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The Close Ones

With the Penguins taking a four point division lead over the Devils last night, while also moving only one point behind the Canadiens in the Conference standings, I figured there to be no better time than now to look back on the games that could've altered the outcome overall.

A win is a win either way.  Although I'd like to present the games in which Pittsburgh came back from behind, technically those don't alter the current standings because the Pens still earned the two points.  Instead, I'd rather take a look at the shoulda, woulda, coulda but didn't games.  Emphasis is placed on finals that produced not a single point. (therefore OT and SO games are nixed.)

I now present to you - the close ones.

October 17, 2007 vs New Jersey
The score was tied at four heading into the third.  Malkin and Crosby were each holding down two point nights.  With just under 10-minutes remaining in the third, NJ's Asham whips one past MAF to take the lead and secure the game.

Final: 5-4 NJ

Current Reflection: a win could've given Pitt a six point lead over NJ in the division and the one point lead over Montreal in the conference.

October 25, 2007 vs Toronto
Once again the score was tied heading into the third with each team notching a goal.  The 1-1 stalemate was quickly blown apart as Toronto proceeded to score two quick goals less than 40 seconds apart, later followed by another two quick goals 32 seconds apart for a four goal unanswered rally.  Gonchar fired one in on the power play but it didn't matter.

Final: 5-2 Toronto

Current Reflection: Just the two points, Toronto probably still won't make the playoffs.

October 27, 2007 vs Montreal
Ok - it was a shootout loss to Montreal.  I said I wouldn't highlight shootout losses, but this one makes sense.  

Final: 4-3 Montreal, SO

Current Reflection: Pitt's victory in the shootout gives them the current lead over Montreal

November 1, 2007 vs Colorado
Pittsburgh took an early 2-0 lead over the Avs thanks to two first period goals from Crosby.  Colorado responded in the second period with three straight unanswered goals to win the game.

Final: 3-2 Colorado

Current Reflection: It was an unfortunate sign of things to come... (see below)

November 3, 2007 vs New York Islanders
Similar to the game two nights before the Pens jumped to a quick 2-0 lead.  And, holding true to that night's performance, the Penguins gave up three straight unanswered goals to lose the game.

Final: 3-2 New York

Current Reflection: At the time, it looked like the Pens were on the fringes of a slump.  Not to mention, they were already showing the signs of a not-so-great Division record.

November 12, 2007 vs New Jersey
Again, another game against the Devils that could've REALLY changed the current standings.  Another 2-2 tie in the third, but this time broken by an Elias goal with less than five minutes remaining.  Dany Sabouin received the loss on the night and the Pens were loses of four straight.

Final: 3-2 New Jersey

Current Reflection: Similar to the earlier aforementioned game against NJ, this could've really changed the Division standings and Conference hunt against Montreal had Pitt at least pulled out a point.

December 21, 2007 vs New York Islanders
The Penguins were up 2-1 only to lose the game 4-2 on three straight unanswered goals.

Final: 4-2 NYI

Current Reflection: Man, I should have seen this as a sign : the Islanders were on course to be a problem all year.


January 24, 2007 vs Philadelphia
Ryan Whitney tied the score at three in the third with a shorthanded marker.  The Flyers had kept the Pens winless all season and it looked like Pitt would at least manage a point on the night.  Yet that was a short-lived philosophy, as Mike Knuble scored the game winner 34 seconds later.

Final: 4-3 Philly

Current Reflection: A win helps Pitt but would also have really hindered Philly's chance of making the playoffs - as is the case with every Pitt loss to Philly early in the season.

February 13, 2008 vs Boston
Boston came out with a quick 2-0 lead and didn't hesitate to rely on the boring neutral zone trap that they've become so famous for this season.  It looked like Tim Thomas would gain the shutout on the day, but luckily Malkin notched a goal in the third to at least trim it to 2-1.  In any case, Pitt failed to score another and lost the game.

Final: 2-1 Boston

Current Reflection: It doesn't alter Pitt all that much, but if the Penguins manage to claim the Conference and Boston slips into 8th for a playoff spot then this game suddenly poses as a problem the Pens have to deal with.

February 23, 2008 vs Ottawa
Again, and overtime game I said I'd try and avoid but this one is worth talking about.  The Pens were pretty hot on the shootout all year and looked like they'd have a chance once again with seconds trickling down in the 3-3 OT tie.  Ironically seconds is all Daniel Alfredsson needed when he put one past Conklin with four seconds remaining to seal the two point victory for Ottawa.

Final: 4-3 Ottawa OT

Current Reflection: This one just hurt - the true emphasis of shoulda, woulda, coulda...but didn't.

That takes us up to the current schedule.  With any luck Pitt won't have many more close calls like these.  But when you consider these games and look back on the schedule; a simple goal, a few seconds and a shot just wide of the net coulda, woulda, shoulda but didn't change a thing.