Every season there are about five crazy games that just make no sense.
Tuesday night was one of them for the Pittsburgh Penguins. It started just 9 seconds into the game, when Marc-Andre Fleury whiffed on a glove save and Dainius Zubrus blew a shot by him. It continued early in the second, when it appeared that Sidney Crosby may have scored a goal, but it proved to be inconclusive. What was very conclusive was the continuation of the play, where Jacob Josefson scored a short-handed breakaway to make it 2-1 Devils, instead of 2-1 Penguins. To make matters worse, Tuomo Ruutu put back a juicy rebound three minutes later to extend the lead to 3-1.
Usually a multi-goal hole to the Devils spells doom. But as mentioned above, this wasn't the usual game because the Penguins would score the next 7 goals to take an impressive, wild, fun 8-3 game that saw seven different goal scorers from the boys in black and gold.
The turning point of the game came quickly, with Pittsburgh already on a power play the Devils took a too many men penalty to give the Pens a two-man advantage. Bad idea. Patric Hornqvist set Evgeni Malkin up for a bomb of a shot that Cory Schneider had no chance on.
Then a few minutes later, Simon Despres would get some good fortune when a Devils player's stick broke and the puck came from him. Despres made a great pass up the ice to Hornqvist, who caught Schneider going down from a sharp angle, far out early for a goal he would probably like back. Pens are tied and feeling good.
It would get even better after Craig Adams took a penalty and Pittsburgh killed it off. Adams stepped out of the box and Brandon Sutter got him the puck for a breakaway. Craig Adams, of all people, scored for what appropriately would end up as the game winner in this crazy game.
The Pens weren't done though, but Schneider was, making way for veteran backup Scott Clemmensen. Crosby would score (for real) off a rebound before the second ended to make it 5-3. In the third period Steve Downie made a great pass to Pascal Dupuis for a second unit PP goal to make it 6-3. Downie would add a PP goal of his own later to make it 7-3. Crosby scored a slapper from far out for shits and gigs to complete the party.
A few more thoughts on the game:
- Olli Maatta was named 3rd star of the game. With 1 assist and 19:46 played, he didn't jump off the page, but oh yeah he just announced yesterday he's about to have surgery for a mass in his thyroid that is most likely cancer. Maatta now joins the most exclusive club, along with Mario Lemieux: only players to play with cancer in team history.
- Seven different goal scorers tonight, and 12 of the 18 players dressed recorded a point, and 7 multi-point scorers too. A deep team effort, to be sure, as to be expected on a night where 8 pucks go in the net.
- Continuing the well balanced theme: 33 shots on goal from 16 of the 18 skaters. Crosby had 6 shots on goal, but most had 1-2. Good depth there tonight. Also 14 of 18 Pens officially got a hit too.
- Best game in memory for Despres. 2 assists on great passes. +3. 3 hits, 2 blocked shots, 2 shots on goal. All in 13:43 total time played. For those wondering why Despres plays every night, this is why he plays every night.
- Kris Letang had 1 shot on goal (and 0 shots blocked and 0 shots missed net, officially). Kris Letang played 7:18 on the power play. This isn't good. Letang is hesitating big time when he seemingly has some pretty decent shooting lanes. Hopefully this changes soon, and his passes are good, but the Pens need that right-handed shot from the blue-line to put pucks to (and in) the net. It's a nitpick considering the outcome in the game, but when you drill down, it's the minor details that matter more going forward.
- Pens went 60% in the faceoff circle on 55 draws, led by Crosby winning 12 of 16 (75%).
- Those two goals by Sid, at least for tonight, put him back in first place in the league in scoring with 14 points in 8 games.
- Only 19 shots on goal for the Devils, and only 11 of them in the last 40 minutes of the game. They sort of slunk away as the game went along. The Pens had 24 shots on goal in those last 40 minutes. For all the talk about the Pens blowing leads, they stormed back and didn't pout at all after going down 3-1.
So now, perhaps the best win of the year. Lots of guys got involved, lots of goals, lots of fun. Let the good times roll. But, wait, the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings are coming to town on Thursday. Talk about a measuring stick game.