Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Game 80: Penguins vs. Bruins Recap

Two games ended by a score of 5-3 on Tuesday night and each of them were beneficial for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The New York Rangers clinched the top spot in the east with a win over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers loss coupled with the Penguins' win over the Boston Bruins gives the Pens a big edge for home ice in their upcoming playoff series with the Flyers. But even with the win, the Penguins have a lot of work to do to reverse their fortune against their cross state rivals in their home arena.

The game featured a battle of backup goaltenders that haven't been extremely relevant in the NHL for many years. Brent Johnson was in goal for the Penguins while Marty Turco minded the net for the Bruins. Neither goalie was great, but Johnson was good enough. Turco's issues started early in the game. Sidney Crosby went top shelf on Turco to put the Penguins on the board first.

If you are a member of Twitter and follow the guys over at The Pensblog, you know about the Paul Martin Powerball. Every game, numerous people enter in their guesses for the time of the game in which Martin will score. Martin had gone 41 games without scoring and the jackpot reached a total of $455. Well that total will go no higher. Martin scored an awkward goal (of course it was) where the Penguins were close to be offside on the play. Nevertheless it counted and most importantly gave the Penguins a two goal lead.

Unfortunately for the Penguins, two goal leads haven't been a good thing for them. Philadelphia came back from a 2-0 deficit on Sunday. A big reason for the comeback came because of a late first period goal. The Bruins got one of their own at the 16:57 mark of the first period when Benoit Pouliot made a move on Martin who was caught flatfooted and ripped a nice backhand shot past Johnson. And not much time expired in the second period before Milan Lucic tied the game.

Despite the comeback, the Penguins didn't fold with the momentum shift. On the contrary, it was the Bruins that began to fall apart. Late in the period, Daniel Paille took a charging penalty when he left his feet to hit Matt Niskanen who was injured on the play. Just nine seconds later, Kris Letang drew a phantom high stick call Rich Peverley to give the Pens a two man advantage. They capitalized when James Neal netted his 40th goal of the season. Just 16 seconds later, while still on the power play, Andrew Ference instigated a fight with Neal and likely regretted afterwards with the way Neal handled himself. No instigator penalty was called, likely as a makeup call for the back high stick. Regardless, the Penguins still scored on the second power play off of some beautiful passing to set up Crosby in front of the net for his second goal of the game.

Much has been made after the Philadelphia game about the fourth line playing in the third period. Well apparently the NHL hasn't made that illegal yet because Arron Asham gave the Pens a three goal lead when he deflected a shot by Craig Adams past Turco. Peverly added another goal for the Bruins shortly after the Asham goal but the Pens tightened up defensively to only allow nine shots in the third period. Hence making the Bruins' attempt at a comeback futile.

The Penguins control their own destiny right now. They are three points up on the Flyers once again with two games remaining. Given, those two games are against the Rangers and Flyers which won't be easy, but just one more win gives them home ice. However, the thing to remember is that the Flyers don't lose at Consol Energy Center.

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