Has a player ever left the Penguins on more amicable terms than Sergei Gonchar? He and the Penguins mutually agreed to part ways after five productive seasons and a Stanley Cup, then he signed with a conference nonrival for an excellent salary, and the Penguins welcomed him back with a highlight reel at Consol, a standing ovation from the fans, and Penguin players tapping their sticks on their boards. I was half expecting Matt Cooke to line Gonchar up for a blind-side hit, then at the last second yell “SURPRISE!” and flip lights on and the rest of the Penguins would all be gathered in the conference room with party hats and a “55″ cake and everyone would hug and Gonchar would give an awkward thirty second speech then they’d eat and slowly disperse back to work.
That didn’t exactly happen. What did happen, though, was a third straight Penguins victory, keyed off a 3-0 Penguin lead after a wide-open First Period. The Pens managed 17 shots in the First and allowed 12, but still emerged up three goals after a slick Mike Comrie feed to Mark Letestu for his team-leading fourth goal, a bubble hockey-esque bounce off the end boards that Crosby hand-eye-coordinated behind Brian Elliot, and a faceoff that Ottawa cleanly won in their own defensive zone that they couldn’t corral, ended up on net, and was knocked in on the rebound by a fully outstretched diving Malkin.