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Bueller? ... Bueller? Hedberg, Atlanta shuts out Penguins 1-0

ATLANTA - APRIL 10: Matt Cooke #24 of the Pittsburgh Penguins is knocked out by this right-handed punch from Evander Kane #9 of the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on April 10, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The most important thing that happened in this game happened at 1:53 of the second period, when Evander Kane knocked Matt Cooke out during a fight.  Cooke had to leave the ice and the game, although he did so under his own power.  Of course, we here at PensBurgh will keep you updated on any news of his condition.

Early in the first period, Arturs Kulda commited an interference penalty.  On the ensuing power play, Bill Guerin felled Jim Slater with a slapshot.  I can neither confirm nor deny that this was an act designed solely to dissuade Mr. Slater from attempting to have a rematch with Guerin.  As Slater lay on the ice writhing in pain, the Penguins passed around his body, failing to set up any decent scoring chances.

The rest of the period was a series of fruitless power plays for both sides, delays while a hole in the ice was patched, and tiffs between Kane and Sidney Crosby, one of which netted Michael Rupp a 10 minute misconduct, possibly for being too much of a man.

After the Kane/Cooke fight, the second period looked to be more of the same as the first, but Atlanta prevented that with a Bryan Little goal after the defense failed to clear rebounds in front of the net when Marc-Andre Fleury had no way to see the puck.  It was then time for stupid penalty theater, as Tyler Kennedy took a slashing penalty immediately after the goal.  Ron Hainsey flipped a puck over the glass.  Evgeni Malkin randomly cross-checked some guy.  Rupp decided that Kennedy was a role model and took a slashing penalty.

Ultimately, none of it mattered.  Both power plays looked inept, and the period ended with a 1-0 lead for Atlanta.

The third period began with another injury, this time even more problematic than Cooke's--Brooks Orpik's leg got cut by a skate.  Clearly, it was unintentional, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with.  This left the Pens down a forward and a defenseman for the rest of the game.  Despite that, the Penguins were all over the offensive zone in the third frame, but to no avail, as Johan Hedberg did his best Hasek impression, standing on his head to pick up a shutout in a meaningless game for the Thrashers.

  • The Penguins definitely looked more offensively capable than the Thrashers in the first period, lodging 9 shots to the Thrashers' 4.  Unfortunately, all 4 of Atlanta's shots were quality ones, and only 4 of Pittsburgh's shots were.  This might be due to Atlanta's trap keeping the good opportunities for shots to a minimum.
  • Epic battle between Eric Godard and Eric Boulton in the second period.  Dunman's gotta be pleased with that.
  • In the second period, Atlanta definitely had more chances than the Penguins.  Atlanta had 9 shots to Pittsburgh's 8, and 5 of those 9 were from prime scoring spots.  Only 3 of Pittsburgh's 8 shots were likewise good opportunities.
  • The Pens had 13 shots to Atlanta's 9 in the third period.  Five of Pittsburgh's were good chances, and the rest were outside the cone of goaltender death.

What to say about this game?  Certainly it was nothing to write home about.    With nothing to play for tomorrow, hopefully the team just tries to pad Crosby's stats to get him the Rocket Richard trophy.  Nothing else matters now.