Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Penguins Game 63 Recap - Penguins 4, Stars 3 (SO)

For the most part this was a playoff type game between two teams that are fighting for playoff position. The Stars are hanging on to the eighth spot in the West and the Penguins were fourth coming into the game and this was an outstanding hockey game to watch.

The Penguins played a really bad first period of hockey. They looked like they had dead legs and really couldn’t get anything going. For the most part the Stars carried play and the Penguins couldn’t get any flow going. They got two power plays in the period and they couldn’t get anything done with them. It just wasn’t a good period and you could see they were rusty from being off since Sunday.

Nonetheless the Penguins were able to get through the period even thanks to a sick goal from Steve Sullivan off an outstanding pass from Pascal Dupuis.

A bad period is one thing but losing one of the most important players on the team to a possible concussion like the Penguins might have to deal with thanks to an Eric Nystrom hit on Kris Letang:

This is a tough one to really look at in my opinion. While I think that Nystrom could have avoided the hit you have to acknowledge that Letang, by reaching for the puck, put himself in a pretty vulnerable position. I also see that Nystrom made no attempt to play the puck (which he doesn’t have to) to hit Letang and the principle contact was to the head. It was a really weird hit to watch in real time but as you watch it again it just doesn’t look good for Letang. He has had a concussion already this season and when he was down on the ice he was holding his head. I think if he came back this season I would be pretty excited although we don’t know what the severity of it was.

I do not think that Nystrom will get a suspension. Sure, he did hit Kris Letang in a vulnerable position but in some respect Letang put himself in that position by reaching for the puck. The thing that might save Nystrom from the suspension is that he didn’t get his elbow up when he hit Letang but the thing that gets me is that he goes out of his way to get Letang after he tries to chip the puck and pretty much the only contact was with the head. Now I don’t think it was as dirty as a lot of people think but I do think that it could have been more body.

All things told I do think this is the kind of things the NHL wants out of the game. Head shots on defenseless players is something that nobody wants to see and until the NHL actually addresses the head shot rules this stuff will continue to happen.

The Penguins came out for the second with much more energy but couldn’t find the back of the net. The Stars did and it was 2-1. To be honest after the intermission I thought the best the Penguins could hope for was to hold the fort in the third period and try to sneak another one in to get a point. Ha.

The Penguins came out of the third period like gang busters. They tied the game 3:33 into the period and then took the lead less than a minute later. What a opening to the third. They were all over the place. Dallas came back and tied the game with just 12:30 minutes to go and from then on it went to overtime. What an overtime period.

The Stars got a power play that started for the last 14 seconds of regulation and then rolled over into the overtime period. What a balls out effort by the penalty kill. The Stars were putting on some big time pressure and the PK never budged. They have conquered almost everything that has come at them and they are killing penalties at almost a 90% clip for the season. They don’t get enough credit.

Huge shootout goals to win it and get the two points.

Marc Andre Fleury gave up three goals but he stole the show in the third period. He made some outstanding saves and really kept the Penguins in the game. People always look at goaltenders by how many goals they give up and for most if you see a goaltender gives up three you think he had an OK game. Fleury was voted the number three star by the Dallas media after the game. He was pretty good. He gives the team a chance to win the game. Did he give up some goals, yea, but who cares. He made the timely saves and the big saves to give his team the win. What an effort.

You know who else had an outstanding effort tonight? The defense. With Kris Letang out a vast majority of the game it put the onus on the other five defensive players to make up with 25 minutes. It was really a ballsy effort by those five guys to play good solid defense when most of them had to double shift on and off. They all played some pretty good hockey tonight and that is what you need when you lose one of your six defenseman, especially one of Letang’s caliber.

Since coming back from his injury Jordan Staal has been playing on another level. He might be playing some of the best hockey of his career since coming off the knee injury. He already has 21 goals and he has only played in 42 games this season. Couple that with his stellar defensive play and what he has done for the penalty kill. There are still people who think they should trade this kid. He has been such an asset to this team.

Secondary scoring stepped up today. Goals by Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz and Steve Sullivan won this game. The top line was realitively held in check but the Penguins were still able to go on the road and beat a Stars team that was 18-12-2 at home. A pretty strong home hockey team and the third period/overtime of this game was playoff caliber. Great win.

Colorado on Saturday night.

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