Always fun to watch a rivalry game--in one of the most ambiguously sexual phrases in hockey vernacular, no one seems to have a problem "getting up" for them, do they?
There was a lot of back-tracking and ass-covering yesterday afternoon about how this game didn't really count, because Crosby was out, and possibly Malkin was out, and was it really anything like playing them at their best, did it really matter? This sounded like padding the landing for in case we lost, but you can't fool me, press clips. Penguins are Penguins. It doesn't matter what the roster looked like, this is not a rivalry about one player. Put us in Pittsburgh, you've got a game on your hands.
Anyway, it ended up that Malkin was in, and Fleury was out. Surprise! Somebody needs to diagram this flu that's going through the league somehow. Use color coding.
I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that the first period was the worst thing ever, ever, ever. Whoever is responsible for teaching the boys that there are only two periods in a hockey game, I am mad at you, please amend this right away.
So the first twenty minutes of the game mostly consisted of some ridiculous fooling around by the Caps, while the Pens skated circles around them and Vokoun looked like the wall in Pong. Once again, there was a goal on the first shot. Miles better performance from Vokoun overall last night but I think we just need to prevent him getting shot on in the first three minutes, if that's all right with everyone. Seems to not work out so well.
Boooo, James Neal. And Geno with a gorgeous pass reminding us that he is, in fact, playing tonight. That's Evgeni Malkin, press corps. M-a-l-k-i-n.
More attack by the Penguins. We are losing every battle for the puck with everybody, handing out turnovers like it's a bake sale. Wideman's getting bounced around like a pinball, so is Johansson--there's a lot of times when you can forget he's a little smaller. This is not one of them.
Couple of unbelievable chances by Pittsburgh that I can't believe don't go in. Mike Knuble, Penguin Killer, makes his presence known by nailing somebody to the boards.
And a minute or so later, with a great scoring chance only rescued by a flashy glove save from Johnson. Glove saves are awesome, so I am appropriately impressed. But Knuble is clearly out for blood. Watch out, Pens.
Malkin wraps around the back of the net at approximately the speed of light and for a moment it's terrifying, but Vokoun is there. We get it back in their zone for .5 seconds and then it's out again. Lord preserve me. Get us to intermission alive.
But nope, not that easy. Alzner shoots the puck over the glass and we go on the kill, which we would get very familiar with by the end of the night, but right now it doesn't seem like a disaster. Our PK's looking good so far this season and this one looks spectacular, we're not letting them get settled into anything. Malkin makes about 3/4 of a beautiful play and gets taken to the ice. Hamrlik is blocking most, if not all of the shots in the entire world.
Seriously, thanks for that, Habs.
Penalty over. Some more things happen but few of them are good. We're able to get it deep briefly but the moment we start to pick up some momentum, we take another penalty. Go. Figure. I see the replay and I am not convinced. That was a love tap. Refs, I've got my eyes on you.
Couple of scary shots, some of them saved by Vokoun, some saved by the Penguins inability to aim for the net. The kill is less pretty, but dead is dead. Unfortunately, when the penalty ends, we're still totally incapable of getting it out of our end. At this point, the shots are 11-3 in favor of the Penguins.
HEY CAPS. DID YOU KNOW THAT THERE IS A WHOLE OTHER END AVAILABLE FOR PLAY?
The boys are trying to hit and create chances, but for several straight minutes are missing every intended target. Invisible rugs are being pulled. We are doing all we can just to knock pucks off their sticks. 12-3.
Intermission, we are so happy to see you. Thank you for coming.
Second period, hereinafter known as "We Have Suddenly Realized There Is A Hockey Game On."
Of course first, we start it off with some more great chances from the Pens and impossible saves from Vokoun.
My friend Adrianna:
"TO THE LEFT TO THE LEFT
all the haters in a box to the left
tape that box up
and send it to the North Pole."
My friend Alexis:
"....why the left?"
Regardless, we've finally got something going--we're driving to the net, especially Mike Knuble, who is the patron saint of net-crashing and scoring against the Penguins.
And he delivers.
12 game scoring streak against the Pens? I believe you mean 13.
Weird goal kinda, weird bounce, but what the hell, the universe owes us a couple of those. The announcers are convinced it went under the net when it was rocked off its moorings. Not so! Tie game.
Now here's some signs of life, all of the sudden there's some energy in our play, we're making things happen. Nice shot from Mr. Sniper, Jason Chimera that doesn't go in. Too bad, it's fun and weird seeing him on the league-leaders board.
5000 chances all at once. We are living in the blue paint and we can't be evicted. Great chance for Semin, saved. Great chance for Kennedy on our own goal. End to end to end to end. Now this is Pens/Caps hockey.
Laich gets in Malkin's face, takes a couple unnecessary shots at him. This is funny until he takes a penalty for it.
Great effort on the PK from Halpern, until he loses an edge and ends up in the Penguins net, and I mean in the Penguins net, Johnson caught a Halpern. Why there are no pictures of this, I will never understand. Still, we're in pretty good control of it, our penalty kill is saving our life. Chimera is on fire and wants nothing more than to fuck up some Penguins.
Trying to clear the puck again after the penalty's over, Alzner gets stuck in the corner with about fifteen Penguins, and keeps it away from them by standing on the puck. Is there a rule against that? Apparently not. Hockey play.
We go to the third period, and once again we are temporarily seized with The Fire--the one-timers we're getting are nuts, but unfortunately we are shooting them all right into Johnson's chest. Pens end is a shooting gallery. I want another goal.
Ovechkin takes a hard shot and it looks like it goes in. I mean it really looks like it goes in, but the goal light doesn't go on, and the players are all racing in the other direction already. What? In what universe is that not a goal?
Tonight's referees, who are maybe not the quickest refs in all of the league, take about a good thirty seconds to realize that hey, there was a goal there. They stop play to investigate this suspicion. It only takes one overhead replay for me to go from "pretty sure" to "REALLY FUCKING SURE, OH MY GOD THAT'S A GOAL". That's in. That is the most In goal that has ever been scored. Went in like a laser, bounced of one of the posts somehow, and back out again.
Toronto agrees! Goal Ovechkin. That's right, bitches. He's not on the ice as a showpiece. He still scores goals.
Pens fans are not happy. There's some kind of awful noise in the Consol Center and I think it's overratedness.
Keep booing him. He likes it.
Then comes a really ugly sequence on which a lot has been written already. Asham challenges Beagle to fight, because of a cross-check he didn't like on Letang--which was the result of a cross check from Letang on Beagle a few minutes ago. Refs, do your job.
Beagle accepts, because Beagle doesn't back down from anyone. This is worrying. Here we have a guy who has eighty-three NHL fights to his name against a guy in his first full NHL season, in his first-ever NHL regular season fight. It goes as you might expect it to. Beagle takes a few to the face and he is down for the count.
There's a lot of blood and it's frankly terrifying.
In the aftermath, Asham is not a graceful winner, to say the least. He's apologized for this already but I am not sure that I forgive him just yet. Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt, I believe him as far as that goes--but especially when there's a bitter fighting debate going on right now about basically these exact ugly consequences, that's not the way to behave.
I don't know. I have nothing new to say here. I can direct you to some smart people who do, if you'd like.
Carlson and Alzner are there for their teammate both when he's down and later, on Twitter, and it's great to see. Asham with a respectful stick tap when Beagle gets up, good gesture. I would still like to see Hendricks rain down the fists of justice at some point, if that is okay with everyone.
Beagle and Asham get matching majors, but Beagle gets an extra two minutes, because apparently the instigator penalty still applies even when you're pulling your own teeth out of your mouth. Ovechkin is in the box, because Beagle is getting his face fixed. This is fine, Ovechkin doesn't PK.
The team is pissed. Vokoun holds strong. 28-16 shots, Penguins. We really need to stop taking penalties, I get the feeling that might help.
Everyone's wound up, we have trouble settling down for a few minutes. Everyone wants to destroy Asham, but we have more important things to do. Like winning.
Unfortunately before we can get our heads straight again, stupid James Neal scores again.
I hate everything.
Overtime? Why not? We cut our teeth on overtime. Pens have no idea what they're in for.
Some intense four-on-four play at first, both teams get their chances and nobody scores. Vokoun is a goalie black hole, swallowing pucks with no rebounds. Jordan Staal decides to get bitchy with his stick and we get our first power play of the game.
What the hell. If we're only going to get one all game, I'll take it now.
It doesn't last that long. Professional Creator of Beautiful Passes, Nicklas Backstrom, creates a beautiful chance for Wideman.
Look at this beautiful game-winning man. He looks like he's roaring.
All we do is win.
So we're 3-0-0, not bad to start the season. If we could just stop handing out loser points like they're party favors, that would be cool, but I'll take it. Suck it, Penguins. Congratulations on winning a fight, but not the actual game. All our thoughts to Jay Beagle, hope he doesn't have a concussion, hope his visit to the dentist's office is not too unpleasant. The best revenge is winning.
Sens Saturday. I don't want to count my chickens but...Sens Saturday. "Undefeated" is a nice word and I like it, even when we're only three games in. Win them all.
Let's go Caps.