Thursday, January 6, 2011

Penguins dominate; Will Vancouver ever lose?

Penguins blitz Lightning, storm to easy victory
There wasn't any snow in Pittsburgh for the Winter Classic, but there was a snowman at the next hockey game in the 'burgh.

In just seven seconds from the start of the game, the Penguins scored as many goals as they did in 60 outdoor minutes, and Dwayne Roloson allowed more goals than he had in 63 minutes the previous night against Washington, as Pittsburgh demolished Tampa Bay, 8-1, behind Chris Kunitz's second career hat trick.

Evgeni Malkin swiped a pass off the opening faceoff and found a way to beat Roloson just seven seconds into the game and the Penguins were off and running. Chris Conner and Tyler Kennedy chased Roloson after just 7:17 and Kunitz greeted Dan Ellis with a goal before eight minutes expired on the first shot Ellis saw. The Penguins led 4-0 at the 7:42 mark.

Kunitz added two power play goals off deflections and Mark Letestu and Alex Goligoski also scored for the Penguins. Kris Letang and Goligoski both had three assists.

The scary part? Six Penguins had multiple points yet none of those six were named Sidney Crosby (one assist) or Malkin (one goal). Kennedy and Conner had one assist and Ben Lovejoy recorded two. Marc-Andre Fleury ended up with 31 saves.

One other "How can things get any worse?" moment for the Lightning was Steven Stamkos was awarded a penalty shot, but lost control of the puck then lost the edge on both skates and fell down before even getting close to the goal. It was even worse than Ilya Kovalchuk's failed shootout attempt earlier in the season. Stamkos did not record a point or even a single shot on goal.

Rollin' rollin' rawhide
There seems to be little stopping Vancouver these days. The Canucks just keep rolling along.

Roberto Luongo made 43 saves, losing his shutout bid with 10 seconds remaining, but still led Vancouver to a 3-1 win over Calgary. The Canucks won their seventh straight game, are 9-0-1 in the last 10 and remained on top the NHL overall standings.

Kevin Bieksa had a goal and assist, Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin scored and Alex Burrows registered two helpers.

Good timing
Norway's finest Mats Zuccarello scored his first NHL goal with 1:51 left in overtime to give the Rangers a 2-1 win over Carolina. He also assisted on Matt Gilroy's goal. Brandon Dubinsky tallied two helpers and Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves.

Double trouble
--Rich Peverley scored twice and Atlanta held off Florida to earn a 3-2 win. Ondrej Pavelec made 33 saves, including 15 in the third period.
--Mike Ribeiro's second power play goal looked like an intended pass but took a deflection and squeaked past Corey Crawford to break a tie and Dallas doubled up Chicago, 4-2. Steve Ott netted a shorthanded empty net goal to seal the win. Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson each had two assists and Kari Lehtonen made 35 saves.
--Nashville hit a pair of empty nets and Pekka Rinne made 40 saves to lead the Predators over Anaheim, 4-1. Patric Hornqvist and Sergei Kostitsyn each had a goal and assist.

--So, I guess OK, Tampa played a real tough overtime game Tuesday in Washington. But still, 8-1? Yowza. Some of it was bad goaltending, some bad luck, and some the Lightning just plain got steamrolled until the Penguins called off the dogs in the third period.

--Stamkos having zero shots on goal was the hidden stunner to me.

--Kevin Allen of USA Today says the Winter Classic should have only a handful of teams privileged enough to grace the outside with their presence. I'm going to commit a homicide soon at this rate. It could be a mass homicide. I hope you'll all bail me out when it happens.

--Quality victory for the Stars. That's the kind of win that gets teams taking Dallas seriously.

I can't think straight any more after I read that Allen article. I guess I just don't get it. I liked the Winter Classic until I actually WATCHED THE EFFING GAMES and had to cover my eyes at the horrid quality of play. I guess that's not what's important.

In a related story, I guarantee ALL my future Winter Classic tickets - and I'll get them, since apparently the Penguins will be in it every other season - will be for sale. I'll let them go relatively cheaply too.

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