The script is all too familiar for Pittsburgh fans. Their beloved team opens the game with guns blazing, firing on all cylinders, the offense charges to a lead.
As the game wears on, the uneasiness sets in. First, the other team recovers from the early staggering blows, and then they chip away at the surmountable lead. Next, all of the sudden, without much fanfare or explosives, the opponent takes the lead.
At this point, the offense has gone in to a self-confidence induced nap and can’t turn it back on to regain control of the contest. Alas, the black and gold settle for frowns on the way to the locker room.
This template doomed the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers many times this season, blowing fourth-quarter leads in five gut-pumping head-scratchers.
It happened to the Penguins Sunday afternoon. Goals by Tyler Kennedy – it is about time – and Sidney Crosby put the visiting Stanley Cup champions in front “comfortably” against the Florida Panthers, a squad they had beaten three times by a 3-2 margin already this season.
But today the outcome was different. Radek Dvorak was blown up twice by Brooks Orpik, yet responded with his third career hat trick. Despite 50 shots, the Pens couldn’t muster another goal against Tomas Vokoun.
Too bad they are playing like bunk because with the NFL season ending today, our full attention will be on the Penguins until August. (notice I have completely omitted the professional baseball season.)
Panthers 6, Penguins 2
Media’s Three Stars – Dvorak, Horton, Campbell
Labyrinth’s Three Stars – Dvorak, Who, Cares
Blew A Tire – Geno. A miserable -4. Somehow he was not credited with a giveaway but his turnover deep in the defensive zone set up the Panthers for an easy equalizer. When will the defending scoring champion awake from his nightmare? He is completely out of it.
The Week Ahead… The Pens hope to get well and snap their five-game losing streak when they return to Mellon Arena for a Tuesday night contest against Colby Armstrong’s Atlanta Thrashers. Pittsburgh hosts Philly on Thursday night before traveling to Toronto Saturday night.