Penguins-Rangers: Pittsburgh Begins Title Defense With 3-2 Victory

WoooooSenior Writer IOctober 2, 2009

After a very emotional banner raising ceremony, the 2010 Pittsburgh Penguins were ready to begin their defense of the Stanley Cup against the New York Rangers in the final home opener in Mellon Arena history.

Both teams came out of the gates surprisingly sluggish, but a Chris Drury penalty gave the Pens their first power play opportunity of the new campaign.

If you were around at all prior to last year's playoffs, you'll remember that the power play was often an enigma for the Pens, due largely to the absence of Sergei Gonchar on the blue line.

Just over seven minutes into tonight's action, Sarge reminded us just why we missed him so much.

After turning the puck over at his own blue line, and in front of his own net on the power play, Alex Golijokeski attempted to redeem himself by setting up Sarge with a soft saucer pass to the high slot on the power play.

Gonchar unleashed his patented stationary one-timer from the point while Mike Green marveled at the veteran's power play prowess. Green then threw up on his Reebok's as he gazed down at his bare ring finger and the empty place on his mantle where his dreams of the Norris Trophy smothered the smoke from his fireplace.

Gonch's shot found the back of the net, and thanks to Bob Errey's eagle eyes, we all became aware that Evgeni Malkin had re-directed the shot in front of Lundqvist. 1-0 Pens.

Scoring a goal on the first power play opportunity of the season was huge in so many ways.

A couple of minutes later, Eric Godard and Donald Brashear exchanged pleasantries at center ice. It's hard to say who came out on top, but both men shed some blood, so consider it a good bout.

Chris Drury evened the score at one later in the period by tapping in a nice feed from Chris Higgins.

In recent history, the Penguins have been known to score in bunches.

Tonight's second period was no different.

Kris Letang led a three man rush, splitting Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin on opposite wings.

Tanger drove the net hard and Dan Girardi forgot he was a defenseman and followed Tanger to the corner.

Kunitz threw the puck cross-ice to Guerin, who snuck it in deep to Letang behind the cage.

Tanger fed a soft pass in front to Sidney Crosby, who was trailing the play.

Sid buries it. 2-1 Pens. Unreal play by Letang.

68 seconds later, Golijokeski unleashed a howitzer from the point. He still sucks.

Tyler Kennedy (KENNEDY!) re-directed the puck in the slot and eventually was credited for the goal.

Building off of the momentum change at the end of the second period, the Rangers' best line of Gaborik-Dubinsky-Prospal started flying around.

Dubinsky went around three Penguins in the neutral zone before setting up Gaborik in front of the net.

Gaborik undressed Fleury with a precision shot to pull the Rangers within one. Too bad he'll be on the IR by December.

The rest of the third played out with the teams exchanging chances, but neither finding the back of the net.

The Pens eventually hung on to secure their first victory of the season.

Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left the building.

Final Score: Pittsburgh 3, New York 2

—This game was less physical than everyone expected. Mark it down as "shaking off the rust." Tomorrow night should be more up tempo.

—Dubinsky is a beast.

—Gaborik looked very good. If he stays healthy, the Rangers have a chance to make the playoffs. If not, King Henrik will want to kill himself by February.

—The Pens' third line had more scoring chances than your weird uncle Joe on an episode of To Catch a Predator.

—Matt Cooke is going to have a career year. The same goes for Tyler Kennedy.

—Alex Goligoski is a joke. Three turnovers in your own zone? It's not like he hasn't seen NHL action before.

—The Pens are back in action tomorrow night against the other hockey team from New York with that young kid they just drafted.

Let's Go Pens.