The injury list has piled up for Pittsburgh, but to lose their improvised alternate captain Brooks Orpik to injury early in the first period is just insult to injury. It's difficult enough to play without 3 of arguably your top 4 defensemen, but to be down to just five defensemen for the balance of the game -- one of which making his NHL debut, another who had the flu/minor injury last week is just cruel.
The first goal was in and out so quick the refs couldn't call it. Matt Hunwick lifted a shot top shelf that popped out real quick. Bruins were hugging and celebrating only one problem: no whistle. The Pens kept playing and no one was quite sure what was going on. The play was eventually reviewed and the correct call was made: it was in fact a goal. 1-0 Bruins.
Boston dominated Pittsburgh early, jumping out to a 10-2 shot advantage early in the game that the Pens whittled down to just a 16-15 Boston edge by the beginning of the 3rd period. The Pens had some great territorial time and cycled hard to create chances. Chances aren't goals, but the effort was appreciated.
The second goal of the game happened seconds after it appeared the Penguins might score. The revised top line was about to make a tic-tac-toe play of cross-ice passes for a slam dunk goal for Sidney Crosby. But Matt Cooke couldn't make the play and Patrice Bergeron nudged the puck up to Mark Recchi who found a streaking Daniel Paille for a breakaway. Paille buries it
-Lady luck just hasn't smiled on the Pens lately. On a PK, a Bruins defender trips and the Pens get a 2 on 1. No dice. Then with about 5:45 in the game remaining, the Pens shot a puck in, Thomas went back behind the net to wait for it but it took a weird bounce off the glass and somehow kicked out right to the open net. It crossed the creased and then hit squarely off the far-post and didn't go in. When you don't get the bounces, geez, you really don't get them.
At the end of the game Patrice Bergeron would tack on an empty netter, fittingly getting a fortunate bounce on a puck that was dipping and diving all over the ice. Bergeron earned his luck though, as he got an assist earlier, 2 hits, 2 takeaways and won 73% of his 24 faceoffs.
- Deryk Engelland played like, well, it was his first career NHL game. He was pressed into a tough situation: joining a battered team and then losing a defensive leader like Orpik, so he acquitted himself well. But he made a couple of sloppy plays and was a little out of position at times, but hey let's cut the guy a break. He didn't make any critical errors and generally did what was asked of him.
- Not sure what Jay McKee was thinking on the lead up to the Paille breakaway. He got caught moving slow in no-man's zone and let Paille get behind him. Then again he's having a great season and I just sit on a couch so it's easier to point things like that out than it is to do something about it.
- No word on what Orpik's injury could be. He got bodychecked cleanly behind the boards while digging out a puck, a routine play. He was instantly hobbled over though and wouldn't return, the team says he'll be re-evaluated tomorrow.
- Alex Goligoski would pull marathon duty in Orpik's absence. Good logged a game-high 28:25 and played well, even though he was a -2 (one was the empty netter). Martin Skoula was also pressed into a bigger role, getting a season high of 24:27 of ice-time. Skoula played very well in his increased duty.
- Hard to blame Marc-Andre Fleury for anything. He made 26 saves on 28 shots including more than a few excellent ones. He held his team in the game for as long as possible, but with no goal support, hard to imagine any goalie escaping with a win tonight.
No goals for two-and-a-half games right now. It's been tough treading. It's definitely not time for the panic button or to proclaim the sky is falling. A record of 12-6-0 translates to a 109 point pace over an entire season, which would surely bring playoffs, it's more points than the Penguins have had in a while.
This is hardly the end of the world. One gets the sense a lot of fans will be restless, but the truth is Pittsburgh didn't play too poorly tonight, regardless of current circumstances. They weren't good enough to win, but they hardly got laughed out of the rink like in the past couple of games. Hey, you gotta start somewhere. Hopefully now things can stabilize now that the Pens return to Mellon at last.