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If you haven't said it yourself by now, then allow me to do it. The Penguins are playing amazing hockey right now. They're controlling the puck in the other team's zone, keeping it out in their own and scoring in flurries of goals like binge drinking frat boys in a beer drinking contest. Doesn't hurt either when your goalie is stopping everything thrown at him.
No one, and I mean NO ONE, could have predicted Ty Conklin would be the saving grace of the Penguins. In case you're wondering about his status upon Fleury's return, don't even think twice about it. Even if Conk is sent back down to WBS (which at this point I'll say is very unlikely), then he doesn't have to clear waivers. This means no one else can claim him and he'll stay in the Pittsburgh system.
But I don't expect that to happen. I do think Dany Sabourin has to start saving up some cash for a new apartment/condo though.
Here's a quick look at tonight's game.
Pens come firing out of the gate controlling the puck in the Panthers' zone. They also get three power play chances but fail to convert. Conklin looks solid in net again and the Panthers look more like the 06/07 Flyers. Despite completely outplaying the Panthers, the Pens are unable to find the back of the net. The clock ticks down and spares the Panthers more heat as the score is tied at zero heading into the second.
The Pens continue to control the puck, dancing and deking around the Panthers' D as if they're orange skating drill cones. Close call for the Pens. The Panthers drive in on Conklin. He stops the first one but is unable to stop the second shot and the red light fires off amidst refs calling off the goal. Video review agrees and the goal is called off.
Ten minutes into the second Coach Therrien tells the Pens to sotp dangling the yarn in front of the Cats. Sykora obeys, takes the pass from Sid and charges the net. Syk shot from Sykora notches the first goal on the power play to put the Pens up 1-0.
In typical Pittsburgh fashion, the Pens rallied back 1:16 later on a Crosby explosion through two defenders to put the Pens ahead by two. Panthers goalie Vokoun couldn't look more aggitated.
Less than two minutes later the Pens continue to control the puck and crash the net in the Panthers' zone. Big Georges Laraque finds the puck, picks up the trash and scores the Pens' third goal of the game. Panthers pull the plug on Vokoun, who winds up getting one of the best seats in the house.
Three goals in three minutes and six seconds. It's not three goals in 48 like the Pens saw against the Leafs, but they'll take it.
Georges Laraque reflected on his goal after the second period, saying his second period goal was the "easiest goal I've ever scored." Pens lead 3-0.
Only 20 minutes to go for Conk's second consecutive shutout (and third of the year). Time couldn't tick down fast enough. Conklin almost ruined it for himself when he launched a puck around the boards and out in the Pens' zone. The delay of game penalty was served by Sykora, but it didn't matter who was in the box. The Pens stopped their only shorthanded job on the night.
Everything was lookin Conk.
The Pens were handed six power play gifts on the night, but only managed to seal the deal on one of them. Ironically enough, the only Panthers goal of the night came short handed during a Penguins power play with just under five minutes remaining in the game. Up until that point the D was keeping everything out. To be honest and fair though (as much as I hate saying it) the Panthers really came out looking like another team in the third. It's just disappointing for Conk that the only goal he gave up on the night came short handed. Final score: Pens 3 Cats 1
Hey, you can't shut em all out. The Pens roll on to seven stright wins and Conklin improves his undefeated record to 8-0. No presence from the new guys tonight, but I wouldn't be surprised if they worked their way into the lineup before the week's end.
The Pens take on the Lightning Thursday at 7:30 as they continue on with their short southeast road trip.
Unfortunately the Devils took down a shootout win tonight to keep them at first place in the Atlantic Division by just one point. Now all the Pens have to do is improve on their division record and everything is gravy.
I don't know about you, but I smell the playoffs...