You have to give ...","articleSection":"Penguins News","author":{"@type":"Person","name":"IronCity","url":"https://penslabyrinth.com/author/ironcity/"}}

The Captain Saves The Day…Literally

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You have to give it to him…Sidney Crosby interjects himself into the hero role in so many ways.  With his team and mighty fandom dejected following a soft goal just 18 seconds into the must-win game two, the Captain powered home a rebound to knot the score.

In the third period, with all of Pittsburgh clenching its backside, Crosby flipped away what would have been another softie that was eeking behind Marc-Andre Fleury.  Finally, with just more than four minutes remaining on the regulation clock, the young superstar danced back and forth behind the net and dished the game-winning assist to d-man Kris Letang whose floater gave the defending Stanley Cup Champs a 2-1 victory and evened the series at 1-1.

The sound of the horn signifying the end of the game was met just as loudly by a collective sigh of relief from Penguin nation.

Dan Bylsma set the tone for what proved to be a highly-intense, physical battle by dressing rough-and-tumble Mike Rupp and sitting weak-and-humble Ruslan Fedotenko.  The Sens entered game two missing another regular, as Milan Michalek’s season-ending injury put him in the press box alongside Alex Kovalev and Filip Kuba.

The visitors should no sign of missing the trio when Peter Regin continued his surprising stellar series by ripping a shot high over Fleury’s glove and into the twine just 18 seconds into the contest.  It was the quickest playoff goal scored in Senators’ history.  I had a feeling at the time that Fleury would either post a shutout from that point on or the floodgates would be opened. Thank goodness it was the former.

Later in the first, Crosby slipped by a phantom back-check from Jason Spezza and powered home a rebound off a Chris Kunitz shot to breathe life into the Igloo’s white-out.

The first period turned somber when big Andy Sutton, who joined Ottawa late in the season from the New York Islanders, knocked Jordan Leopold out cold with a vicious elbow to the skull.  No penalty was called, and perhaps it was a legal hit, but this type of head shot is exactly what the NHL is attempting to outlaw.  Thankfully, Leopold awoke and was able to leave the ice under his own power.  He did not return to the contest however. It was the second time this season Sutton crushed a Penguin. Playing for the Islanders, Sutton smushed Pascal Dupuis into the boards, opening his forehead and bloodying the ice. Sutton was suspended two games after that cheapshot.

From that point on, the Penguins played with a passion that will hopefully carry through the rest of the playoffs.  Gone was the lackadaisical nature of their second-half swoon, instead the team was finishing checks and playing with anger.

The second period was a snoozer, highlighted by a couple failed power plays.  However, the table was set for an exciting final stanza.

Jordan Staal and his line had its best shift of the game five minutes in to the third but couldn’t score.  Staal won a face-off in the offensive zone, dished a pass to Matt Cooke who pushed it toward the goal, and then Staal had another opportunity to stuff it home.  Alas, the game remained tied 1-1.

With 9:12 left, Crosby made the defensive play of the game.  Ottawa fired a shot from mid-range that seeped through Fleury and, despite losing speed on its way to the promised land, would have given the Sens a one-goal advantage had #87 not swept in and lifted the puck out of danger.

Five minutes later, Crosby took possession of the puck, danced-and-dangled behind Ottawa netminder Brian Elliott, making the youngster’s head spin.  The dizziness paid off when Crosby saucered a pass from his knees to Letang who lofted a wrister into the upper glove-side corner to capture the come-from-behind win and equal the series heading back to Ottawa Sunday night.

The Pens were fortunate, but did deserve the triumph.  Going forward, I worry about their inability to get the puck on net consistently and the fact that very little offense is generated from non-centers.  If it isn’t Crosby, Malkin, or Staal, the scoring chances are minute.

It is stastically proven that game two is more important than game one.  Now the series shifts to Canada’s capital.  Go Pens.

No. 1 Star: Sidney Crosby, 1g, gwa, defensive save, won 68% of face-offs

Blew A Tire: Andy Sutton, -1, 2 penalties, KO of Jordan Leopold