The shootout is a glorified gimmick. All things considered, you might as well flip a coin to decide the winner. But perhaps it's fitting it came down to a skills competition tonight; the Penguins carried the play in the opening 5-6 minutes but then Columbus took over until the end of the 2nd period. The Pens would storm back with 19 shots in the 3rd period--equaling their total of the opening two periods combined. Some thoughts in bullet form:
- I sure wouldn't want to play the Blue Jackets in the opening round of the playoffs. They just seem destined to be a 6/7/8 seed this spring that could make some noise against a higher ranked team.
- If Rick Nash played in a market like Toronto or Montreal he'd probably be considered one of the top 5 players in the game. He's got it all, but he flies under the radar.
- The Penguins slept-walked through the opening stanzas and dug themselves a hole. They're making a habit of coming back in the 3rd (which is good) but it would be better if they could avoid that hole in the first place.
- Marc-Andre Fleury flubbed a decision to play the puck that led to the first goal, but other than that he made several amazing, outstanding, terrific saves. Without MAF it's much worse than a 3-0 game.
- Eventful game for your league leading scorer, Evgeni Malkin. He took the puck to the net strong, took a little bump and ended up in bowling over Steve Mason. Then he went to the net again and Mike "Make it Rain" Commodore drove Malkin down into the cross-bar, leaving a nasty abrasion.
The comeback...The Pens scored three goals in just over 3 minutes...Let's take a closer look:
- The Pens got a 5 on 3 power-play but didn't convert...Still, they kept calm and Sidney Crosby got the puck to Sergei Gonchar. Sarge ripped a slapper that may or may not have been tipped by Chris Kunitz. I thought Kunitz got it (someone definitely did), but the NHL officially still has the goal credited to #55 as of this writing. It's now 3-1 and the Penguins have cracked the board.
- A minute and twenty seconds later Malkin gets the puck, flips it to Pascal Dupuis who quickly roofs it from point blank. Now it's 3-2 and the Pens are really believing.
- About two minutes later, Malkin and Crosby each made a nifty play on the 3rd goal. Crosby corralled the puck down low, took a hit and managed to get it to Geno in the corner...Malkin hesitated for a second, allowing two defensemen to lock onto him, then flipped the puck to a wide open Maxime Talbot who drilled it past Mason. Tie game and the blood is definitely in the water.
But that's all the Pens could get. A furious 3rd period effort, but they just ran out of time. So the winning streak is over, but the Penguins still got a point from a team that would make the playoffs if they started today (they don't). So it's time to look ahead; there is no rest for the team, as they have two weekend matinee games against Ottawa and Boston. But Pittsburgh starts a season long eight game homestand and won't have to travel for an incredible three weeks, almost unheard of in the NHL.
Montreal 2 NYI 2 (Currently in OT)
Verdict: Well it's NYI, so if they can pop one in OT or take the SO it's gotta be considered a minor bonus.
NY Rangers 4 Nashville 2 (in progress as of now)
Verdict: Not ideal
Dallas 3 Carolina 1 (in progress)
Buffalo 3 Florida 1 (F)
Verdict: Good, atleast it wasn't an over-time game where both teams get something
Washington 2 Philadelphia 1 (F)
Verdict: Good--the Pens aren't catching the Caps but it's good to see Philly lose in regulation...The Flyers are only 3 points ahead of Pittsburgh (though Philly does have 3 games in hand)