He looks good," said winger Pascal Dupuis, a regular penalty-killer. "He knows how to play the game, and, if you win faceoffs in your own zone, it's always a big plus on the penalty-killing because you can send it down [to the other end of the ice]."
Bringing in the reserves
The Penguins summoned 15 reinforcements from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League to fill out their rosters.
They were forwards Riley Holzapfel, Dominik Uher, Brian Gibbons, Adam Payerl, Trevor Smith, Warren Peters, Steve MacIntyre, Zach Sill and Paul Thompson; defensemen Brian Dumoulin, Joe Morrow, Philip Samuelsson, Alex Grant and Upper St. Clair native Dylan Reese; and goaltender Patrick Killeen. Gibbons and Grant were scratched; Killeen didn't get into the game. Most, if not all, of those players would have been invited to training camp if there had not been a lockout that shortened camp to a week.
MacIntyre, an enforcer, and Cooke bumped once after a whistle, then laughed it off.
The Penguins also chose not to bring in the top two Wilkes-Barre goalies, Brad Thiessen and Jeff Zatkoff.
How it played out
A scoring recap:
Cooke converted a feed from Sutter to give White a 1-0 lead 41 seconds into the first period.
Winger Beau Bennett swept in from the left side to score a power-play goal at 2:48 of the first period to tie the score for Black.
It took winger Chris Kunitz a couple of whacks at the puck near the feet of Fleury to get a power-play goal at 15:52 of the first period, giving White a 2-1 lead.
Defenseman Kris Letang scored on a shot from above the right circle at 3:56 of the second period to give White a 3-1 lead.
Cooke struck again, short-handed this time, when he swept the puck in after Sutter drove to the net with it. That pulled Black to within 3-2 at 5:27 of the second period.
Black tied it, 3-3, at 7:13 of the second period when Kennedy squeaked the puck inside the near post.
With a coach-created five-on-three advantage to start the third period, Malkin ripped a shot from above the right hashes to give White a 4-3 lead at 0:58.
In overtime, Sutter converted a set-up by Kennedy for Black at 2:54 to tie it, 4-4.
In the shootout, Kennedy, Jayson Megna and Sutter scored for Black, with only Letang scoring for the White.
With a shortened schedule of 48 games, new goaltender Tomas Vokoun will see "a higher percentage of games than a [backup would in a] normal season," Bylsma said. "If he plays 20 games, he's getting close to 50-50." ... The Penguins have a scheduled day off today. Camp will conclude Friday with an 11 a.m. practice at Consol Energy Center that is open to the public. ... Dupuis on getting pummeled after a faceoff by defenseman Brooks Orpik: "It was game-like situations."
First Published January 17, 2013 12:19 am