It was a race to elimination as Sidney Crosby
skated toward the empty net.
The sight of the puck sailing into the goal brought a sense of relief for Fatsy and me.
But, like so many times before, Crosby skated through a gauntlet to seal another contest with the freebie goal on NHL08 as we marched through the regular season and playoffs.
It happened in real life Wednesday night as Crosby’s empty-net tally gave the Penguins the thrilling 3-1 victory over the Senators. Just like in the video game counterpart, it was a total battle for the Penguins. With the Pens up, 2-1, late in the game, we sat and waited for some sort of glitch goal or garbage tally or someone to get stapled along the boards as the Sens pressured the daylights out of the Pens.
However, Marc-Andre Fleury
and the Penguins held on and gutted out the victory.
In many ways, it was similar to our video game experience as we dominated in every facet of the game, yet the games remained relatively close. Only we bounced the Sens in the Eastern Conference Finals. Hopefully, that’s a good sign for the real Penguins.
There’s one big difference in our playoffs, though – the Blue Jackets upset the Sharks to win the Western Conference to set up a rather fictional Stanley Cup Finals showdown.
Nevertheless, the real Penguins treated their series against the Senators like a video game. They had complete mastery over Ottawa and established or tied a few records along the way:
- It was the Penguins’ first-ever playoff series win against a Canadian team in the franchise’s existence
- The Penguins allowed the fewest goals (5) in a four-game series. That broke the previous record of six in 1970 against Oakland. (No, not the Athletics or Raiders)
- The Flower probably set a record for fewest goals allowed in a four-game series by a Penguins goaltender as well.
- Sidney Crosby established a new Pens standard as he scored 12 seconds into the third period in Game 3. That marks the Penguins’ fastest goal to start a period. It broke Greg Malone’s record of 15 seconds on April 8, 1981, at St, Louis.
- Marian Hossa’s seven shots in the first period of Game 4 tied the record for most shots in a period in a playoff game. Larry Murphy set that mark on April 11, 1991, against New Jersey.
Take a look around the league and it’s a real testament to the Penguins that they were the only squad to earn a sweep. The East is panning out as to what I thought, but how about the wars in the West? Sharks-Flames, Avs-Wild and the suddenly-hot Preds and stunned Wings. Not to mention the Stars taking the first two from the Ducks. Wow.
I guess that’s why this is truly the best time of year to be a hockey fan, whether you’re playing it in a video game or watching it unfold live.