No Country for Old Men -- Penguins 4, Thrashers 3 (OT)

Thrashers vs Penguins coverage -- Thrashers vs Penguins recap -- Thrashers vs Penguins boxscore -- Bird Watchers Anonymous

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing ...

Or unless your name is Bill Guerin.

As much as I have to respect Chris Chelios for having the determination to stay fit enough to play despite being an octogenarian, you can tell he's done.  Guerin, on the other hand has taken up his new grinder role quite nicely and displayed it prominently in a fight against Jim Slater that left the arena buzzing.

It looked for a while, though, that it was going to be the only thing worth cheering about.  Shortly after the fight, a two-on-two developed heading into the Penguins' zone.  Brooks Orpik split off to drive Nicklas Bergfors wide while Kris Letang did his best impression of a pylon, letting Maxim Afinogenov of all people right through the slot where he was able to beat Marc-Andre Fleury easily.  Meanwhile, the Penguins were having difficulty getting any sort of sustained pressure at all with the Thrashers clogging up the neutral zone.

The second period was far more watchable.  The Penguins were able to do mostly what they wanted on offense, especially if you're talking about the reunited Kennedy-Staal-Cooke line playing their puck possession game, which is truly a sight to behold as the opposition flails impotently in an attempt to regain the puck.  After an interference call on former Penguin Chris Thorburn, the power play took a while to get going, but go it did, with a pretty tic-tac-toe goal for Evgeni Malkin to tie the game at 1.

It couldn't be that simple, though, could it?  With only a few minutes left in the second period, Johnny Oduya blasted a shot from the point that Tim Stapleton managed to deflect through Fleury's five-hole to give the lead back to the Thrashers.

Not to be outdone, the third period was the period you liked if you enjoy goals.  Tyler Kennedy quickly scored his twelfth goal of the season with assists from Sergei Gonchar and Sidney Crosby to tie the score at 2.  (Side note:  for those of you who've never been to a game when Kennedy scores, professional wrestler Mr. Kennedy makes a hilarious appearance not to be missed.)

Atlanta took the lead right back, though, with a Richard Peverley goal that could only be described as one that Fleury has to want back.  He was caught out of position on a rebound (that the defense didn't clear, true) and Peverley had a gaping net all to himself.  No matter, though, because a ridiculously stupid Jim Slater holding penalty allowed the resurgent Penguins power play to make good at 18:46 of the third period when whipping boy Alex Goligoski made a nice cross-ice pass to Malkin, who sent the puck back to Gonchar, where he slammed a shot home over Johan Hedberg's glove.  Tie game, off to OT.

Overtime looked at first like it was going to be one of those "Let's wait around until the shootout" chess matches until a Penguins mistake led to a loose puck.  Crosby, back checking, managed to toss the puck up ice where Jordan Leopold caught up with it and threw the puck blindly at the net.  Hedberg must have been asleep, because that was ballgame.

Mike Lange was heard to yell, "He beat goaltender Hedberg between the legs!" and unfortunate choice of words aside, it was exactly true.  The puck managed to roll more or less untouched through Hedberg's leg pads, and the Mellon Arena crowd went ballistic.

This was one of those games that could mark a resurgence for the playoffs, or it could be just another game the Penguins could have won handily if things had gone the way they should.  We won't know until a few more games have passed, but from where I was sitting in seat J14 of section C2, it had the makings of a turnaround.

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