What can I say, the Pens did everything right tonight. They played hard and won just about every battle for the puck you could have imagined. Bottom line is, the Pens wanted it more and played much more discipline hockey than their opponents.
I want to quickly highlight my keys to the game from earlier.
- Weathering the Storm: The pressure put on by the Canes can be their biggest foe at times due to the amount of energy expended in doing so. I felt the Penguins exploited that in game 2 by almost allowing the Canes to pressure them and then beating them through the neutral zone. [Same thing happened tonight. Canes got the first goal then played the rest of the game on their heals.]
- Offensive Pressure: One of the most notable characteristics of game 2 was the pressure the Penguins actually put on Carolina. They kept the puck in their offensive zone and maintained solid puck possession, particularly on the power play. Sure Ward stopped 35 shots, but he let 6 of them in. I expect the Pens to do more of the same tonight. [More of the same indeed. The TWO-HEADED MONSTER reigned in Raleigh tonight.]
- Crashing the Net: Good things happen when you get in front of the net, ask Sid and Geno. But when you can continue to get decent shots and have players rush the net you will inevitably find a juicy rebound or two. [Geno's second goal was just that. He took it to the net and slipped a hot one by Ward. Good things happen.]
- Defense: As I said in the last pregame, taking care of the puck in your own zone is key. The Canes got two goals in game 2 due to shotty passes around our own net. The Canes aggressive forecheck will do that, but you need to get the puck out of your own zone, and early. [This is something that doesn't show up on the stat sheet when things go right, but clearly the Pens defensemen took care of the puck tonight.]
- Goaltending: MAF must be on point tonight. That first period of game 2 was something he'd like to forget. He performed much better as the game progressed, but ultimately it was the Pens offense that won the game for them. The pressure will come on him early, he needs to perform as he did in game 1. [Fleury stopped 32 of Carolina's 34 shots. Bravo to him, bravo.]
The game started off very intense. Carolina offered an immense amount of pressure to begin with and even getting that usually important first goal from Cullen. That was until Geno decided to tie it up by beating Ward with some typical deke maneuvering, 1-1. After that the game was back and forth on some good chances all around. But again that was until Geurin decided to feed the animal Crosby to make it 2-1 nearing the end of the period. But that wasn't it. Geno once again decided he wasn't about to let up and put another one on the board making it 3-1 to end the period.
Not much to talk about. No goals, good chances. Pens outshot the Canes 15-8, nearly identical to the first period 16-8. Despite the quality goaltending you could just sense the game was in the Penguins favor. Particularly after the dreaded Joe Corvo interview. There was also a random puck evaporation on the Canes first powerplay. Odd.
Nearly a carbon copy of the first. The Canes drew first blood to start off with a rebound keeper from Samsonov at the 1:58 mark. That got the Carolina fans back into the game and on their feet. The next goal didn't come until some 10 minutes later, but to their demise it wasn't a Canes goal. A three on two break lead by Geno dropping it back to Fedetenko made it 4-2. From there it was all Penguins. I can honestly say I don't remember seeing another shot on goal from the Canes. I know there was, but I don't remember. The Pens controlled the tempo of the game almost entirely after that goal. Afterward the Canes went on a power play for about a minute that didn't result in anything until Corvo went to the box for tripping Matt Cooke. The Canes tryed pulling Ward for a manual powerplay only to have Craig Adams earn a goal from Jokinen winning it back into his own net, 5-2. The arena was quiet, and Bill Geuring felt like exploiting that to make it 6-2.
GAME OVER. 3-0, end it Tuesday. I'll be there.
Notes:"The Loudest crowd in the NHL just let the Pens fans start the Cam Ward chant."
- Conn Smythe - Geno or Sid...both?
- So much for Ward's "eliete" goalie status.
- Joe Corvo is the new spokesman for Paxil.
- Cardiac Canes had a heart attack tonight.
- Craig Adams, unsung hero.