The Penguins took on the 1st place Dallas Stars last night at Consol Energy Center. The hype around James Neal and Matt Niskanen facing their former team came to fruition and ended with Neal showing up the Stars with two goals. Alex Goligoski made his return to Pittsburgh in a Stars sweater, but unfortunately did not play the entire game, leaving the ice in the second period with an upper body injury.
Tyler Kennedy did not play, placing call-up Eric Tangradi on the fourth line with Joe Vitale and Craig Adams.
Before I start the recap, my friends Brenna, Kelly and I would just like to pay a special thank you to whomever the couple next to us were. Brenna and I had game tickets, but Kelly did not. She was waiting for us at Tailgaters next door. The couple next to us had an extra game ticket and gave it to us so that Kelly could come down to the game. Amazing gesture. They would no let us pay them for the ticket. What generous and great fans this city has! That ticket faced at about $75. Absolutely incredible people. If they happen to see this, we cannot thank you enough for your generosity.
The boys donned their camo jerseys in pre-game warm-ups and as I had hoped, the fans all sang the national anthem with Sgt. Bob.
The first period had a good pace. Neal and Evgeni Malkin had a few great opportunities. However, Eric Nystrom lit the lamp first with 3:42 remaining in the period with a backhanded shot off a pass from Radek Dvorek, sending the puck right over Marc-Andre Fleury’s shoulder.
A few seconds later, Flower began stone-walling the Stars. Deryk Engelland laid out a hard hit and Tangradi showed a strong physical presence, which is my biggest complaint about his play at the NHL level. Before the end of the period, the Pens went on the power play when Stephane Robidas took a hooking penalty.
The Pens outshot the Stars in the first, but Kari Lehtonen wouldn’t let up. He currently leads the league in wins with 11. Flower is second with 9.
In the second, things started to get really interesting (and the fans actually woke up!). The Pens began the second period with 46 seconds left in their power play. Vitale went to the box for goalie interference, but the Pens killed it. Then Brooks Orpik took his turn with a tripping call. Killed. Unfortunately, Jamie Benn took a puck to the face. Thankfully got up pretty quickly as he was escorted to the locker room.
With a little over two minutes left in the period, Geno shot a one timer that found the back of the net. Goal horn sounds, but Blur’s Song 2 did not follow. Toronto reviews the goal. Goal waived. Says Chris Kunitz high sticked it above the cross-bar. Crap city. No worries, James Real Deal Neal to the rescue 24 seconds later one-timed a pass from Kuni and buried it. Tied game 1-1. Neal grabbed his 10th of the season.
In the third there was deja vu as a goal by Kunitz was waived due to goalie interference. The call was good, but disappointing. Once again, only about 20 seconds later Neal responded with another goal. There goes #11!!! The goal was originally thought to have been scored by Kuni, but apparently Neal was the last to touch the puck. I’ll take it.
A minute and a half later, Cooke takes the puck on a break away. Crashes the net, awarded a penalty shot. Oh mama. Cooke scores. Roof flies off of Consol.
Here is my shaky version:
You can see the nice, edited for tv version here though haha.
9 minutes left in the game and mass exodus starts.
Krystoffer Barch went to the box for boarding Letang who laid there for a good minute, giving me a complete heart attack (because the waived goals and penalty shot hadn’t killed me enough as it was). Thankfully got up. Pens go on the power play.
In the last seconds of the game, Malkin wrapped around the Star’s empty net and tried to pass it off to Neal for the hat trick. No go. Malkin actually had a completely clear shot to get himself a goal, but was a good team mate to Neal. Neal wanted that hat trick. He played like a monster the last few minutes, but no go.
Stars of the game:
3. Chris Kunitz
2. Matt Cooke
1. James Neal
- Head Coach Dan Byslma’s mustache has a very Tom Selleck feel. I found this picture of him with a full out beard though. Disturbing.
- Thank you to section 119 for helping me out in singing Happy Birthday to Brenna in the 3rd period.
- Brenna, Kelly and the guy behind us chanted a good portion of the game. Got it to catch on a few times. Right on, brotha.
- Pens are now 1st in the East and in the league. Stars in 1st in the West and 2nd in the league.
- How sick was Fleury in the third period?
- Phil Kessel needs to stop scoring. Kessel 12 goals, Neal 11.
To see more game pics, please check out my Picasa Web Album here.
Let’s Go Pens!