The ebbs and flows of a hockey game can be quite amazing. For the first period the Penguins were in control in about every imaginable aspect- they out-shot the San Jose Sharks 15-4 and got two goals in the first 2:04 of the game, ending Antti Niemi's night before he could break a sweat. The Pens were dominant and could not be stopped, particularly Evgeni Malkin who had the puck on a string and total control.
Then, intermission happened. The Sharks, who were coming off a long east coast trip themselves, got steadied and their legs under themselves. Shots from here on out would be 31-17 SJ, as the game turned 180 degrees and the home team then established control of the game.
In the end, after sixty-five minutes the score remained tied at three and the Sharks took a shootout decision. One point on the road is better than no points. Some comments on the game;
- Props have to go to SJ backup Thomas Greiss for coming into the game cold and playing in front of a team that was on the ropes. He definitely held the Sharks in the game early with some terrific stops on James Neal and Chris Kunitz that could have broken open a rout for the Penguins.
- Malkin looked like a man possessed and he was in his 2009 MVP form. 2 goals and an assist and the puck seemingly followed him around all night long, like it does for all the great ones when they're in a zone.
- Ben Lovejoy's the latest casualty with a broken wrist that he suffered when he attempted to check a Sharks player and fell into the boards. Lovejoy will be out an indefinite period of time, and recent call-up Alexandre Picard is likely to make his NHL season debut next game.
- Lovejoy's injury meant another Herculean night for Kris Letang. 33:56 time played. The game only lasted 65 minutes, so Letang literally played over half of the game. Not bad for a guy nursing an undisclosed injury, hadn't practiced in days and was said to be a game-time decision. What a total horse Letang has become.
- To put it into the game's context- the next Penguin in terms of time played was Brooks Orpik who played over five minutes less than Letang (28:46). Dan Boyle (30:00) led the Sharks in ice-time, who used no other players 24+ minutes.
- Something about being in California must have made Deryk Engelland think he was Bobby Orr. Engelland was rushing the puck, scored the game's first goal and generally looking competent and comfortable out there. Then right on the drop of the 2nd period he got in a tilt with Ryane Clowe, so I guess he still remembers his role.
- On that note, who would have guessed in a game with 6 even strength goals you would end up seeing Engelland end the night as a +3 and Paul Martin get caught with a -3. They play different levels of competition and have different roles, but hockey can be a strange game at times.
- Only one power play all night long, and it went for the Sharks. Nothing totally egregious missed in these eyes, but it seemed early in the season referees were erring on the side of "call the penalty" but tonight it was definitely "let the boys play". Will be interesting to see if this continues.
- It was just one game, but Martin Havlat (2 assists, +2, 6 shots on goal) sure looks to be fitting in pretty well out with his new team.
As mentioned above, 1 point out of a traditionally strong regular season team on the road three time zones away is never a bad thing. The Pens are staggered with the Lovejoy injury, but all in all they're lucky to take what they've got, given how the second half of that game turned out. It's never a good thing to blow a two goal third period lead, but that's life and hockey sometimes. On to the next one.