Sunday, June 7, 2009

Datsyuk Returns and Leads Detroit to Within One Win of Back-To-Back Championships

Datsyuk Returns and Leads Det to Within One Win of Back-to Back Championships.

Quick note. Sorry for no blog on Game 4 that Pittsburgh won 4-2. This was because of my computer problems that I have been having. To recap Game 4 Quickly the Penguins tied the series at 2 and had 3 very nice goals scored in the second period. One a a pretty rush by Jordan Staal, one on a nice two on one feed from Malkin to Crosby and the other on a tic tac toe feed between Crosby and Tyler Kennedy.

On to last nights game. The Detroit Red Wings played the best game of the series in dominating the Penguins at Joe Louis Arena 5-0. They were led by Pavel Datsyuk (2 Assists) in his first game back since May 22. Herik Zetteberg also had a nice game with a goal and an assist in Detroit's dominant victory. The first period was pretty evenly played where Pittsburgh actually outshot Det 10-8 but the Wings drew first blood. Dan Cleary scored about halfway through the first to make it 1-0 Wings on a nice feed from Datsuyk. This was a goal that Marc-Andre Fleury has to save it Pittsburgh still wants to have a chance at winning the Stanley Cup. Cleary was creative however in using defenseman Hal Gill as a screen by shooting the puck between Gill's legs that Fleury picked up late. Fleury was good the rest of the first by saving Franzen on a nice backhander in the period and he also stopped Zetteberg on a nice chance.

Detroit totally dominated the second by scoring 4 goals and tying a NHL record of 3 power play goals in a period in a Stanley Cup Final. Valleteri Fillipula made it 2-0 Wings when he beat Fleury with a backhander that was set up nicely by Marian Hossa. Nick Kronwall made it 3-0 at 6:44 when he cut out from the behind the goal line to out front and beat Fleury with a wrist shot over his glove hand. The second of the power play goals was by Brian Rafalski to make it 4-0. He was set up nicely by Datsyuk and wristed a shot just inside the left post of Fleury. Fleury was screened by the underrated Thomas Holmstrom who is as good as it gets at screening a goaling in the NHL. Henrik Zetterberg beat Fleury with a high wrist shot over the glove to tie the recored. Zetterberg was fed a nice pass by Jiri Hudler that caught Fleury by surprise. This was a totally dominating period by the Wings. I am not a huge fan of Detroit but I do respect how talented and good they are season after season. The Wings outshot Pittsburgh 15-6 in this period. This goal got Marc-Andre Fleury the hook from the game and Matthieu Garon some playing time during the blowout portion of this game.

The third period was just lets get through it without any injuries for either team. It was not too eventful except for the last two minutes when Malkin, Cooke and Talbot all got 10 minutes misconducts at this time. The only Detriot player that received a misconduct was Brett Lebda a seldom used defenseman. The third period shots were 6 each. The Penguins if they want to have any chance at forcing a Game 7 must play much smarter than they did in the second period of Game 5. When you are going up against the Defending Stanley Cup Champions you must not give them any chances with the extra man or try ti limit them to only in dire circumstances, such as a breakaway or a great scoring chance. The Red Wings only have to play the same as Game 5 and they will repeat as Champs. I have a gut feeling that Game 6 will be a much closer game and hopefully more entertaining for all of us NHL fans out there.

So Penguin fans be loud for Game 6. Get behind your team and be as boisterous as the Detroit crowd was for Game 5. I really want to see a Game 7 because there is nothing better in Sports in my humble opinion of a Game 7 of a Stanley Cup Final game. Thank you all for reading this, I really appreciate it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Malkin's 3 Assists Lead Pitt to Game 3 Victory

Malkin's 3 Assists Lead Pittsburgh to Cut Detriot's Series Lead to 2-1

The Pittsburgh Penguins got the start they wanted again and this time it paid off. It was far from easy but the Penguins prevailed 4-2 over the Red Wings to cut Detroit's series lead to 2 games to 1. The Penguins got on the board first when Max Talbot scored from the middle of the circle to make it 1-0 at 4:48 of the first. This was Evegeni Malkin's first assist of his dominating night. Malkin joined WayneeGretzkyy and Mario Lemieux as the only NHL playerss to to get 12 plus goals and 20 plus assists in one NHL postseason. After this goal the Red Wings responded in a big way and controlled most of the first period. Less then 2 minutes after Talbot scored, Henrik Zetteberg between a fallen Fleury to tie the game at 1. Zetteberg is a power playoff performer year after year. He also plays a wonderful two-way game much to the pleasure of Coach Mike Babcock. A little less than 6 minutes later, Johan Franzen scored his 12th playoff goal to give Detroit a 2-1 lead in the game. Franzen was fed a deflected pass from Zetterberg and managed to flip the puck into the top left corner just over Marc-Andre Fleury's blocker. Only gifted goal scorers can put the puck top shelf like that and Franzen has proven to be that type of player. Dan Cleary also took a holding penalty at 14:46 of the first that led to Pittsburgh tying the score. Pitt has a powerful power play and Malkined a nice pass to Chris Letang that he kind of fumbled a bit above the right faceoff circle, he then corralled the puck and let go a slap shot that beat Chris Osgood to the stick side to tie the game at 2. This was a huge goal for Pitt because they could have lost their confidence being down in the first at home to the Wings who were in complete control of the period after Talbots first goal. Detroit outshot the Penguins 12-7 in the period.

The second period was all Detroit when they outshot the Penguins 14-4 and really could have taken control of this game. They did not because Fleury finally showed why he played so well during this playoff season. Fleury made a nice save on Zetteberg just about 2 minutes into the second with his right pad. Another huge moment in the game happened just about a minute later. Mikael Samuelsson had a clean breakaway on Fleury and did have him beat but he hit the right post with his snap shot. This was a huge break for Pitt as they were not generating much offense during this period. After Samuelsson hit the post, Nic Kronwall had another good chance that Fleury stopped. Doc Emerick and Ed Olyczk pointed out that the scoring chances in the period were 5-0 for Detroit. It did feel that they were going to take the lead but Fleury did stand tall.

The third period was a totally different one. Pittsburgh cameo out with guns a blazing when they realized that they really dodged a bullet with their uneven play in the second period. Chris Osgood make his first really good save of the third when Sidney Crosby had a glorious chance from the down near the right faceoff circle. Osgood denied him. If Pitt wants to fully come back and win this Series they need Crosby to start burying some of these chances. Pittsburgh got another break when Jonathan took an interference penalty about 10 minutes into the third period. During this power play, Malkin set up Sergei Gonchar with his 3 assist of the night. Gonchar blasted a shot from inside the blue line that beat Osgood clean to make it 3-2 Penguins. Crosby got the second assist on this goal for his first point of the Series. The Pens continued to carry the play, outshooting Det 10-3 in the third. Osgood was pulled for the extra attacker with about 1:10 left. Once this happened, Max Talbot scored his 2nd goal of the night and 6th of the playoffs into an empty net to make it 4-2.

The Penguins tonight showed why this is not going to be a short series. They overcame adversity and Fleury stepped up his game to give his team a chance to win, even when they were not at their best during the second period. All teams that make it this far have excellent goaltending and tonight it was proven on both sides. I still feel this Series will go at least 6 games and hopefully entertain us big time in the process. Thank you all for reading this, I appreciate it very much so.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Detroit Rolls to a 2-0 Lead in the Stanley Cup Final

Detroit Rolls to a 2-0 Lead in the Final

The Penguins got what they wanted. They scored first and seemed to be in complete control of the game but once the smoke cleared, the Red Wings again took a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Finals, just as they did in 2008. Evegeni Malkin put Pittsburgh up 1-0 with a power play goal 16:50 into the first period. This was a strange period because Detroit took the first 7 shots on net and were in control of the game until about the 10 minute mark. Darren Helm had the first good chance of the game that Marc-Andre Fleury stopped with a nice sliding save. N Kronwall took an ill advised cross-checking penalty to give Pittsburgh the advantage. Malkin took a shot from out just to the left of Osgood that he seemed to stop but it was deflected in past him by Brad Stuart. Pittsburgh had the better of the play for the rest of the period after opening the scoring.

The Penguins had the first really good chance to make it 2-0 but Chris Osgood denied them. Max Talbot set up Maklin for a glorious chance out in front. Osgood thus far in the playoffs is 14-4 with a 1.95 GAA and a save percentage of .930. He has been brilliant in this series so far. He sometimes is unjustly crititized by some (including myself). He has done a great job for the Red Wings last year and this year as well. The Red Wings finally got on the board on a slap shot from the point by Jonathan Ericsson. Helm put a nice screen on Fleury that allowed Ericssons shot to go in. Mikael Samuelson set up Henrik Zetterberg on a nice 2 on 1 but Fleury was up to the challenge and stopped Zettebergs backhander. Detriot took the lead 2-1 when Valterri Fillipula lifted a backhander off of the post over a fallen Fleury. Marian Hossa and Thomas Holmstrom did the dirty work on this goal. Holmstrom is a veteran of the Wings who is very underrated in my opinion. Year after year he is a 20 goal scorer who can always be tough to deal with.

The third period opened with Pittsburgh trying to tie the game when Sidney Crosby came out in front and hit the post to the right of Osgood. This was a turning point in the game because once this happened. The Penguins then sagged at their blue line. Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi let Justin Ablekader, the new hero for Detroit, to let go a long wrist shot from the top of the circle to the right of Fleury, beating him high to the glove hand. This made the score 3-1 and you just could feel with Detroits ability to play defense that this lead would be too much to overcome for the Penguins. Fleury as was pointed out by Ed Olyckz that this shot must be stopped. I agreed, if you want to win the Stanley Cup over a very very strong team like the Defending Champion Red Wings, you must make all the important saves to help your team win. Osgood has done that and thus far in the Finals, Fleury has not.
Pitt did outshoot Det 12-3 in the third period but Det led in the important one the scoreboard.

Tonights Game 3 in Pittsburgh is very important. If the Pens want to even make this a Series, they must win tonight. They will have the loud home crowd behind them. The Pens as has been pointed out by most of the media, must get Sidney Crosby some more ice time to get him going. Dan Bylsma can't worry about matchups now too much as you need to get your best players going to try to beat the powerful Wings. The Wings have scored 6 goals in two games and none of them have come from their superstars in Zetteberg, Datsuyk, Hossa or Lindstrom. If these stars get going the Penguins will be very hard pressed to win this Series. After watching the Penguins dismantle my Hurricanse in the Eastern Conference Finals, I am convinced that they will put up a better fight in tonights all important Game 3.
Thank you for reading this, I really appreciate it very much so.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Osgood Very Good in Game 1 Victory

Osgood Very Good In Red Wings Game 1 Win

The Penguins thought they were a different team than last year. That still may prove to be true but they still had the same result as last year. A Game 1 loss to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings. If the Penguins do not want to have the same fate as last year, I do believe that tonights Game 2 is very important to them. They do not want to fall behind 2-0 to the Red Wings who take advantage of every mistake their opponent seems to make.

The game started pretty well for Pittsburgh as they had the first good chance of the game. As announcers Doc Emerick and Ed Olczyk said the board are very lively at Joe Louis Arena. Hal Gill took a shot that bounced off of the back boards right to Max Talbot. Talbot took a quick shot just inside the right circle that Osgood stopped. The first goal of the game was very fluky in nature and one that Marc-Andre Fleury would want to have back. Brad Stuart took a shot from the left point that deflected off of the back boards and hit the back of Fleury's right pad and went into the net. This gave Det the 1-0 lead they wanted. Just about 5 minutes later Malkin stole a clearing pass from Stuart that he shot on goal that Osgood could not control. He left the rebound out front that Ruslan Fedotenko took the puck away from Osgood who was trying to tie the puck up. He then backhanded it into an open net to tie the game. Fedotenko who won a Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004, is having a very good postseason scoring his 7th goal of the playoffs. Detroit outshot the Penguins 11-7 in the first.

The Penguins came out strong in the second period trying to get the lead. Evgeni Malkin got a clean breakaway about 3 minutes into the second period but Osgood denied him with his glove. Osgood sometimes has a reputation of letting in some soft goals but tonight was clearly on his game. Pitt early in the second really carried the play but Osgood was up to the task. About 10 minutes after his great stop on Malkin, Osgood denied Crosby on a nice spin-o-rama backhander to keep the game tied at 1. As the period wore on, it seemed that Det as they usually do was going get the next goal. Johan Franzen took a shot off off another backboard bounce that he shot in off of Fleury from a really sharp angle. This was another goal the Fleury would like to have had back. The Pens did outshoot the Wings 13-11 in the second but the Wings had the all important lead at 2-1.

In the third period, the next goal in a one goal game is usually very very important. Early in the period the Wings got the all important two goal lead. Justin Abdelkater took a shot that was deflected up in the on a save by Fleury. Jordan Staal who was defending did not know where the puck was but Abdelkater did gloved the puck down and shot the puck into the top left corner over Fleury. The Wings had not played a perfect game by their own admission but did have a 3-1 lead in the third period and with their great ability to play defense, shut down the Pens the rest of the night. Chris Letang had another good chance that Osgood snuffed out to keep the game at 3-1. The Pens had a very difficult time getting any more sustained pressure on Osgood for the last 10 minutes of the game. They did outshoot the Wings 12-8 in the third and 32-30 for the game but Osgood made the Wings lead stand up and to me was clearly the best player for Detroit. The Pens must bring their “A” game if they want to win Game 2 or they will be in jeopardy of going back to Pittsburgh in a 2-0 hole. We all know what happened last year when they lost the first 2 games at the Joe last season. Pitt had a very difficult time recovering and eventually lost in 6 games. Tonights game is critical for both teams and could be very telling on who will win this Series. The Pens are better than last years team but need to show the same tenacity they showed in winning their last 5 games before tonights Game 1 loss. I credit Det playing far from their best game and finding a way to win this game. Thanks for reading this, I really appreciate it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pens Sweep Canes with 4-1 Victory

Pens Sweep Canes with 4-1 Victory

The Pittsburgh Penguins as they have shown throughout this series, were just too much for the Carolina Hurricanes. The Pens earned a return trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they will face either the Detroit Red Wings or the Chicago Blackhawks, with another very good performance in Raleigh, NC tonight. The Pens are a much better team defensively this year than they were last season and will be very difficult to beat in the Final.

The game started out well for Carolina again as it did in Game 3, when Eric Staal scored his first goal of the series on a wraparound. Staal took the puck from behind the goal line, skated behind Fleury and stuffed the puck just inside the left post of Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury otherwise was sensational making 30 saves after Staal scored. Fleury did stop Samsonov on a nice chance in front on a power play. After the game settled down, Pittsburgh took over. Ruslan Fedotenko took a hard pass from Phillpe Boucher just to the right of Cam Ward and redirected it past Ward to make it 1-1. This play took tremendous skill for Fedotenko to direct it past Ward where he basically cut on dime to redirect the shot in. Ward then made what appeared to be a blunder when he missed a blocked shot from Max Talbot that floated over his glove and into the net to make it 2-1 Penguins. Ward said that “I lost it for a moment, bad break fluke goal”. By watching this first period the Pens did seem poised to win this game. They outshot the Canes 9-5 in the first period.

The Canes had a lot more step in their game in the second period. Every shot they had, Fleury had an answer. Eric Staal made a nice rush on a penalty kill where he got around a defender, but Fleury stopped his backhander. Pittsburgh stretched their lead to 3-1 when Antoine Babchuck, who was a healthy scratch for the first 3 games of this series, turned the puck over at his blue line to Sidney Crosby. Crosby then skated down the left wing and fed a perfect pass to the wily veteran Bill Guerin who then shot it past Ward into a partially empty net. Crosby has just been sensational this series and does have 14 goals and 14 assists in 17 games so far in this playoff season. The Canes outshot Pittsburgh 16-10 in the second period but the wonderful work of Fleury kept the game at 3-1.

In the third period the Canes came out with a purpose. Fleury was brilliant in stopping Segei Samsonov on a nice tip just 36 seconds into the third period. Then not even 20 seconds later, Fleury again stopped a nice tip in front by Ray Whitney. Fleury then got a lot of help from Pittsburgh with how good defensively they played the rest of the game. Matt Cullen had another good chance when he cut through the defense but Fleury stopped him with his blocker when he followed Cullen to his right and then sprawled and kept the game at 3-1. Pittsburgh did not attack as much in the 3rd period but then played a wonderful defensive system that Dan Byslma had put in after taking over the coaching duties on February 15, 2009. Pittsburgh finished with an 18-3-4 record under him and has won now 12 games and only lost 5. This Penguins team looks unbeatable right now. To finish the game after Cam Ward was pulled, Craig Adams, the former Hurricane player, deposited the puck into an empty net to make it 4-1.

The Penguins impressed my by showing that they can adapt to any style of game you play. The can win a more defensive oriented type game like tonight or win a shootout like Game 2 was 7-4. Led by Malkin, Crosby, and some of the foot soldiers, Guerin, Rob Scuderi, Kris Letang and Jordan Staal, this team is well rounded and to me looks like they can beat anybody including Detroit. If Fleury plays as well as he did tonight and in Game 1, he will keep Pittsburgh in every game and will possibly lead this team to the Stanley Cup Finals.

To sum up the Hurricanes season, Paul Maurice said it best. “If you looked at the tank of some of our players, you would see the gage on the Empty part.” The exciting and grueling series that they played vs both the NJ Devils and Boston Bruins, seemed to take a lot out of this team. I am very proud of the way this team responded to the hiring of Paul Maurice in December. They were about 21-20-3 when he was hired and they finished with 45-30-8. I was one that thought this was a bad hiring. I was DEAD WRONG. This team showed tremendous character, grit and determination in this playoff season. They also gave me a memorable game that I saw live in Boston for Game 7 when most experts though they had little chance to win on the road. They got the job done and it was very satisfying for me to see it live, thanks to my cool uncle from Chicago. Thank you Canes for a nice postseason run. I hope you add the necessary talent to hopefully go a bit farther next season. Also congratulations to the Penguins, they earned their way by easily disposing of the Canes. Good luck in the next series, which I think has all the makings of a classic, if they play Detroit. I do believe that is what will happen but I hope Chicago makes it very hard on them and pushes them a bit harder tonight as well.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Malkin Has Pens Thinking Sweep

Malkin Leads Pens to Brink of Cup Finals.

Domination. That is what the Pens are doing to the Hurricanes. The Pens are so much more talented than the Bruins and Devils and the Canes are finding out in a rude way. The Pens took a 3-1 lead at the end of the First Period with 2 goals by Malkin and the other by Sidney Crosby. The Pens outshot the Canes 16-8 at the end of the period. The game did start well for Carolina when Matt Cullen took at nice pass from Partick Eaves and beat Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 1-0 Canes. That was the last lead of the night for the Canes. The Penguins got a power play when Patrick Eaves took a dumb slashing penalty. The Canes must be more disciplined on Tuesday Night if they do not want to get swept in this Series. Malkin scored on the power play on a Sidney Crosby setup to make it 1-0. Malkin has been a man possessed in this Series and to me DESERVES to win the Conn Smythe if the Penguins win the Stanley Cup this year. Malkin has 9 points on 6 goals and 3 assists in this series. The game was even for most of the first until the last minute of the period. That is when the Pens struck and really took complete control of this game. Bill Guerin fed a nice pass from the left wing boards that Sidney Crosby deposited into a basically empty net to make it 2-1. 30 seconds later Malkin took the puck from the right wing and cut right out in front to beat Ward to make it 3-1 Penguins. If Ward was not on his game earlier in this period it could have been 5-1 Pens.

The Second Period had no scoring in it but had more Pens domination with them outshooting the Canes 15-8. Ward stopped Max Talbot on two different occasions in this period. Ward was scrambling when the Canes seemed to be fixated on the puck and did not cover the open late guy. This Pens team is so good with puck possession and it really showed tonight. The Canes were able to settle the game down for the second part of the period and did have a couple of good chances. Nick Wallin shot from the right wing on a penalty kill and it deflected off of Fleurys glove and trickled just outside of the right post. Chad Larose also had another good chance that Fleury cut across to stop with his pad. Ward did keep the Canes within striking distance going into the third period. Would they show some fight?

What do you think happened. The Canes did cut the lead to 3-2 when Samsonov scored off of an Eric Cole rebound on Fleury. Samsonov spun away from Craig Adams to put the puck just inside the right post. The Canes did have a nice momentum serge for awhile after this goal and Samsonov did get another chance that he backhanded just wide of Fleury. Fleury did not seem to see the puck on this backhander but was fortunate it did not end up in his net. Malkin then fed the ever gritty Max Talbot from with a pass from behind his own red line to Talbot just at center ice. Talbot had another breakaway for Pitt and was denied by Ward with his right pad. Ward did his job for most of this game even though the final score was very lopsided. You just cant give Pitt tap in type goals or let Malkin come out in front uncontested for shots on net. These are the most talented forwards in the NHL led by Malkin and Crosby. The Canes pressed on for a bit more but the next goal which was the back breakerrr was set up but guess who, Malkin who dropped a nice pass to Ruslan Fedetenko who beat Ward glove side to make it 4-2. The Canes pulled Ward and to add insult to injury, Jussi Jokinen won a face-off so cleanly that it ended up in the empty net to make it 5-2. Just for the gas on the fire, Bill Guerin finished the scoring to make it 6-2 on a backhand goal.

To put it mildly, the Canes are outclassed by this Penguin team that seems to be poised to possibly win a Stanley Cup for the first time since the Mario Lemieux days of 1992. They might even get a rematch of that 92 Series if the Blackhawks win vs Det. I hope so. Yes Chicago has work to do being down 2-1 to Det but they have a young fast talented team and it would be pure fun hockey to see them battle the Pens. I will still root hard for my Canes on Tuesday Night but there is an elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge. Yes the 1975 NY Islanders came back from 3-0 vs the Penguins and the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs did beat the Red Wings when down 0-3 in that Final. But lets be realistic the Canes besides a small part of game 1 and for the first period of game 2, have been so outclassed but this Pens team it is not even funny. I don't care how gritty you are, when you meet your match that is gritty and talented, you have very little chance to win. What also must be said is this Penguins team is not as bad defensively as they were last season. Their improvement in this part of their game bodes well for them in the Finals. They can beat both Det and Chicago if they play a smart disciplined game and Malkin still acts like a man possessed. He beat Mario Lemieux's postseason record of 5 straight multi point games with his sixth tonight. He is truly an awesome talent who is also a great all around player as well. The Canes are gassed. I just hope for one win on Tuesday night for their great fans who have supported them all season long. Thanks for reading. I hope to have at least two more of these entries before the Stanley Cup Finals begin. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it, even though the outcome was not what I wanted. Oh well credit to a great Pens team who deserved to win again tonight in Raleigh.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Malkin Sensational in Pens Game 2 Domination

Malkin is Sensational in Pens Game 2 Victory!

The Pittsburgh Penguins have the most talented forwards in the NHL. Tonight Evgeni Malkin was sensational scoring a hat trick and also had an assist in the Penguins 7-4 victory over the Hurricanes. The Pens now have a commanding 2-0 lead in the Series and if Carolina does not want this to be a short series, they must be better in their own zone. Also they must stop giving up breakaways. Malkin and Crosby were relentless in their pressure of the Canes goal. Malkin had 8 shots on net in this barrage. There is a reason why he led the NHL in scoring this year. He showed it tonight. The Pens put so much pressure on Cam Ward by unleashing 42 shots on him. It was like they had extra players on the ice at times with the pressure that they put on. This team is scary when they get going here.

Carolina got the first good chance of the night but Marc-Andre Fleury stoned Scott Walker. Pitt opened the scoring for Pittsburgh with Sidney Crosby scoring 1:51 in, assisted by Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin. The Canes though answered quickly when Chad Larose banged in a Ray Whitney rebound to tie the score at 1. Ward and Fleury both looked a little shaky in the first period. But Fleury did make a big save on Larose early in the first. Malkin scored his first goal on Tyler Kennedy rebound to make it 2-1 Pens. The Canes did respond by tying the score at 2 when Jussi Jokinen banged in a Scott Walker rebound to tie the game up. Then it seemed the Canes had some momentum when Dennis Seidenberg beat Fleury with a long shot from the point to make it 3-2 Canes. The Pens to their credit played a much better game for the rest of the game, dominating but outshooting the Canes 30-14 over the final two periods.

The Canes actually did start out the second period pretty well but Fleury did settle down and kept the game at 3-2 Canes . Then the Pens got a break when Max Talbot beat Ward with a breakaway. Ward did not have one of his better games tonight but he got very little help from his defense and forwards backchecking. This was the type of game that plays right into the hands of the Penguins. The Canes better tighten up when they go back to the RBC Center on Saturday or this will be a short series. The goal that had the most momentum with it was when Joni Pitkanen was at the end of a shift and could not get the puck out of his own end. Chris Kunitz picked it up and beat Ward high blocker side to make it 4-3 Pitt. This was a very bad goal for Carolina to give up with 7 seconds left in the second period.

The third period had Parick Eaves tie it up for the Canes at 4. He was set up nicely by Ryan Bayda and then Eaves who scored his first goal of the playoffs, beat Fleury with a nice wrist shot high to the glove side. The game then exploded when Malkin scored his 2nd goal of the night and the game winner when he beat Ward on the third rebound of a Chris Kunitz shot. This gave the Pens a 5-4 lead and then Malkin scored one of the prettiest goals you will ever see. He took the puck behind the Canes net cut out to Wards left, with Seindenberg draped all over him, beat Ward with a backhander upstairs when he as not even looking. It was pure magic really. Ward played the percentage by going down but Malkin who to me is Pitt best player came through to make it 6-4. The Canes did not give up and Eric Cole had Fleury beaten on a nice feed in front but Fleury came up with the same. A little bit later on, Whitney rang one off of the crossbar and you just knew it was not meant to be for the Canes tonight. Tyler Kennedy finished the scoring with an empty net goal to make it 7-4.

The Penguins are simply a better team. There is no hiding it. Losing Tuomo Ruutu has also hurt the Canes anemic power play which was 0 for 3 tonight. They had a key one in the second period and were afraid to shoot the puck. If I were Paul Maurice and Ronnie Francis, I would press upon them when on the power play, shoot the puck and crash Fleury. He does give up rebounds. The Pens are going to be very hard to beat in this Series but I do feel confident that the Canes will give them a very tough fight and hopefully push the Series to at least 5 games or even 6. There is a reason why the Pens were in the Stanley Cup Finals last year. I also believe that fatigue is starting to set in for the Canes, who have played back to back 7 game series. They have shown tremendous heart in this postseason and exceeded most “experts” expectations. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing this, even though my Canes let me down with the putrid effort in the third period.