Pens Edge Lightning 3-2 in Preseason Slugfest
By the time the final buzzer sounded, the two teams had amassed an impressive 105 penalty minutes, which included five fighting majors and three game misconducts.
Judging by the physical nature of each of the two preseason meetings between these teams, we may be witnessing the birth of a new rivalry within the Eastern Conference; Pittsburgh versus Pittsburgh South. The Lightning will be boasting five former Penguins on their roster this season (Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, Mark Recchi, Adam Hall, and Michel Ouellet), making the match-ups between these two teams inevitably hostile.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Petr Sykora, Jordan Staal, and Miroslav Satan were out of the lineup for the Pens tonight. The Lightning were once again without newly appointed captain Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Mark Recchi, and Gary Roberts. Former Penguins Adam Hall and Pittsburgh's own Ryan Malone were in the lineup for the Bolts.
Dany Sabourin got the start in goal for the Penguins, as did Olaf Koljoke for the Bolts. Barry Melrose's mullet was slated to tend goal for the Bolts during the third period, but was recalled by 1985 before he could suit up.
Less than two minutes later, the first fight of the game broke out. Penguins' AHL enforcer, Aaron Boogaard dropped the gloves with Zenon Konopka in what would be Konopka's first of three fights during the game.
With the uncertain future of Sergei Gonchar and his "shoulder injury", Letang will likely be seeing a lot more ice time in the coming weeks, especially on the power play. Michel Therrien has stressed to Letang the importance of shooting the puck more, something which he was hesitant to do during his rookie campaign last season.
Ruslan Fedotenko picked up his first point in a Penguins' uniform, as he assisted on Maxime Talbot's goal late in the first period.
The rest of the second consisted of another fight between Paul Bissonnette of Pittsburgh and David Koci of Tampa Gay, and a lot of dumping and chasing on both ends of the ice.
Konopka and Bissonnette dropped the gloves early in the third period, which led to Koci getting in to a battle with the Penguins' Adam Henrich. Four fighting majors were issued and Koci, Bissonnette and Henrich each received 10 minute game misconducts. How Konopka got off clean is beyond me.
Tyler Kennedy sealed the deal on the power play for the Penguins, as he beat Kolzig to score what would ultimately be the winning goal.
Final Score: Pittsburgh 3 Tampa Gay 2
- The four games between these two teams during the regular season are shaping up to look more like a Pittsburgh-Philadelphia game.
- There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Lightning stacking up with offensive talent during the offseason and disregarding their defense. It seems that as long as Koci and Konopka are in the lineup, the Lightning won't have any problems intimidating their opponents, but playing defense effectively on a nightly basis, that remains to be seen.
- Goligoski and Letang seemed to work well together on the Pens' power play in the absence of Gonchar. However, let's hope that is only a short lived combination, at least for another year or two.
- John Curry replaced Dany Sabourin in goal for the Penguins in the second period. Curry played the rest of the game, stopping all 15 shots he faced.
- Neither Fleury nor Sabourin has been stellar in their respective starts this preseason. Let's hope they get back in regular season form before October 4.
- Malone had a solid game. He was involved in some scrums in front of the net, and had one or two decent scoring chances. Whether or not he will replicate his point production from last season will likely determine whether or not the Lightning make the playoffs.
- Stamjokes was invisible tonight. I might have heard his name mentioned twice during the entire game.
- The Penguins third line of Cooke-Talbot-Fedotenko seem like they have developed some chemistry rather quickly. They seemed to mesh well during training camp scrimmages, and although Cooke hasn't played in the preseason yet, Talbot and Fedotenko worked well together tonight.
- The Pens resume preseason action on Wednesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Mellon Arena.
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