Wednesday, April 13, 2011

And We’re Off!!

by Jan Snyder

The boys brought their lunch pails to the Consol tonight. Brooks Orpik started off by welcoming Steven Stamkos to the playoffs with a whale of a hit. Max and James Neal took their cues from Orpik and continued the hitting.

The Flower was in full bloom as he made big save after big save in the first period.

Despite having six, count ‘m six, power plays, including a 5 on 3, the Pens couldn’t poke one in. But just as they improved from one period to the next, so did the power play. Even though they couldn’t score, they had good chances. Always good to hear the theme music from “Jaws” back for the playoff power plays!

By the end of the second, there was still no score, but we did have a Mr. and Mrs. Malkin sighting! In their usual seats, the two cheered for the team, but without Geno. I love to see traditions continue. Expect to see them soon again on the Kiss Cam!

Finally, 13:55 into the third, James Neal and Alexei Kovalev got together. After being thrown to the ice, Kovy took a minute or two to get back on his feet. He stood in the same spot, Neal found him, and bang! The game winning goal for Kovy – welcome back, we’ve really missed you! Neal and Martin had the assists. But before we could settle down from that one, Aaron Asham, the birthday boy, danced all the way around the net and with help from Letang and Orpik, popped in goal number two on the evening.

Now that’s more like it! All that was left was to preserve Fleury’s shutout, which the Pens did, and to top it off, Kunitz scored the empty net goal with assists from Staal and Orpik. That put a nice big bow on the inaugural playoff game at the Consol.

CBC's Hockey Night in Canada showed a shot of Sidney Crosby in the press box wearing a headset, obviously in communication with coaches or someone. Good to see the Captain involved somehow. I’d much rather see him centering Neal and Kovalev, but we’ll have to wait for that.

So good to have the first home win under our belts, to see the Flower get a shutout, to watch the top line click like they did, and to see Brooks Orpik continue the hitting we got used to seeing the year we brought Stanley home.

The d-men did an awesome job of neutralizing the big three for Tampa Bay. They kept them from being factors in the game. The refs did miss an obvious call on St. Louis, but they countered it by missing the trip on Kovy – but that had a happy ending anyway.

So, great game, great fans, great fun. Let’s do it all again on Friday. One down, three to go.


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