It's the last regular season game at the Mellon Arena ever. Dozens of legends and old-time players were on hand. There was a special buzz in the air. Sounds like a storybook, doesn't it? When the storyline is that special, you know who comes through.
Sidney Crosby stole the show once the game commenced, scoring one goal, adding three assists as the Penguins jumped up early on the always pesky New York Islanders and outpaced them until the end, winning by a 7-3 margin.
Brooks Orpik, of all players, opened the scoring just 23 seconds into the game with a weak wrister that eluded Martin Biron, thanks in part to a nice moving screen applied by Matt Cooke. It was a sign of things to come, Alex Goligoski converted some nice tic-tac-toe passing from Crosby and Sergei Gonchar. Before the period was over Evgeni Malkin made an awesome individual effort to steal a puck, skate all the way up the ice while being hooked and score. Then Crosby added his 49th on a sweet wrister.
That was it for the goalie known as "French Toast", Dwayne Roloson replaced him for the rest of the game, but he didn't stop the Pittsburgh on-slaught.
Crosby would appear to score his 50th of the year but it actually deflected off Bill Guerin and Sid fessed up after the game. Tyler Kennedy snapped a slapper by Roloson and Guerin ended the scoring by jamming in his 21st of the season.
In between all of those Pens tallies, the Isles got 3 goals, eventually making the score 4-3 at one point. Mark Streit slapped two deflectable shots, one that Matt Moulson tipped and another Josh Bailey got to. The other NYI effort was by Kyle Okposo.
- Crosby's now just three points back of Vancouver's Henrik Sedin (107) and one back of Alex Ovechkin (106) in the Art Ross race. By virtue of his goal, Sid's up 1 on Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos (48), with all players in both races having two more games to go.
- Alexei Ponikarovsky got the gate for a deserved 5 minute major and a game misconduct for boarding Bailey early in the 3rd. The Penguins had to kill off a bunch of penalties in the 3rd period, and they were able to do so.
- Tonight marks only the third game for Malkin since March 14th, but he sure looked sharp. Game high 7 shots on goal, a tremendous individual effort for the goal, a hit, two takeaways and a giveaway.
- Marc-Andre Fleury made three rapid fire saves, while Pittsburgh was on a PP, that should earn him full marks. NYI was still in the game at that point and Fleury shut the door.
- Speaking of, Pens broadcaster Bob Errey got it right: the Pens almost looked like they thought NYI should have rolled over. It was Pittsburgh's night and after a few easy goals they'd coast to victory, right? Well the Islanders had different ideas and wouldn't comply, they're fighting for NHL roles and jobs too.
- The Pens were a little lax defensively early, but battoned down the hatches once they realized NYI wasn't going to just take a fall. NYI didn't score after the middle of the second and only got 8 3rd period shots.
- When even strength goals are 5-2, how do you explain Ponikarovsky and Ruslan Fedotenko ending up a -1? Bad timing or further indicators of more?
So, just like that, we close the books on the Mellon Arena. For the regular season, anyways. It was one last chance to see some faces from the past, feel the presence of Badger Bob, Herbie and the like smiling down and watch the Pens of the present light up the scoreboard. It was a great day for hockey, just like the 1,666 previous regular season games under the big silver dome.