March 19, 2006
|Mikael Tellqvist earned his second career |
shutout in Pittsburgh. (Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The only spark at Mellon Arena came on Chad Kilger's penalty-shot goal.
It was the only offense on a dark night in Pittsburgh.
Kilger scored on with 6:51 remaining Sunday night and Mikael Tellqvist made 21 saves in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 1-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins that was delayed twice by blackouts.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the win by the Maple Leafs marked the first time in team history that the Leafs have used a successful penalty shot to win a game by a score of 1-0.
The only other National Hockey League game in history to end with a 1-0 score as a result of a penalty shot goal also involved the Maple Leafs. Bert Connelly of the New York Rangers was successful against Maple Leafs goaltender George Hainsworth on a penalty shot on January 16, 1936 at Madison Square Garden to give New York the 1-0 victory.
Penguins president Ken Sawyer said there also was a small fire in an electrical panel about 30 yards behind a seating section, apparently related to the second blackout. The fire was not announced to the crowd, but hundreds of fans left the building and didn't return once the game was held up a second time.
Sawyer said the fire never reached an emergency level.
"It was a bizarre game, for sure," Kilger said. "But we played a consistent game and stayed focused through the whole thing."
The outcome was decided in one furious sequence.
Pittsburgh rookie Sidney Crosby burst in alone on Tellqvist and took a low wrist shot that skittered off Tellqvist's pads and went wide.
The Maple Leafs immediately countered and sprung Kilger down the left wing and into the Penguins zone. As he cut across the middle to attempt a backhand on goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, defenseman Rob Scuderi tripped him. Referee Wes McCauley immediately signaled for a penalty shot.
Penguins coach Michel Therrien was furious at the call because he felt Kilger never was clearly behind the defense.
"I believe that was a horrible call, but there's nothing we can do," Therrien said. "I don't think it was a clear breakaway. I didn't believe that. Interpretation is always different. It was a tough night. The referees were tough on us."
Pittsburgh was assessed 19 penalty minutes to 10 for Toronto. The Penguins also had an apparent goal by Tomas Surovy nullified by video review because time elapsed in the first period. The review showed the puck crossed the goal line 0.1 seconds after time ran out.
On the penalty shot, Kilger started slowly toward Fleury, then picked up speed and backed him deep into the net. Kilger wristed a firm shot inside the left post for his 14th goal of the season.
"We saw enough glove saves from him early in the game," Kilger said. "I knew I was going blocker."
Fleury finished with 22 saves, several in spectacular fashion.
Tellqvist didn't have to work as hard, but he stopped all nine shots he faced in the third period to notch his second shutout.
Mellon Arena, the NHL's oldest facility, went dark twice during in the second period.
Toronto had the puck during a 5-minute power play at 11:41 of the second period when the power went out and caused play to stop. Some lights returned almost immediately, and the game resumed 18 minutes later.
Many in the crowd of 15,174 seized the opportunity to chant, "New A-Re-Na!" Penguins officials, who are pressing politicians for a new home, showed a video touting their plan during the stoppage.
"My first thought was that we need a new arena," Sawyer said.
The Maple Leafs went back on the power play, but the building went partially dark again at 12:52 of the period.
This time, the referees sent both teams to their locker rooms and tacked on the final 7:08 of the second period to the third.
Sawyer said the initial blackout was caused by the failure of a line running to the arena. The second came when the local power company, Duquesne Light, turned on a secondary power system that overrode the primary.
Toronto coach Pat Quinn said he wasn't concerned about his players' safety.
"We weren't in the dark for any real extended length of time," he said. "I suppose if it happened again a couple of times, you might have thought about not continuing the game."
Toronto, which entered on a 3-7-1 slide including a 5-2 loss at the New York Rangers on Saturday, moved within three points of the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
Pittsburgh, playing perhaps its best hockey of the season, had won three of four.
Toronto was awarded its long power play at 9:45 of the second when Pittsburgh's Eric Cairns was given a major penalty and ejected for boarding Ben Ondrus.
The Maple Leafs didn't register a shot during the advantage.
Notes: Ryan Whitney, Pittsburgh's most effective defenceman recently, was a late scratch because of a strained neck. ... Ondrus remained in the game after Cairns' hit.