Sunday, May 24, 2009

Eastern Conference Final: Game Three Pens/ Canes

Drive My Car – The Beatles

by Jan Snyder

Another Saturday night and time to do another happy dance! The Pens are up 3-0 in the series and they are certainly in the driver’s seat. “Beep beep and beep beep – yeah!”

As the team traveled to a city that is a NASCAR stronghold, they were met by a raucous crowd in Raleigh who certainly were intent on having a good time. I liked the way Max Talbot described the Hurricane fans. He said they create a great atmosphere, and unlike some other teams’ fans, they don’t say much to the opposition – they cheer for their own team and encourage them in every way. Good for them! They brought their cowbells and did their part.

That encouragement helped as the Canes’ Cullen tallied the first goal and ramped up the noise level in the building even more than it was before the game started. Having the Canes score the first goal was a change from the past games, so we had to wonder if this entire game would take a different turn.

But when the Pens went on the power play shortly after that goal, Geno and Sid, our beloved two-headed monster, steered things back on course. Geno scored, assisted by Sid and Gonchar. As the rapid first period moved along and with a mere 42 seconds left in it, Sid decided to make extra sure that they were traveling along the right road, and made it 2-1with a pretty goal. Geno’s half of the monster wanted to get in on the act too, so 31 seconds later, with only 11 seconds left in the period, he potted another and the first period ended with the Pens up 3-1.

*Time out for a U-Turn: How cool is it to see the terrific Ron Francis behind Carolina’s bench? Seeing him sure brings back great memories from the Cup years when he was such a huge part of the team, especially on the power play.

Although there was no scoring in the second period, there sure could have been, except that Cam Ward and Marc-Andre Fleury were both excellent. The lack of goals was not from any lack of trying on the part of either team. Each had the pedal to the metal!

The score was close going into the third and anything could still happen. As if to prove that true, Samsonov scored a nice, desperate goal while he was prone on the ice. Here they came, right on our bumper! We could see them closing in from our rearview mirror.

Not much later, Max sprung himself free and Geno hit him with a long, long pass. Max drove to the net with speed, but Ward veered the puck off in another direction. Nice try, anyway. Of course, Geno wasn’t finished yet. He made a nice pass over to Fedotenko who made sure it crossed the line and put the Pens up 4-2 making Geno’s point total three for the evening.

*Another U-Turn: Help me understand why the announcers on Versus and NHL Network are saying that Carolina had a lot taken out of them by playing two seven game series. Hello? The Pens played six tough games against the Flyers, followed by seven rugged ones against the Caps. My math skills aren’t great, but that seems to be only a one-game difference between the two teams.

Doing again what they do often, the Pens scored two more goals, just 40 seconds apart, and were now on cruise control. Adams won a faceoff and scored on an empty net from his own end. Then Guerin made a nice shot close in and made the final score 6-2. “Beep beep and beep beep, yeah!”

And now the Pens will spend two days in Carolina, resting and practicing, before the next game on Tuesday. The two Ferraris, Sid and Geno, can stay put in the garage for a couple of days and get tuned up and ready for Tuesday.

*U-Turns: Eric Cole’s beard is so full, so dark and so even that it almost looks like his face is covered in bees! Do you think Cam Ward will see Sid and Geno driving towards him in his dreams (or nightmares) tonight?

How absolutely fitting that Geno is playing in Pittsburgh. Maybe the Hockey Gods realized what an injustice was predicated on Mario Lemieux when his career was so often interrupted by injuries and serious illness. Maybe they thought to make up for that, they would send this great guy from Russia to be this generation’s Mario – at least in part because there will never be another Mario. But Geno’s flashes of brilliance, his loping style of skating, and his eye-popping goals, sure bring Mario to mind.

Let’s keep that motor tuned up and running like a champion for the next race on Tuesday.

Let’s Go, Pens!!

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