12:30 P.M. – It’s a cold day in Pittsburgh and I got stuck on 79 this morning behind a tractor trailer. The fans are filing into the arena and the teams are just now taking the ice for the pre-game skate.
12:31 P.M. Brooks Orpik is a game time decision today, but he is on the ice for the pre-game skate. Always an encouraging sign. Theissen is the backup for Fleury tonight.
12:49 P.M. Warm-ups are over and we’re 15 minutes away from the opening festivities here. Hopefully, some of you Pens fans got a chance to watch Joe Morrow and Dominik Uher on ROOT sports last night. Uher scored a fantastic goal for Spokane and Joe Morrow’s skating was on display all night long. We also got a chance to take a look at 2012 prospect Derrick Pouliot.
1:02 P.M. Lights are out and we’re getting ready to roll. Scratches today for the Penguins are Ben Lovejoy, Dustin Jeffrey, and Brent Johnson. For Tampa, Ryan Shannon is out of the lineup as well.
Tampa starting off with Eric Brewer, Brendan Mikkelson, Nate Thompson, Steven Stamkos, and Ryan Malone.
Pens answer with Zbynek Michalek, Brooks Orpik, Chris Kunitz, James Neal, and Evgeni Malkin.
1:04 P.M. Anthems starting now. Remember folks, Fleury has been very good in games following a shutout performance.
19:44 1st Geno kicks this one off and is held through the neutral zone with no call. Early goings looks like Malkin has the wheels ready to roll.
19:21 1st It’s always interesting to watch Victor Hedman on the ice. The young power Swede has yet to really develop into what Tampa thought he might become when they drafted him.
17:10 Roloson played Staal’s broken stick right into the boards to disrput the Penguins flow. No change in system for Bylsma, puck gets deep, two forwards get on it.
15:31 Pens kil off an early Tampa power-play. The Lightning never got the puck fully set up thanks in part to Pascal Dupuis and his no-nonsense approach to penalty killing. Cooke, Staal, and Dupuis all have 2 shorthanded goals this year.
13:07 1st Paul Martin with a partial breakaway on Dwayne Roloson, can’t finish the play. Lots of neutral zone jousting for these teams, as to be expected with Tampa’s systematic approach to defensive play.
10:40 1st Unbelievable sprawling save by Fleury on Tampa’s best chance of the game. Not a lot of action from the Lightning other than that. SHots are 5 to 3 in favor of the Penguins.
9:56 1st Tampa still utilizing the 1-3-1 trap in the neutral zone. The Penguins have really come with speed on their dump-in’s to put pressure on the away team’s puck retrieval.
8:51 1st – PENGUINS GOAL!!!! Roloson takes a defeated looking skate after Kunitz takes a pass from Geno from the low left circle that sailed high and handcuffed Roloson. Sneaky shot by Kunitz for his 17th of the season. The Malkin line’s big wheels keep on rolling. Malkin and Neal on the assists.
8:01 1st – PENGUINS GOAL!!!! Before I can even finish typing about the last play. Matt Cooke notches another tally for the Pens. The puck deflected on net and bounced. Cookie found it and battled it home in the front of the cage. No Tampa defenseman was anywhere to be found. 2-0 Penguins!
5:20 1st- PENGUINS GOAL!!!! Shorthanded tally by Jordan Staal! 3-0 Penguins. 20th goal for Staal. Hedman misplayed the puck at the point and the linesman interfered with Hedman getting back to Staal. Staal skated in with speed and beat Roloson 5 hole on a subtle wrister. The linesman, Jay Sharrers, was really catching hell from the Tampa bench and players.
3:15 1st Color me a fan of Michalek/Niskanen on the same pairing. They can both skate, and their on-ice communication seems excellent. Even at 9 shots a piece right now. Roloson’s save percentage is taking a beating.
.32 1st After some sustained pressure by the Pens and a near goal by Dupuis, Tampa charges the net and Fleury again sprawls out to make a 10 Bell save. The net is dislodged and we have a faceoff to Fleury’s left. The Penguins netminder really seems focused again today.
End of the first period. Penguins lead Tampa 3-0. Shots are 9-11 in favor of the Lightning
20:00 2nd The second period is underway here inside CONSOL energy center. The Penguins are looking to maintain their 3-0 lead as this game progresses. Look for the offense to get the puck deep and play 60% of their game in the Tampa zone!
15:43 2nd First Fleury chant of the night starts up. Tampa has been pouring it on here. The Pens do not have a shot this period and Tampa has made Fleury stay strong in the cage.
14:09 2nd Engelland just dropped them with Mike Angelidis. Give the decision to #5 in black.
13:53 2nd St. Louis just stopped on a breakaway by Fleury.
11:37 2nd Geno takes the puck HARD to the net all the way from the point. Crashes into Roloson. Hedman retaliates. Craig Adams comes in and starts throwing shoulders around. All 5 players from both teams in a scrum. Fans going berzerk. Geno had to be restrained by the officials.
Even up calls. Even though the Tampa infractions were a bit more egregious. And in front of the head of officiating, Stephen Walkom.
11:06 2nd There’s your even up call. Penguins going on the power-play. 4 on 3 advantage here.
9:49 2nd – PENGUINS GOAL!!!! Neal made a fantastic play in his own zone, shot the puck up the wall to Sullivan, who had a beautiful give-and-go with Jordan Staal to give him his 2nd goal of the night. 4-0 Penguins.
8:37 2nd Fleury chants erupt again as MAF robs Tampa in tight once again. Seems like the Penguin netminder doesn’t have an issue with all the starts he’s been getting.
6:44 2nd Worth mentioning Joe Vitale’s name today. The guy never stops working hard. Shots are currently 18-21 favoring Tampa. Roloson’s numbers haven’t gotten any better, but it looks like Tampa is about to go on the power-play as I type this.
3:57 2nd – PENGUINS GOAL!!!! EVGENI MALKIN! What a SNIPE!!! From all the way on the right circle along the boards, Malkin shoots and beats Roloson at a very bizarre angle! 24th goal for Geno. Assisted by Kunitz and Engelland. 5-0 Penguins!
2:59 2nd Joe Vitale suckers Mikkelsson into a fight. Vitale had a penalty coming, the Lightning were on the run, and Vitale suckered him into a fight to get a whistle and take a Tampa defenseman off the ice with him for 5 minutes.
2:32 2nd The shutout is over for Fleury. Teddy Purcell scores on a net-front scrum. 5-1 Pittsburgh.
00:00 2nd A little controversy as the period ends here. Tampa on the power-play, shot from the slot clearly hits the post, Martin St. Louis begins to slam his stick off the ice and scream at the officials. Reviewed, clearly no goal, 2nd period is over.
End of the second period. 5-1 Pittsburgh. Shots are 21-25 in favor of Tampa.
20:00 3rd Getting ready to start the 3rd period here. Tempers are high. Tampa is fired up. The Penguins need to remain on the offensive here.
15:52 3rd Lots of back and forth here. Staal and Geno got to kill the end of a penalty together and looked great in the process. Pens maintaining some possession on the Lightning right now. Shots are 24-28 Tampa.
14:10 3rd JUST PUT A #66 ON THE BACK OF HIS JERSEY. CEC breaks out in an MVP chant for the first time. Evgeni Malkin just deked through the entire Tampa 1-3-1 and beat Roloson like a rented mule. That MIGHT be the best goal I have ever seen Geno score in his career.
9:19 3rd The score remains 6-1 Pittsburgh. The arena is still buzzing here about Geno’s goal. Geno took the puck in the neutral zone in the face of the full Tampa 1-3-1. He skated in, deked the entire team, and undressed Roloson a la Lemieux/Casey. REally just an amazing job by the current NHL points leader.
As I type this, Cotton Eye Joe is cued up in the CEC. The Penguins victory song.
6:18 3rd Here come the hats. Geno scores from the front of the net and completes the hat trick. His 36th goal of the year. 9th career hat trick. Methinks the NHL’s leading scorer wanted to show Steven Stamkos a thing or two about leading the pack. Just an amazing night for Geno. Really a career game.
5:43 3rd MVP chants continue in the CEC. Evgeni Malkin’s performance has everyone in a good mood here. 7-1 is the score and Malkin has 4 points on the night. Really just an astounding performance from the best player in the world right now.
2:26 3rd It’s amazing to me that Roloson has remained in net for the Lightning this entire time. Really got shelled today. Tampa has a lot of problems heading into the playoff race, goaltending being one of them.
The game clock is expiring as we speak. Fleury makes one final save with 11.5 seconds remaining. His 31st of the night.
Who do you make 1st star here, Geno or Fleury?