Before the game, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review played the role of bearer of bad news when they broke the news that Penguins' defenseman, Sergei Gonchar is "out indefinitely" with a separated shoulder. The Penguins are now without their top two offensive defensemen with the start of the regular season just 10 days away.
I watched the game via the internet live feed that was available to fans in the Pittsburgh area through the Penguins' official website. I'll admit that I wasn't expecting much, but the quality of the feed turned out to be really good. This was the first time this season I have been able to watch the Pens live.
Jeff Jimerson came out onto the ice for the first time this preseason and dominated "Oh, Canada" followed by the "Star Spangled Banner". Hearing Jeff Jimerson sing the anthem was, for me, the first sign that hockey season has returned.
Dany Sabourin would be getting the start for the Pens, as would Justin Pogge for the Leafs. Kris Letang had been moved on to the top defensive pairing for the Pens, taking the place of Gonchar.
Sidney Crosby was out of the lineup for Pittsburgh, with what Michel Therrien referred to as a "groin" condition. I'm assuming all the female residents of the Sewickley suburb where Crosby resides could provide further information on this "condition".
With the Penguins attacking, Max Talbot was knocked down by a clean hit from some Leafs' player named Frog or something. Talbot got to his feet, regained possession of the puck, drove hard to the net, and drew a tripping penalty against Frog.
On the ensuing power play, the Penguins passed the puck around 95 times without ever taking a shot, yet they ended up scoring the first goal of the game due to a lucky bounce.
Petr Sykora took the puck behind the net, tried a centering pass, and had it deflected off of a defenseman's skate in front of the net, past Pogge making it 1-0 Pens.
Shortly after the goal, Newbury (I have to admit I'd never heard of the majority of the guys that suited up for the Leafs tonight) took a run at Alex Goligoski of the Pens. The two exchanged shoves, Newbury dropped his gloves and pulled Golo's jersey over his head. Perhaps Mr. Newbury should have watched some of Darcy Tucker's "How to Start a Fight 101" videos that were left laying around the locker room. Newbury goes to the box for roughing.
On the ensuing power play, the Pens scored once again, without actually shooting the puck. Ruslan Fedotenko was looking for Kris Letang on a backdoor play that would have been a thing of beauty if it connected, but instead the puck deflected off a defenseman into the net. 2-0 Pens.
Jordan Staal took a penalty, and I got my first glimpse of the Penguins' penalty killing units. They used three different sets of forwards to kill the penalty, and all looked solid.
Both teams were passing the puck way too much on the power play. The difference was the Penguins' passes were ending up in the back of the net, whereas the Leafs' passes were ending up as turnovers.
Paul Bissonnette and the Leafs' Mayers dropped the gloves late in the period. It was a weak fight that consisted of a lot of grabbing, pulling, and tackling. Similar to what Pogge's girlfriend is planning on doing to him tonight after the lackluster net-minding performance he put on in the first 30 minutes of this game, only it will be a much more one-sided affair.
14 seconds into the second period, Ruslan Fedotenko makes everyone forget he scored a goal tonight by taking an elbowing penalty.
The Leafs went on the power play. A Leafs defenseman (there were no announcers during the live feed and it was too hard to see names on the back of jerseys) lost an edge in his own zone while being pressured by Malkin.
Malkin graciously scooped up the abandoned biscuit, turned toward the net, and was joined by fellow penalty killer, Jordan Staal. Malkin fed the puck across to Staal, drawing Pogge about five feet farther out of the crease than he had to be. Staal slid the puck back to Malkin who enthusiastically buried his first goal of the preseason into a gaping net. 3-0 Pens.
On the same penalty kill, Max Talbot and Pascal Dupuis had a similar two-on-one chance, but Dupuis fanned on the shot. Somewhere in the middle of the second period Paul Bissonnette was hit with a 10 minute misconduct penalty. I have no idea why and I'm guessing the official probably didn't either.
The middle part of the second period was pretty dull. A couple of penalties, a lot of Leaf suckage, and a few decent hits by Orpik and Cooke.
The line of Satan-Malkin-Sykora possessed the puck in the Leafs’ zone for almost a full minute of game time, further legitimizing the joke that has become the Leafs’ defense.
My video feed became pretty choppy in the second period. I’m not sure if anyone else experienced this or if my computer was just pissed off at me. Either way, there wasn't much to see for the rest of the period.
Jason Blake made his first appearance of the game when he took a penalty late in the second period. The Pens continued their new policy of not shooting the puck on the power play and came away without adding anymore insult to injury.
The second period ended with the score 3-0 Pens.
Early in the third, Ruslan Fedotenko blew past a Leafs' "defender" (notice the quotes, that's intentional) and set up Matt Cooke with a swift cross-ice pass. Pogge was ready for it and was able to deny Cooke.
We won't mention the fact that he had some help from a Stralman high-stick that resulted in another Pens' power play. Oops.
Nothing happening on the power play for the Pens, but Dany Sabourin was tested twice by the shorthanded Leafs, which was two more times than they tested him at even strength all night. Sabou made a Fleury-esque save, getting post to post with the leg pads to stop the shot.
Coincidental penalties were called on Sydor and Stapleton, resulting in a prolonged power play for the Leafs. Sabourin made the best save of the game on a diving effort against a Maple Joke deep in the slot.
Malkin carried the puck the other way, shorthanded, put on more moves than Mae West at a Texas Barbecue, and drew a penalty.
After a little four-on-four action, the Pens were back on the power play. Alex Goligoski had a good look from the right circle, but Pogge said no.
With a little under six minutes left in the game, Brooks Orpik was going to be the recipient of a penalty; that is if the Penguins could ever gain possession of the puck.
The Leafs kept possession in the offensive zone, habitually missing the net on each shot and then chasing down the rebound to "rinse and repeat". The Pens finally touched the puck and after listening to a little crying from Jokeson Blake, Orpik headed to the box.
Ponikarovsky finally cashed in on the power play for the Leafs, pulling the score to 3-1 with about four and a half minutes to play.
The Leafs would eventually pull Pogge, something they should have considered in the first period, in a last ditch effort to get the two goals they needed to force overtime.
Grabovsky deked through two Penguin defensemen, a cotton candy vendor, and eventually Dany Sabourin before scoring a beautiful goal. Talbot was hanging all over Grabovsky, and had he not scored, he would have drawn a penalty, but kudos to him for a heck of a play.
The Leafs were able to pull within one, but wouldn't have time to get the tying goal. Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left the building.
- I had heard nothing but positive things about Tyler Kennedy this preseason, and everything I heard was proved to be true by watching him tonight. He is the most motivated player on the ice every single shift. If you want the definition of "balls to the wall" see: Tyler Kennedy.
- The Pens' third line of Cooke-Talbot-Fedotenko is working really well together. All three guys play a similar grinding style, but all three are also deceptively fast. That should be a line to watch out for during the regular season.
- Pogge looked like a deer in headlights during the first period. He settled down midway through the second, but it was too late by then.
- The Pens won this game in the first 10 minutes. They overwhelmed the Leafs early in the game and the Leafs were never able to fully recover.
- Jeff Taffe centered the Penguins first line tonight. Just re-read that sentence a few times.
- The only time I noticed Luke Schenn tonight was a solid check that he put on Matt Cooke in the second period. Not noticing a defenseman is often more of a good thing than bad, so take that for what it's worth.
- There was way too much passing on the power play tonight, for both teams. Somebody has to get the puck on net, especially when you're trailing by three goals in the Leafs' case.
- The Pens and Maple Jokes will battle again on Friday night in Toronto. The next game at Mellon Arena will not be played until October 11, the regular season home opener against the New Jersey Devils.