The Pittsburgh Penguins woke up this morning knowing that every game for the rest of the season was huge.
Every night could potentially play a role in their eventual fate of still playing hockey in May or playing with themselves on their living room couches.
"Did someone say playing with themselves?"
It all started tonight, in front of the 90-something (I've lost count) consecutive sellout crowd at Mellon Arena.
Colton Orr was on the ice to start the game for the New York Rangers. Penguins' head coach Michel Therrien countered with a line of Eric Godard-Jordan Staal-Paul Bissonnette.
Orr and Godard exchanged punches before the Godfather landed the knockout blow.
"I've seen that fish before."
Pascal Dupuis offered to shave Paul Mara's beard with the blade of his stick, but Mara declined and Dups went to the box for two minutes.
The first period ended in a tie, as did the second.
Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist turned the game into a duel of goatenders through 40 minutes of action.
Heading into the third period, you could feel that the next goal was probably going to win the game.
In a rare series of events, the Pens were actually the beneficiaries of a fortuitous bounce that led to a goal.
Jordan Staal threw a puck toward the net from the left wing and the biscuit slipped under the stick of Lundqvist, deflected off of his left skate and into the back of the net. 2-1 Pens.
The Pens got something going with the Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby unit on the ice. Sid found Kris Letang at the top of the right circle, where he has taken 400 shots this season.
Finally, Tanger found some open space over the shoulder of Lundqvist and notched his second goal of the season. 3-1 Pens.
Dimitri Kalinin decided to shoot the puck over the net when the Rags were shorthanded, giving the Pens a two-man advantage.
Everyone knew what that meant.
Michel Therrien told Penguins' color analyst Bob Errey that "we are on our home ice, we aren't backing down," and they didn't.
The Pens responded when LeGame summoned his inner Paul Coffey and went coast-to-coast through the Rangers' defense and beat King Henry through the five hole. What a goal. 5-2 Pens.
A three goal win on home ice would have been great. A win on home ice period would have been more than enough. But, the Pens weren't satisfied.
Geno mixed it up with two Rangers along the left wall and pryed the puck free, into the center of the ice.
Sid picked up the loose biscuit and roofed a wicked backhander. 6-2 Pens.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left the building.
- How sweet was it to see Letang notch two goals tonight? He has been playing his ass off all season long and is blossoming into a true two-way NHL defenseman. Chew on that, Redden.
- Chris Drury, the Rangers' "Captain" is like their third or fourth line center. When has that ever happened before? Joke.
- The Pens are finally getting healthy, and it shows. Take nothing away from Chris Minard, Paul Bissonnette and Bill Thomas, but when Ruslan Fedotenko returns in another two weeks or so and Sergei Gonchar gets back before the end of February, the Pens are going to peak at exactly the right time. Let's just hope they are still in the playoff picture at that time.
- The Pens travel to New Jersey to meet the Devils on Friday, and then to Toronto to play the Leafs on Saturday. Bring it.
Let's Go Pens