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Pens battle back to salvage a point against Columbus in a 4-3 shootout loss

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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. 

SCOREBOARD WATCHING:

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)
Verdict: Good

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)