3/10/09: Penguins 4, Panthers 3 (SO)

The Penguins more or less dominated this game from beginning to end, and while I feel a bit greedy to be disappointed that they didn’t win this one in regulation even after trailing 3-1 going into the third, everything about this game indicated that the Penguins are a vastly superior team to the Panthers. The Pens outshot Florida an astonishing 52-20 including 18-5 in a third period that largely resembled a 20-minute Pittsburgh power play, and a series of spectacular saves by Tomas “I Get My Glove On Everything Including Shots Into The Stands” Vokoun singularly stole a point (and nearly 2) for the Panthers tonight.

The bad news for the Pens: Bryan McCabe and Nathan Horton, aka 40% of Florida’s power play and a solid 40+ minutes of Panther ice time, didn’t play tonight. Even more discouraging, the officials gave the Pens two absolute gift power plays (and six total power plays to Florida’s two) and Pittsburgh again pulled an 0-fer with the man advantage. The power play continues to be the Pens’ most baffling liability, and they’re running out of excuses; Crosby, Malkin, and Gonchar are all healthy, so are we now supposed to, I don’t know, lament the loss of Tim Wallace? I expect the Pens’ D to spastically break down every now and again (read: second Panthers goal), but how in the world can a power play with the Pens’ talent be ranked 25th in the league BEHIND THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS?

Also, for Pens fans who think they’ve been cursed with the only team in the NHL that doesn’t shoot the puck enough (sidenote: every fan of every team believes this), how about Richard Zednik’s non-shot in the final minutes of the third? He practically had the puck four feet from the goal line and tried to spin a pass to a winger who was below the net and in no position to physically shoot. It was like watching your Sega NHL ’94 player somehow pass the puck instead of shooting when you hit the C button; whoever was playing as the Panthers whipped their controller across the room and cursed out the computer for cheating after that one.

The good news: The Pens got two points after trailing 3-1 in a game that wasn’t Fleury’s best and certainly wasn’t the power play’s best, plus Sykora was still out, they totally avoided the cliche “letdown home game after a long road trip,” and they’ve now bombarded Florida with 97 shots in their last two meetings, which is absurd. They’ve won seven games in a row and are now 9-1-1 under Dan Bylsma.

Malkin logged 27:33 of ice time, which is ridiculous for a forward, even in an overtime game. Also, attempting to poke-check Malkin in a shootout is apparently the only way to make him score.

Tyler Kennedy looked outstanding tonight, and basically created the second Pens goal; having him on the third line is just a terrific depth-bonus.

– Why are NHL coaches always so stingy with their timeout? I thought for sure Peter DeBoer was gonna use his after the Pens got that third goal and the Arena exploded (not literally, yet), but he let the period proceed and the Pens almost scored about another 10 times. Though maybe he was trying to lure the Pens into a false sense of security to create that Zednik chance.

– Man, Jordan Staal is awesome and frustrating, but I know he’s had a generally positive game when I yell “YEAH! Way to get to the net, Staal!” more times than “THERE ARE NO HUMAN BEINGS WHERE THAT PASS WENT YOU DUMBASS.”

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