Friday, January 30, 2015

Time to De-Horn the Devils

By: MF,

Another night and another team for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins have a jammed packed schedule ahead before the playoffs and every game counts. Tonight the Penguins visit the New Jersey Devils and they need a win to snap out of their current funk. Two nights ago, they suffered a loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals. A good note out of that horrible loss was defenseman Robert Bortuzzo appeared in his 100th career National Hockey League (NHL) game on Wednesday. Also during Wednesday game, Maxim Lapierre became the 34th skater to dress for the Penguins, which I don't necessarily count as a good thing.

Now let's move on to tonight's contest against the Devils. The Penguins come into this game with a 18-3-1 record when they score a power play, so special teams will be essential. The last few games, Chris Kunitz has not been put on the top power play unit. I think this is a mistake. Kunitz makes his presence known in front during a power play situation and is a agitate a goaltender. I think this is the main reason the power play has been lack luster lately, aside from missing superstar Evgeni Malkin. Back to the team stats, the Penguins also come into this contest out-shooting their opponents in eight of their last ten games. However, Wednesday's game would prove otherwise. Hopefully tonight will be different.

Moving onto the offensive power of the Penguins, which will have to bring it tonight. Kunitz currently has a five point (one goal and four assists) streak against the Devils, this goes back to November 16, 2013. While Sidney Crosby has three goals, is a plus-two, and has a 62.7% faceoff percentage when he faces the Devils. In addition, Crosby has a points-per-game average of 1.16, which ties him with Philadelphia Flyers' Jakub Voracek for first in the NHL.

While on defense, Kris Letang is making January his month. Letang has notched 14 points (one goal and 13 assists), which puts him first among the Penguins and fourth in the NHL during this month. He was ranked eleventh in the NHL in scoring among defensemen before January and has jumped to third since then.

The Penguins have suffered another injury as Christian Ehrhoff was the only one missing during the morning skate. Mike Johnston commented on the situation, saying Ehrhoff had traveled back to Pittsburgh. Since hitting his head on the ice during Wednesday's game, the doctors want to follow protocol and be safe. An update will be provided tomorrow. This means that Scott Harrington will be stepping in for the injured Ehrhoff. Also, Beau Bennett will be a healthy scratch and Mark Arcobello will fill in for him. Johnston talked about how lineups will be changing due to having 13 available forwards and decisions have to be made.

The team hasn't been on the winning side of the last few games lately and need a win to get things back on track. That starts with the Devils. Lets Go Pens!

The Pens lineup is as follows:

Kunitz, Crosby, Perron 
Spaling, Sutter, Hornqvist
Arcobello, Lapierre, Downie
Sill, Ebbett, Adams

Despres, Letang
Scuderi, Martin
Harrington, Bortuzzo 

Fleury in the net!

Play By Play
PENS 2 Devils 1 OT


2:21- DESPRES SCORES! Letang passes over to Despres who fires a rocket shot from the blue line and it blows past the glove of Schneider! 2-1 Pens!

2:50- Despres sets up Sutter is denied.

3:30- Crosby tries to stick handle past the Devils. Four swarm him and get the puck as a result.

5:00- Five minutes of extra hockey! The Pens need to keep putting shots on net! Lets Go Pens!

3rd Period
0:00- Regulation wasn't enough and this game is headed to overtime.

2:20- Fleury denies Jagr right in front!

2:27- Like I talked about earlier...Kunitz on the first power play unit pays off.

3:11- KUNITZ SCORES ON THE POWER PLAY! Letang goes to Crosby and he fires! Kunitz finds the rebound in front and buries it! 1-1 tie game on Pens 38th shot!

3:29- Harrold goes for high sticking and a huge power play chance for the Pens!

6:40- Letang fires a rocket shot and it rings off the goal post!

8:34- The Pens are doing a great job of not letting the Devils past the neutral zone, which is why they only have 10 shots on net.

10:29- Perron feeds a perfect pass to Crosby who directs the puck on net, but Schneider slides across to make the save!

13:52- Bernier Scores. Bortuzzo turns over the puck to Bernier. He carries the puck around the back of the net and stuffs one home. Devils open up the scoring 1-0.

16:32- Ebbett and Adams get a 2 on 1 chance. Ebbett holds and fires the shot, which Schneider saves. I don't think Ebbett was award of Adams during that situation.

16:59- Sid attempts a wrap around chance, but Schneider answers with a save.

17:51- Zubrus and Letang are released and things are back to normal for both teams.

18:27- Despres clears the puck out of the blue paint with a wide open net behind him. Unreal and way to close for comfort.

18:56- Kunitz just fires a rebound chance wide of the net!

20:00- Alright time for some exciting hockey...I hope! 4 on 4 for 1:57 to start the third! Come on Pens! Lets Go Pens!

2nd Period
0:00- The second period horn jolts everyone awake! Two periods down and one to go. We are still scoreless.

0:03- Zubrus and Letang exchange some words and blows. Both to the box, so 4 on 4 hockey.

1:35- The Pens need to put more pucks on net and stop looking for a perfect play.

3:00- Not the most exciting game, so there is not much to update on. Just back and forth hockey.

6:01- Crosby is flying tonight and so is the entire Crosby line.

9:20- Zubrus is set free and Pens power play ends.

10:50- The Pens cycle the puck around, making everyone dizzy. They crash Schneider's doorstep, but the puck somehow stays out!

11:20- Another power play chance for the Pens as Zubrus takes a seat for holding.

12:47- Elias' shot is saved by Fleury. Solid night for the netminder, so far, looks focused and engaged.

13:20- The Devils have only gotten five shots this period, the Pens have been suppressing the Devils.

16:04- Crosby's line creates some great chances, but Schneider holds down the fort. Only a matter of time till they put one in.

18:23- Perron feeds the puck to Crosby, flying down the center, but the pass bounces off his stick.

20:00- Second period is underway! Time for a goal by the Pens! Lets Go Pens!

1st Period
0:00- First period ends and we are scoreless.

1:15- The Pens are having some trouble entering and setting up in the Devils' zone, as the period comes to an end.

3:53- That is all for the Pens power play. They had some chances, but Schneider made the saves.

5:53- Now it's the Pens turn on the power play. Fraser to the box for interference.

6:27- Sutter gets the puck and a step towards a breakaway chance. Schneider stands to make the save!

8:41- The Pens are getting to pucks first and winning battles. They look like a totally different team from the one that played Wednesday night.

11:27- The Pens are made whole again and come up with a massive penalty kill.

12:13- Fleury flashes the glove on Zidlicky's shot!

12:27- Martin comes up with a huge block on Jagr's shot up front.

13:21- Downie is headed to the box for roughing and Lapierre for hooking. 5 on 3 power play for the Devils. Huge kill ahead for the Pens.

15:44- The Pens are crashing the Devils net big time and getting good shots on net.

17:58- Crosby gets a chance on the doorstep. Good start for the Penguins and they have some great jump to their game.

20:00- Puck drop and this game is on! The Pens have to get the win...big time! Lets Go Pens!

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