Crosby, Kunitz Power Pittsburgh Penguins Past Blue Jackets in Preseason Opener

WoooooSenior Writer ISeptember 16, 2009

It's best to begin this inaugural recap of the 2009-10 preseason with a reference not to Sidney Crosby (although that has already been accomplished by the headline of the article), Evgeni Malkin, or Marc-Andre Fleury, but instead with a reference to the man behind the machine, Penguins' General Manager, Ray Shero.

At last season's trade deadline, Shero traded defenseman Ryan Whitney to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Chris Kunitz and prospect Eric Tangradi.

Kunitz proved his worth by effectively skating alongside Sid the Kid for the final portion of the regular season and the Stanely Cup playoffs, but Tangradi never got a shot with the big club.

This season, Tangradi attended the Penguins' rookie camp and impressed many during the Traverse City Tournament.

Tonight, due to the absence of Bill Guerin in the Pens' starting lineup, Tangradi found himself on Crosby's right wing...and he didn't disappoint.

Tangradi displayed both his toughness, and his handiness, by laying a bone crunching hit on Jared Boll in the first period, and setting up both of Crosby's third period goals, further proving that as long as King Shero is dealing the cards, Penguin fans should feel that their team is in good hands.

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Marc-Andre Fleury started the game between the pipes for the Pens and allowed three goals on 19 shots.

As we have become accustomed to with the Flower, he was brilliant at times, and lackluster at others. Granted, it's only September 15, so Fleury has plenty of time to work out the kinks and return to his Stanley Cup Finals form come October 2.

The Jackets, minus Rick Nash who didn't suit up tonight, took a three goal lead into the third period thanks to a goal from sophomore Jakub Voracek and a pair from rookie Maksim Mayorov.

The Pens got an early power play in the third period and Tangradi knocked a Sergei Gonchar pass out of mid air with his hand and fed a pass to Crosby in front of the net for the power play goal.

Three minutes later, Tangradi knocked another puck out of the air, against the boards behind the BJ's net.

Crosby corralled the loose biscuit and scored on a smooth wrap around to cut the deficit to a single goal.

The Pens tied the game with just over four minutes to play on a sneaky shot from the former Dallas Star, Chris Conner. Former St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay McKee picked up the assist.

Some joke from Ohio scored on a wrap around to give the BJs the lead with two minutes to play.

The Pens answered back when Mark Eaton fired a shot from the point and Chris Kunitz pounded home the rebound to force overtime.

Forty-four seconds into overtime, Sidney Crosby remembered that he had to get home to catch Jay Leno at 10:00 and fed a crisp pass to Kunitz, who fired a shot over the shoulder of Dan LaCosta to give the Pens the 5-4 overtime victory.

Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left the building.

Final Score: Pens 5, Blue Jackets 4 (OT)

Game Notes:

- The Pens out shot the BJs 42-28.

- Mathieu Garon was solid in his return to the Igloo, stopping all 21 shots he faced in just under 26 minutes of ice time. Dan LaCosta is a joke.

- Both Eric Tangradi and 2009 first round pick Simon Despres looked impressive in their Penguin debuts.

- Sergei Gonchar didn't get hurt (insert sigh of relief).

- Kunitz and Crosby look to have picked up where they left off in the regular season last year, setting each other up, but more importantly, finishing plays. Add Bill Guerin to the mix and the Pens should once again have one of the more versatile top lines in the league.

- The Pens host the Leafs on Friday night. Look for a little less Sid and a little more Geno.

Let's Go Pens.


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