[GENO TAKES THE BANNER]
Pens are now up 2-0. This was to be expected seeing as they were on their home ice to begin with. But the Hurricanes are not a team to be taken lightly. I'm sure they expected to steal one on the road...Sid and Geno had none of it.
The Pens started off quite well with Crosby scoring the first goal just under 2 minutes into the game. That ignited the team and crowd, but only for a little over a minute, then Fleury let LaRose have a freebie. Then at the 8:15 mark in the first Malkin gets on the board with a goal of his own. Things were looking real well for the Pens with their top two players getting on the score sheet early. But again that fire was put out by Carolina as they scored on a Jussi Jokinen goal just 35 seconds later. Then at the 12:10 mark Seidenberg launches one past Fleury to make it 3-2 at the end of the first. At that point I just felt both teams were playing well offensively and neither was doing very much on the defensive end; particularly the goaltending.
Heading into the second period we saw a much better defensive effort all the way around. But it was all Pittsburgh in the offensively out shooting the Canes 16-6. The only goal of the period was Max Talbot's breakaway slapper past Ward, assisted by Crosby and Geno. At that point it looked like it was going to be a barn burner. That is until Chris Kunitz ended his 19 game draught and scored with just 7 seconds to go giving the Pens a 4-3 lead heading into the 3rd.
I was pretty confident the Canes were going to strike first in the 3rd and I wasn't made a liar. Eves put one past Fleury to ties things up just under 3 minutes into the period. But that was right before the "Geno Show" began. At the 8:50 mark Malkin scored on a juicy rebound in front of the net to give the lead back to the Penguins. At this time Pens fans including myself were quite excited, though cautious seeing how this game was going with the Canes answering every goal we scored within 3 minutes at the most. But then Geno decided it was time to show why in fact he won the scoring title. He was a beast all over the ice and simply created a many scoring chances. None better than his hat-trick backhander over the left shoulder of Ward. This had to be the best goals I can recall seeing in the playoffs in a while. That was the dagger. Carolina had no choice but to pull Ward with under 2 mintues to try and get a goal, to get something started. To their dismay the Pens kept up the pressure and didn't let up. Tyler Kennedy was able to score an empty netter to put the game out of reach and allow the Pens to win 7-4 taking a 2-0 lead in the ECF series.
- The TWO-HEADED MONSTER was in full effect. They were responsible for 6 of the 7 goals scored in the game. Crosby did what we needed and had 4 SOG, one making it in. Geno had 8, three of which made it through.
- Hats off to the defense of the Pens for doing just what Bylsma wanted them to do, save the first period. They took care of the puck when Carolina kept the backchecking up. They won many of the scrubs along the walls. They even blocked 11 shots.
- Pens won the faceoff battle 38-33 which is very impressive considering the last series versus Washington.
- Bravo to Satan for his stellar fight at the end. I seen at least 3 punches landed.
Heading to Raleigh on Saturday the Penguins need to keep their minds fixed on what made them successful. The most notable item is the amount of chances they had as opposed to last game (42 to 31). As I said here, Ward will have something to say about this, but the more chances the better. And the better chances the better. And of the 42 total SOG many of them were quality chances. I also felt the Pens had more grit and played with that urgency, something I mentioned in the pregame. Another worthy function was the way the Pens adjusted to the pressure of the Canes. Essentially they allowed the Canes to maneuver their pressure then attack when necessary. It was clear that the Pens would allow the Canes to get tired with the amount of effort they put in, then capitalized on it; and at the right time. I expect to see more of this play heading into the game on Saturday. I haven't listened to the post game interviews yet (I will tomorrow), I'll bet you'll hear the Pens speak highly of each others efforts [especially Geno], but note they will not make any changes in their overall scheme. Other than Fleury tightening up the goals everything should remain the same.