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Penguins Battle Mother Nature

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mother Nature struck again, and the Penguins found themselves victimized once more.

The historic snowstorm that pulverized the East Coast, including the city of Pittsburgh itself, created havoc and last-minute travel adjustments for the Penguins Saturday. The team couldn’t fly directly from Montreal, Quebec, where it played the Canadiens Saturday afternoon, to Washington, D.C., where it has a Sunday matinee showdown with the Capitals.

In the end, the Penguins were forced to fly a plane from Montreal to Newark, New Jersey and then take a five-hour bus ride to Washington. The circumstances created a long night of travel and the team didn’t arrive in D.C. until 2:15 a.m.

Washington was hit particularly hard with snow and all incoming flights were cancelled due to the unsafe atmosphere. Since flying directly from Montreal to DC was no longer an option for the Penguins, the team starting looking for alternate ways of arriving in the Nation’s Capital.

Pittsburgh’s new plan was to fly into the nearest possible city and then take a bus or train to Washington – and every turn seemed to be a dead end. Due to the snow, the team couldn’t land in airports in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh or Baltimore. And what’s more, the one destination the Penguins could have flown to – Richmond, Virgina – was not an option because the snow forced the city to shutdown its highway.

The closest destination for Pittsburgh to land was in Newark. So the Penguins flew from Montreal to Newark; then boarded a bus for a five-hour ride through the blizzard’s remnants to Washington.

The team's equipment crammed onto a bus
One other major logistics problem facing the team was finding a way to transport all of the club’s equipment. Ordinarily, the home city’s team will send a truck to retrieve the visitor’s equipment. But it was too far a drive for the Capitals’ truck to Newark. So the Penguins used two full-length buses – one for the team and the other used entirely for equipment.

The players, coaches and staff took the situation in stride. The team watched the The DaVinci Code before making a fast food pit stop at midnight. The team then watched The Code for the remainder of the ride (for some reason, Code was the theme of the night). Both films were courtesy of defenseman Sergei Gonchar.

It was difficult circumstances for the team, but in the end the Penguins overcame Mother Nature and arrived in Washington. Even though it was not an ideal situation, the team has little choice but to get some rest and then get ready to face the top team in the Eastern Conference standings. After all, as one Penguin put it after arriving at the team hotel in Washington: “We have to be at the rink in a few hours for the game.”

4:43 PM: The Penguins’ game in Montreal ends
5:52 PM: The Penguins arrive at Montreal Airport
6:47 PM: The Penguins get through customs and board the plane
7:30 PM: The Penguins’ plane takes off for Newark, New Jersey
8:52 PM: The Penguins land in Newark
9:24 PM: The Penguins bus departs from Newark for Washington
11:45 PM: The Penguins hit a rest stop for food in Maryland, 81 miles from DC
2:15 AM: The Penguins arrive at the team hotel

Read the Penguins vs Capitals Preview here

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