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Penguins-Panthers In-Game Blog (Home Opener Edition)

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
0:00: The clock winds down with Theodore's net empty. The Pens win it 4-2!!!

Asham goes to the box for hooking. The Pens power play goes back to work--but not before a time out.

5:13: Duper doesn't have his stick. On one of the last shifts, another Pens forward was without his stick as well.

8:18: Big block by Arron Asham just now. Panthers looked like they were on a power play that last shift the way they slowed down the play. They're certainyl not going to go down without a fight.

11:11: Pens back to full strength.

13:12: Penalty killer extraordinaire Park gets called for holding. Pens to the PK.

13:21: Staal drives to the net hard, shielding the puck enough to allow him to send a pass across the crease that bounces off Theodore's pad and right to the stick of a crashing James Neal, who sends it home! Pens 4, Panthers 2

16:43: Weiss sends a pretty no-look pass to Fleischmann, who's waiting at the dot. He one-times a blast past Flower for the score. Pens 3, Panthers 2

16:58: Panthers back to full strength.

18:58: Weird, Pens are getting a power play early in the third when Dmitry Kulikov gets sent to the box.

20:00: Puck drops. Game on!


And here it is...the phenomenal opener that played on the Jumbotron this evening. WE WANT IT NOW!!!


- Richard Park is playing in his second-ever home opener as a Pittsburgh Penguins. He has won 73 percent of his faceoffs, going 8-for-11 in the dot
- Letang has logged a staggering 17:32 of ice time

0:00: That'll do it for the second. Pens end the period with 5 seconds left on Staal's penalty. They lead the Panthers 3-1 but Florida has a slight advantage in shots, 22-21.

1:55: Big Mac Attack is over unfortunately. No free Big Macs for Pens fans tonight. And now Staal is in the penalty box for cross-checking. Pens to the PK.

3:58: The Big Mac Attack starts now!!! If the Pens score in the next two minutes fans at the game can redeem their tickets for free Big Macs. Bob Grove and I will be monitoring the situation closely.

4:39: With 39 seconds left on the PK, Pens score their second shorty of the season! Adams forechecks the D hard and makes them lose the puck. Park swoops in and blasts it home!!! Pens 3, Panthers 1

5:20: Staal uses his imposing size and strength to power his way to the net holding off a defender with one arm. He gets a shot off but it goes wide. That woulda been one for the highlight reels if it would have went in.

6:00: Cookie's getting a pair for interference. Pens to the PK.

7:54: And just like that, Panthers claw within one. Marcel Goc lifts a rebound short side past Fleury. Crowd didn't even register that goal. Pens 2, Panthers 1

8:21: Vitale barrels into the zone after receiving a touch pass from Duper. He sends a beauty of a backhander to a crashing Cooke, who gets the score! Pens 2, Panthers 0

10:23: Flower goes to play a puck behind his net, but he gets tangled with a Panthers player and has trouble getting back into his crease. Luckily he makes it back in time! Seconds later, Shawn Matthias grabs a rebound and shoots it through the blue paint. Pens able to clear.

13:45: Lots of back-and-forth play these past few minutes. Both teams gaining the others' zone but not able to stay there too long.

16:18: Pittsburgh couldn't get much going on that man-advantage. Panthers back to full strength.

18:18: Pens get a PP oppoirtunity to start this period as well! Jason Garrison gets a pair for boarding.

20:00: Puck drops. Game on!



- Park won all six of his faceoffs that period
- Letang now has six points in four games with his assist on Duper's goal. That means he leads the NHL in that category!!. He paced the team with 8:40 minutes that period

0:00: That'll do it for the first. Pens hold a 1-0 lead thanks to Pascal Dupuis. Shots are even at 12 apiece.

0:53: Panthers back to full strength.

2:53: Pens get another PP when Tomas Fleischmann gets called for hooking.

3:00: Panthers get a HUGE chance just now! Stephen Weiss sent a backhander to the net that Fleury just gets a piece of (bouncing off his head) and sat there wobbling just outside the goal line! But Fleury's teammates come to his aid, with Lovejoy and Kunitz immediately converging to the blue paint to help keep the puck out!

3:36: Park winds up and rips a shot that hits the side of the cage. He's having a solid outing so far, winning all four of his faceoffs.

5:03: What an individual effort by Duper! He planted himself in front of the net and got a pass. He then grabbed his own rebound while surrounded by three Panthers and stuffed it home for his first goal of the year (and first for the home crowd to witness)!! Pens 1, Panthers 0

8:55: Panthers finally make Fleury freeze a puck after the Pens were controlling the play for a long stretch there.

10:22: Kennedy rings a shot off the inside of the post from the circle! Sooo close. TK diligently practices shooting from that area before most practices. His hard work almost paid off.

11:41: Now it's Pittsburgh's turn to head on the PP when Ryan Carter gets two for hooking.

11:57: Pens get a decent chance off the faceoff when Park tries to stuff a shot in from just behind the cage. It squirts out into the paint, where the Pens dig but can't get it past Theodore.

12:07: Lovejoy starts off a nice play when he carries the puck just past the blue line in his own end and sends it around the boards. He shoots it hard enough so that it rims all the way around to his D partner Niskanen, who gets a quality shot on goal instead of an icing call.

14:28: Sully carries around the net, wheels in front and whips a shot to the cage that Theodore turns aside. Good chance for the Pens.

17:06: Pens back to full strength! They've now killed 24-of-26 Florida power plays over the past two seasons. (Well, I guess three including this game).

18:00: Big shot block by Duper as he aggressively challenges the point man!

19:06: Pens will be a man short early when Letang gets whistled for tripping. Pittsburgh on the PK.

20:00: It's finally a hockey night in Pittsburgh!! Here we go!


7:37 PM:
All of the scratched/IR players -- Jeffrey, Orpik, Malkin, and Crosby -- were introduced to complete the ceremony. The wild cheers they drew from the crowd were goosebump inducing, especially Sid's.

7:31 PM:
As expected, the opening video was absolutely awesome. Big props to the game night entertainment staff for a wonderful job!!! Now the players are entering the ice one at a time to some sweet-looking purple and white beams of light. They're all lining up at the red line once they skate out. Finally the Penguins get to have their own opening ceremony after watching so many others.

7:30 PM:
Malkin, MacIntyre and Orpik are the scratches. Here are tonight's lines:



Fleury gets the nod between the pipes. Jose Theodore will start for Florida. Get the skinny on the Panthers here.

7:15 PM:
If you've missed any of the day's happenings, get caught up at the Pens Report. The news of the day is that Evgeni Malkin will not be in the lineup with lower-body soreness, with head coach Dan Bylsma listing his status as day-to-day. Brooks Orpik, while improving, will also not be in the lineup as he continues to recover from offseason abdominal surgery.

7:00 PM:
The time has finally arrived. It's time to open the 2011-12 season in front of the home crowd.

While last year's christening of this beautiful barn that is CONSOL Energy Center will obviously never be outdone for a bajillion reasons, home openers are always incredibly special as it's been 164 days since the Penguins last played a game that mattered in front of their fans. And this one may be even more eagerly anticipated than normal because of the fact that the guys had to sit through three-straight openers in their opponents' arenas (VAN, CGY, EDM) before tonight.

In honor of the boys finally returning to Pittsburgh where they belong, I've decided to start the blog with a song. Normally I leave the music up to Sam Kasan, but there's 3957306 songs in the world that have to do with coming home. And while I wanted to play P. Diddy's "Coming Home," I decided to go with Motley Crue's "Home Sweet Home." Hope it tides you over until we post what's sure to be an incredible opening video from the game entertainment staff.

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