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Martin Skoula scores two, Penguins beat Thrashers 3-2

Just to clarify from the preview, before the puck even dropped we discovered that former Pen Johan Hedberg would be starting in net for ATL.

  • I don't want to jinx anything, but the Penguins PP might be on its way back.  Not perfect yet, but definitely improving.  Coming into tonight's game the Pens scored a PP goal in two-straight games. Eight minutes into this one they'd extend that to three-straight when Martin Skoula let one go from the point to put the Pens in front with the early 1-0 lead.
  • Honorable mention on that goal: Chris Bourque picked up his third assist as a Penguin. Can't confirm it, but the pass may have been a shot that horribly missed the mark.  Jay Kayyyyy
  • Former Pen Colby Armstrong looked ready to play early on when he led a 2-on-1 rush in on Fleury. Gonchar showed he's more than just a PP specialist, making a great slide/dive to shut Army down.
  • The Pens PK got put to the test around the nine-minute mark in the first. Great work by Max and co., especially when Max led a rush back the other way that just nearly missed putting the Pens up 2-0.
  • Announcer fail: Bob Errey makes reference to Atlanta's "sellout crowd." Judging by the look of the broadcast, you'd have a better chance counting the occupied seats than you would the empty ones.

After the jump: Pens get a penalty shot, Kovalchuk fights


  • Great feature on Consol Energy Center during the first intermission. For those who didn't get a chance to catch it, hopefully the Pens will have it available online soon.
  • The Thrashers left Hedberg all alone for a lot of solid Pittsburgh drives. Malkin couldn't capitalize on a great look, Fedotenko missed wide on another. To top it off the Pens were creating a lot of traffic in front of Moose, but who picked up the second Penguins goal? Martin Skoula on a great shot from the boards.
  • Pens kept the pressure on and didn't let up one bit. Malkin, who missed a clear lane earlier, crossed the blue line around the eight minute mark and let one loose on goal. A weird bounce and deflection off a Thrashers player allowed the puck to slip right past Hedberg. Even Errey reverted back to his math, calculating that "one stick + one butt = one goal." Add it up any way you want. You still get 3-0 Pens.
  • With just about 4:30 remaining in the second, Chris Bourque went to the box for two in what can only be described as a phantom trip on Maxim Afinogenov. If you're looking for a textbook example of how to sell a penalty, you'll want to check this one out.  (video courtesy of GhostWalker40)
  • The Pens killed off the penalty and Bourque bolted out of the box. He dished off a touch pass to Max Talbot to open up a breakaway on Hedberg. Max got the shot off but was also hauled down from behind. Refs awarded a penalty shot as we all sat on the edge of our seats.
  • No dice. Hedberg skated out to what looked like center ice to challenge Talbot, cutting down every angle and giving Max nothing to work with. Puck launched wide of the net. Still 3-0 Pittsburgh.
  • Evander Kane vs. Deryk Engelland, 18:14 into the second period. More on that tomorrow.
  • A few minutes into the third period, FSN filled us in on some interesting info: Last Penguins defenseman to score a hat trick - Paul Coffey, 1988.
  • Maybe Kovalchuk was looking to fire up his team. Maybe Matt Cooke finally got under his skin. Whatever it was, everything came to a head around the 13-minute mark as Kovalchuk and Cooke squared off. Of course the FSN cameraman was taking a coffee break for the first few seconds of the fight, but when the camera finally did cut to the action Kovi had his jersey over his head and was blindly throwing punches at Cookie. Pens get a four-minute PP out of the deal and Kovi picked up 14 minutes in penalties. He'd head off to the dressing room and not return.
  • While still on the PP, a blotched slashing call on Malkin opened up an Atlanta 2-on-1 the other way. Fleury did what he could but the Pens give up a shorty. 3-1 Penguins.
  • Hedberg went off to the bench with about two minutes left to play.  Pens couldn't ice it with an empty net goal.  With about 20 seconds left Atlanta takes to the Pittsburgh zone and make something out of nothing.  Afinogenov received credit for the goal, one that announcers often describe as a "bang-bang play."

FINAL: 3-2

Worth noting:

  • Pens snap Atlanta's four-game point streak
  • Kovalchuk held pointless for first time since returning from injury
  • First road win for the Pens in four road games.
  • One day Fleury will get an empty netter.  One day.
  • The PP scored and looks good, but those two shorties hurt