They continue to amaze

Offense: B

Well, it was an F after two periods, so that tells you how good they were in the third period. They seemed to have trouble handling Carolina’s speed in the first half of the game. Carolina moves the puck very quickly out of their own end, and that led to the Pens basically having no forecheck at all. They also had little in the way of transition. But that changed in the third. They came with speed at the ‘Canes, and got two goals as a result. First, Christensen made a tough play off an odd-man break. He got cross-checked, but got right back up and whipped home a nice pass from Talbot. That play seemed to awaken the Pens, and they were dominant after that. They added another even-strength goal on a brilliant individual play by Malkin, who basically went end-to-end. He came at Cam Ward with such speed that Ward never had a chance. Just a highlight reel goal.

Defense: B

Same story here. Carolina is a team that likes to shoot from anywhere, and they certainly did that early on. The Pens were pretty awful defensively in the first period, allowing 15 shots. But they allowed only 13 the next two periods combined. Again, it seemed they weren’t prepared for Carolina’s speed. But they got much better as the game went on, and really cut down the scoring chances to almost zero. The only goal Carolina got was off a bad bounce that went right to the well-traveled Sergei Samsonov in front, and he buried it past a startled Conklin.

Power play: A

For once, the power play came through at a key time, as it scored twice in the third period. Once again, both goals followed the KISS principle (that’s keep it simple, stupid). On both goals, they took a long shot that was screened, and they had bodies in front. On each, Ward was able to stop the initial shot, but not the rebound. Dirty goals. That’s how a power play should work. On the first one, the suddenly awakened Ryan Malone (four goals in five games) batted a puck out of the air and past Ward (and just barely over the line). How Mick McGoof didn’t see it cross the line baffles me (oh, no it doesn’t—it’s McGoof). The second goal was almost a carbon copy. But this time it was Sykora batting in the rebound. Amazing how effective a “simple” power play can be.

Penalty kill: A

A great game killing penalties. They really didn’t allow the Hurricanes much at all. They stayed disciplined in the box. They did have trouble clearing the puck at times, but kept most everything to the outside. Carolina rarely threatened while up a man.

Goaltending: A

A strong bounce-back performance by Conklin. He was coming off perhaps his worst start against Atlanta. But he was razor-sharp in this one. He did allow some rebounds early on when Carolina was peppering him with long shots. That went away as the game wore on. He was moving the puck all night long, keeping the Hurricanes from establishing a forecheck. And, most importantly, he made several huge saves to keep the Pens in the game the first two periods. They easily could have been down 3-0, but he kept it at 1 and gave them a chance. And the team rewarded him with a win.

Pens goaltending since Fleury went down: 16-7-2, 2.36 GAA, .924 save percentage (Conklin is 12-3-2, 1.93, .940.

Overall: B

They were dominated for two periods, but found themselves only down 1-0. Then Erik Christensen’s goal seemed to ignite them. They totally dominated the third period, and won it going away. The special teams were great, as was the goaltending. And that was enough to carry the day.

And now, the rest of the story…

Erik Christensen: A

He was all over the ice, and had several great chances against Ward. And he finally put one in to ignite the Penguin rally. I thought he should have been one of the three stars. he is playing with confidence right now, and look out when that happens.

The Three Cenors Line: A

You can thank my wife for this name. The second line was comprised of three centers (Christensen, Talbot, Staal), and they looked awesome all night. Okay, maybe they aren’t quite as awesome as the Domingo-Carreras-Pavarotti trio, but they did sing a damn fine tune against Carolina. They were the only line generating chances the first two periods, and the goal they got ignited the team. They worked very well together.

Evgeni Malkin: B

Yes, he had three points in the third period. Yes, he scored a beautiful goal. But that doesn’t totally erase the memory of the first two periods, when he was just brutal. He had one giveaway after another. He seemed totally out of the game, and on another planet. He had one hideous giveaway where he tried to “dippsey doodle” right in front of his own net. But he rallied with a tremendous third period.

Tom Barrasso: F

So Steigy tried to talk to good old Tommy before the game, and Tommy was “not exactly cordial.” Gee, there’s a shock. And they wonder why Ward seems to have regressed this year.

Giveaways: F

They had way too many of them the first two periods. No wonder they weren’t getting many shots.

Faceoffs: F

They continue to get killed in this area with Sid out.

Tonight: 27/62, 44%. Power play: 4/8, 50%.
Overall since Sid went out: 44.5%/47.6%

Striped Buffoon Huh? Call of the Game

The only thing I can come up with is the no-goal call on Malone’s goal. I guess there vision was obstructed (insert joke here). Other than that, they actually called a good game

Monk Moment

Evgeni Malkin’s rush up the length of the ice and around several Hurricanes to score the third goal. He was determined to score on that rush, and wasn’t going to be denied. Breathtaking!

A guide to the game grades can be found here