Before we even get started here I'd like to offer a big thank you to PensFan024 and KellyFisher who have joined up with Pensburgh. Thanks for joining the Pensburgh team and contributing in the first ever open thread. Many more to come!
On with the game. Wow, so many things went well I hardly know where to start. Erik Christensen fired out of the gate and played like a man possessed. Conklin was stopping everything in his path (with the obvious exception being two) and Malkin netted his first ever career hat trick.
Break it down...
The first period almost started off worse than anticipated on a near Darcy Tucker goal. Despite raising his arms in praise of the Hockey Gods, further video review from the eye in the sky proved the goal was in fact kept out by the savior Erik "Jesus" Christensen.
At about the halfway mark of the first period Jason Blake managed to score a goal past Conklin's left pad. 1-0 Leafs.
That would do it for scoring in the first as both teams headed into overtime with the Leafs leading 1-0.
The second period for the Pens brought with it a goal, a fight for the ages and another goal. First - the tying goal. Erik Christensen wrapped around the net on a Sykora shot to slip it past the former Devils' backup Clemmensen to tie the score at one. Shortly after Darcy Tucker decided he wanted to dance with Jarkko Ruutu. In the absence of Roberts it is now apparant that Therrien has turned to the roughneck for his gritty attitude and scrapping tendencies. He sure didn't disappoint. What may in fact go down as one of the greatest fights in hockey history, Tucker and Ruutu exchanged right after right. Both left for the box banged up and bloody, but I'm sure any Pens fan and the honest Leafs fan would agree Ruutu came out on top. Besides, Tucker was bloodied up pretty good from this one.
The second and go-ahead goal came from Malkin on a Crosby/Armstrong combo. The teams went into the third with the Pens leading 2-1.
The first three minutes of the third period were spent hoping the Pens would hold on to or pad the lead. Lo and behold, they took the puck and ran with it.
Within the span of 48 seconds the Penguins notched three goals and jumped to a 5-1 lead. Tyler Kennedy netted a beautiful backhand that followed up his own rebound. Shortly after, Malkin put in his second of the night to make the score 4-1. And finally, 11 seconds later, Sykora ended his eight-game scoreless drought with a goal to put the Pens in front with a commanding lead in the third.
About a minute or so later Ryan "Call me Karl" Malone dropped gloves with Mark Bell. I'd say it's safe to say it was a draw, although Malone ended it with an evident take down.
With about seven minutes remaining in the game, Jason Blake was awarded what seemed like an evident Pavel Kubina goal. The Sundin shot ricocheted off so many players in front of the net that it could very likely been Malkin's fourth of the game.
But he'd soon get his. With the Pens on the power play and the entire line looking for Malkin to get his well deserved reward, Gonchar dished it to Whitney who found a wide open Malkin shot teed up from about 10 feet out.
No offense to Malkin, but that left picture just screams "Drrrr."
Game. Set. Match. Pens win the game 6-2, Conklin improves to 6-0 and they extend their win-streak to five consecutive games. At this rate, the eminent returns of both Marc-Andre Fleury and Max Talbot can almost be treated with a "take your time, no rush" approach. If anything, getting Mad Max back before Fleury would be more of a priority. For one thing Conklin is definitely holding his own. And, for another, any leg/ankle injury to a goalie often takes more time to heal so as not to re-aggrivate it upon return.
Next game is against the Panthers on Saturday at 3pm. Make sure you remember because the schedule will say differently. The Pens made the time change so as to open up the evening for the Steelers as they take on the Jaguars in the AFC Wild Card game. Check out Behind the Steel Curtain for your Steelers coverage.