Another night of Pittsburgh sports on the TV with both the Penguins and the Pirates playing at the same time. This is really starting to get to me as I want to watch the Penguins for a huge game, but I also want to watch the Bucs and see how they continue to develop during the early part of the year (not like I won’t watch them all year, but I am just saying). It was exciting and frustrating all the same time but still a nice night for Pittsburgh sports.
Penguins 4, Islanders 3 (SO)
The Penguins keep their end of the bargain in their race for the Atlantic division title by downing the Islanders on Long Island. A large number of Penguins fans were in attendance tonight and it was pretty noticeable when the Islander fans were booing for some unknown reason or if the Islander announcers were drowning the people in front of them with tears.
The game actually started off pretty chippy with a few fights but the officials actually did a pretty nice job of getting the order restored and keeping it at bay by sending almost all the participants to the lockerrooms with misconducts after the fights. I have no idea how guys like Gillies and Haley have jobs in the NHL. When people wonder why the Islanders suck it is because guys like that come up to play in real hockey games. That and Garth Snow being your GM. What a joke.
The Penguins jumped out early on goals by Mike Rupp and Zbynek Michalek (ON A POWER PLAY GOAL!!!!! THEY DO EXSIST) and it really looked like the Penguins were going to roll in this one. I thought they played pretty well, especially after the goal by Z, but for some reason the Islanders stuck around.
Blake Comeau scored back to back goals to tie it up. The first was a pretty nice goal as he pretty much chipped it over MAF’s shoulders with around five minutes left in the second period. After that the Islanders were buzzing and to be quite honest the Penguins were pretty lucky that they didn’t go into the intermission tied.
Comeau’s second goal came on the power play after John Taveres dove for the second time to get a penalty. So if my logic is right from people around the country and especially from Long Island, that if they ever complained about Sidney Crosby diving then they are automatically hypocrites because Taveres is way worse than anything Bing has ever done or may ever do.
Letestu came back and tied it and then Travis Hamonic scored with 30 some odd seconds left. Blah. Kunitz won it with a shootout goal. Suck it New York.
The win puts the Penguins at 104 points, the same as the Flyers, with the Flyers holding the tie breaker, which is regulation + overtime wins. Evidently ESPN has no idea what is going on with hockey:
It is going to be nice for Penguins fans because the Flyers play the Islanders tomorrow while the Penguins don’t play until Sunday. If the Flyers get two points they will win the Atlantic no matter what. The Penguins have already clichéd home ice advantage and will either play Tampa Bay, Montreal or Buffalo.
Overall the game wasn’t bad tonight. I really didn’t think a whole lot was going to happen and after the two early fight it was pretty much that. Was it ideal that the Penguins gave up a two goal lead and a late lead? No, but that is whatever. A win is a win and I will take the two points any way I can get them. I thought the Penguins were very tired and didn’t play very well in the last few minutes of the game and they didn’t play well in any of the overtime, but they did enough to get a win.
Big Z is going to be relied on for a lot of the playoffs. Dude played over 31 minutes tonight and his partner, Paul Martin, played over 28 minutes. With the playoffs coming the third defensive pairing isn’t going to play as much as they did in the regular season which means that other defenders are going to have to make up the minutes. I thought Z was very good tonight and he even contributed on the offensive end, which was nice.
Pirates 4, Rockies 3 (14)
The Pirates game started off pretty poorly for the Pirates. In the first inning they were instantly down 3-0 as Jason Giambi went deep off Ross Ohlendorf. If you had any idea that Jason Giambi was still in major league baseball then you are really kidding yourself. If you even thought he was alive you are partially kidding yourself.
Ohlendorf left the game in the third inning with some right shoulder discomfort so the pen was going to be stressed big time tonight. Enter Jeff Karstens. 3.1 innings pitched, two hits, no runs and five strikeouts. I talked about Karstens in my preseason preview as a nice guy to have in the pen and tonight showed why. Dorf left with an arm problem and Karstens was there to pick up the slack and really give the team what it needed, a chance to win.
The rest of the pen was really good for the rest of the game too as Crotta, Veras, Hanrahan, Resop and Olson all came in to give the Pirates scoreless innings. The most impressive of the group was Resop’s outing where he got out of a HUGE jam in the 10th inning. After a leadoff double Resop threw a wild pitch to move the runner to third, with no outs. Resop battled back tough and got some big outs with the double being the only hit of the inning. That was just the first of three scoreless innings by Resop in extra innings. Can’t really put into words what he work was worth. It wasn’t always pretty but he did a hell of a job by extending the game when the offense couldn’t get going. Nice job by that group of pen guys to let the Pirates get back into it.
Olson came in and pitched three perfect innings and got out of his fair share of jams also. The highlight was the top of the 14th inning when he got runners on first and second with no outs and managed to get out of it. The inning was made possible thanks to a Ronny Cedeno error and a botched bunt defense, but somehow the Pirates got out of it.
No idea what got into the staff tonight but they struck out a ton of batters. Off hand I don’t really know if Colorado is a team that strikes out a lot, but the Pirates pitchers got them swinging 15 times tonight. Not bad for a staff that doesn’t really have a strikeout pitcher other than Hanrahan that pitched tonight.
The Pirates didn’t get a ton of hits on the night but they were able to scratch across runs in each of the 4th, 5th and 6th innings to tie the ball game. Jose Tabata homered (!!!!) to centerfield to show off some of his rare power that he has and catcher Jason Jaramillo drove in a run with two outs in the sixth inning. I don’t know about you guys but the Pirates have had a good bit of clutch two outs hits. Really nice to see that the Pirates are able to come through with two outs rather than turtle and give up like it seems they have done in the past.
During the 14th inning there was a pretty ballsy decision by Clint Hurdle to walk Troy Tulowitzki to load the bases with two outs in order to force Todd Helton to hit (who was a late scratch due to an injury) and force the Rockies to use their last pen guy. Since it worked I guess it was the right call. Right? Actually as soon as it was rolled out there I thought it was a bad idea, but the more I thought about it I was ok with it. Helton was obviously no healthy after being taken out of the starting lineup before the game and he therefore forced the Rockies to use their last relief guy. I guess Clint might have thought he was bluffing and Jim Tracey wasn’t. Who knows.
Jose Tabata finally ended it all with an RBI double (single?) to score Josh Rodriguez from first base with two outs on a 3-1 pitch in the top of the Clemente wall. What was weird was that Scott Olson was scheduled to hit next with no more bench players. Jim Tracey decided not to walk Tabata and it proved costly.
To be honest I could go on and try to describe this game with some more analysis, but you can’t really do that with something like this. This was an unreal game where the Pirates got out of a bunch of jams late and both teams made some terrible, terrible, plays in order to keep the other team in the game. Luckily the Pirates came though. The pen was nuts going 11.1 scoreless innings. Unreal. It is late. I am going to bed. Wow.