There's a lot you can take from a game like this. Both teams were playing their second day game in a row--which is huge for hockey players that are out of their usual game day routine of morning skate, meal, nap and game. Cut all of that out for a day game. Do it twice in a row and worlds will spin. Of course, it goes for both teams, so no one can use it for an excuse.
- Mathieu Garon is in a no-win situation. Garon's won 26 games two years and and 31 games three years ago (both for non-playoff teams). So, by all accounts Garon can be a goalie to win a team games when he, you know, actually gets to play. Today was Garon's first start since January 31st. Any goalie who doesn't get to play that much can't expected to be sharp.
- And Garon wasn't sharp. After Bill Guerin one-timed a Sidney Crosby feed for the game's first goal, Garon would give up two goals on four shots to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead. The first goal was a Mark Recchi tip, the second Garon looked foolish after a great pass by Blake Wheeler, but still. Goalies are paid to make stops and Garon didn't look up to the challenge.
- Then it more or less became the Chris Kunitz show. Kunitz re-directed a Crosby effort to tie it 2-2. Wheeler would answer for the B's on a slick pass from David Krejci while the Bruins were shorthanded to make it 3-2 Boston. Kunitz then tipped a Sergei Gonchar shot into the net for his second power-play goal of the game and give the lead back to the Pens. Then, just 18 seconds later, Kunitz collected a pass from Guerin and used his speed to put a breakaway goal by Tim Thomas.
- Just 1:40 later, Michael Ryder blew a rare unassisted power-play goal by Garon to tie the game at 4. Petr Sykora would answer about seven minutes later for the eventual game winner. Tack on a Jordan Staal empty netter and that's your ball game.
- The top line of Kunitz-Crosby-Guerin was huge; combining for 3 goals and 6 assists. As these guys have been gelling together the production has been following.
- Evgeni Malkin is pressing hard, but was held without a point again today. Still, with seven shots on goal and several great passes, it's just a matter of time until Geno is back to racking up the points.
- The Penguins did not do a good job on faceoffs tonight, just a 40% effort. Crosby went 32%, losing several draws against his buddy Patrice Bergeron.
- Still, at the end of the day the Penguins #1 defense pairing of Brooks Orpik and Sergei Gonchar were a combined +4, while Boston's #1 unit of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Wideman were a combined -6. If you only knew that it would be a pretty good indicator that Pittsburgh would win.
- Further, Boston had to take 6 penalties for holding, hooking, slashing and tripping. That's a good sign that the Pens had a lot of puck control, speed and possession in Boston's end that forced them to take those minors. If the Pens can do that against the East's number one team, they can do it against anyone.
So, all things considered it has been a successful stretch of 3 games in 4 days. The Pens took 4 points and came out of it healthy. They're now up to 5th place in the East, if only for the moment. A lot of teams below them like Montreal, NY Rangers and Florida have enough games in hand to tie or pass PIttsburgh, but games in hand don't mean anything unless you take care of business.
Right now with just 2 regulation losses since February 9th, the Pens are taking care of their business. And that's the only thing that one team can control right now. Plus, with two games in the next six days--both against non-playoff teams and both at home--you have to figure Pittsburgh is in a great position to keep it rolling.