Heather Wampler – WPAathletics.com
The Penguins hosted the Boston Bruins Saturday night at the Mellon Arena. Going into the game I usually read the Penguins website for any last minute updates or anything that may have happened throughout the day. Guess how shocked I was when I read that forward Chris Kunitz was out for 2 weeks with a lower-body injury. 6 key players out! Now you may be saying but Heather there are 7 players out. Nuh uh. Not anymore. I’m happy to announce that center and Russian superstar Evgeni Malkin is back and the Penguins finally had a high scoring game.
At the start of the game I was slightly surprised to see Brent Johnson in goal instead of the usual Marc-Andre Fleury. That was quickly squashed by the goal that was scored at 1:42 into the period by Penguins defenseman Jay McKee, assisted by Evgeni Malkin and Rouslan Fedetenko. This was McKee’s first goal in 84 games and Malkins first point back since his injury. It just so happens Malkins goal happened on the first shift of his first game back. Pretty impressive, no? Of course what hockey game is complete without a good ol’ fashioned fight? Deryk Engelland and Byron Bitz threw down gloves and sticks at the faceoff. It’s always nice to see one but it’s even better when your team is beating the ever living snot out of the other guy, which is what Engelland did. The fight resulted in a 5 minute major penalty to both players. 8:29 into the 1st Bruin right wing Blake Wheeler scored the first goal of the night for Boston tying up the game 1-1. He was assisted by David Krejci and Matt Hunwic. A few scoreless penalties later at 16:24 left wing Pascal Dupuis scored the second Penguins goal assisted by Matt Cooke and Ben Lovejoy.
With the Penguins being in the lead going into the 2nd period my hopes were high. They were playing like the team I have come to love; however, my heart sank at 3:33 into the period when center Craig Adams gave the puck away to Bruins right wing Michael Ryder who sent a shot sailing in past Johnson, assisted by Blake Wheeler. The game turned around when Captain Sidney Crosby finally scored his first goal in 8 games at 9:19 assisted by Alex Goligoski and Evgeni Malkin. The Bruins responded to Crosby’s goal with one of their own. Boston’s Derek Morris scored when his shot deflected off of Penguins defenseman Deryk Engellands stick and past Johnson 15:02 into the second. He was assisted by Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. Both teams battled it out for the remaining 5 minutes of the period but the goalies deflected the rest of the shots.
The Pens came back from the 2nd intermission ready to go. Defenseman Mark Eaton gave the Pens a 4-3 lead 9:00 into the period after taking an across the ice pass from Crosby. Fedetenko was also in on the assist. Defenseman Matt Cooke received a double minor penalty of 4 minutes at 11:50 resulting in a Bruins power play, 44 seconds later Crosby received a 2 minute tripping penalty giving the Bruins a 5 on 3 advantage. David Krejci used this opportunity to slap a wrist shot in past Johnson at 14:13 with only seconds to spare before Cooke’s penalty was over. He was assisted by Zdeno Chara and Derek Morris. Breaking from the games pattern of scoring, Bruins left wing Marco Sturum deflected Charas shot in off his stick at 17:31 giving the Bruins a 5-4 lead. After this goal my heart sunk once again, but my husband kept saying it’s not over yet. Coach Dan Bylsma pulled Johnson to give the Pens a man advantage and a chance to tie up the game and go into overtime. With a minute left in the 3rd I started losing hope especially when the puck went sailing into the Penguins end. That was until Crosby got his stick on the puck. He passed it up to Malkin who then shot it across the ice to right wing Billy Guerin. Guerin then shot the biscuit in past Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas with only .04 seconds left in the game sending it into overtime.
After my husband and I finished jumping up and down in disbelief that Guerin scored with less than 1 second left we could not wait for OT to start.
Expecting it to go on for the full 5 minutes and possibly go to a shoot out I was surprised when the game ended 1:24 in with Pascal Dupuis’ backhand shot in past Thomas assisted by Jordan Staal.
The Penguins finally won. Perhaps all they needed was one of their key players back from injury to give the team a confidence boost. It was a great thing to see the two-headed monster on the ice and kicking…well kicking what they kick. Shots on goal were even 33-33 at the end of OT. Seeing the Pens finally get back into the groove of things was such a refresher. Now, as long as the Steelers can skin the Bengals on Sunday this weekend will be perfect.
The Penguins host the Anaheim Ducks on Monday, November 16 at 7:30 pm.