Friday, November 27, 2009

Isles Give a Solid 60 Minute Effort and Beat Pens 3-2

Call it the Thanksgiving Day hangover or an afternoon game, or blame it on dinner at Billy Guerin's house last night. But do not call it a good effort. At least from the Pens side. The Isles came to play hard, sound, smart hockey for 60 minutes. Something they've failed to do against the Pens the past season and a half. All 4 lines were contributing with physical play and disrupting the flow of the game from the Pens.

It isn't often the Pens are outshot in a game, but the Isles mustered 37 shots on backup Johnson to the Pens 22. Not good enough. The Pens did have some good shifts, but they couldn't establish momentum. It was especially hard for the Dmen to move the puck out of their own zone. The puck was bouncing off sticks, guys were falling, etc. Geno's 1st goal which tied it at 1 was lucky. Somehow the puck had eyes and snuck in through Roloson. Give credit to Geno for getting it on net.

Cooke scored the 2nd goal and gave the Pens a 2-1 lead. Staal originally shot it and a huge rebound came right to Cooke who shot it into the empty net. Yes the Pens were up 2-1 but they weren't dictating play, outshooting the Isles, or playing their game. They seemed to be playing Devils hockey only their wasn't any "Trap." The Isles had no problem crossing the blue line and cycling down low. Near the end of the 2nd period, the Pens had a 5 on 3 for a minute, and 5 minutes of PP time, result: no goal. They couldn't generate anything, and it seemed to actually take away from any momentum the Pens had.

The Pens were 11-1 when leading after 2 periods, unsurprisingly that all changed. Bergenheim fired a nice wrister past Johnson to tie the game at 2 and Tavares put in a rebound to make it 3-2 late in the 3rd. The Isles were 0 for 3 on the PP while the Pens were 0 for 5. No one on the Pens looked interested in this game. There was a lot of sleepy, sloppy and effortless play. They had chances but even when they were up 2-1 it was a matter of luck and not because they were outplaying the Isles.

As good as Tavares is I thought Okposo was tremendous tonight. He's a big strong kid so it's hard to knock him off the puck, plus he's got some soft hands. Think Rick Nash but smaller. Roloson didn't give the Pens many rebounds and it helps when you don't face many shots either. Johnson was solid again tonight for the Penguinos (Spanish) but the defense provided little to no help. On Tavares's goal both Tavares and Moulson were standing right next to Fleury while Engelland and Eaton were fishing 5 ft away.

A couple positives: Nice to see Engelland drop the mits tonight against Jackman. We haven't had many Dmen over the years who like to fight and nice to see Staal standup for Skoula after he was hit from behind. The Pens rarely get beat at their own game but these things happen. You respond by refocusing and getting ready for the next game: tomorrow night against the Rangers. They are currently getting crushed by the Lightning in Tampa so we'll see a couple desperate hockey clubs manana (Spanish again) at the Igloo.


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