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Pens-Canucks (Season Opener) In-Game Blog

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins


EVGENI MALKIN WINS THE GAME FOR PITTSBURGH IN THE SHOOTOUT! He pulls out the kick fake, gets Luongo to commit and go down on his stomach and he patiently lifts the puck forehand over the prone goaltender!

Alex Burrows tries to go backhand on Fleury, who whips his glove out and snatches the puck!

Letang up for Pittsburgh. He dekes Luongo out with a bunch of back-and-forth moves that cumulates with a backhand lifter. Beauty!!!

Mikael Samuelsson will go first for Vancouver. 1-for-8 in his career. Make that... 1-for-9 as Flower gives him nothing!


0:00: Neither team can conver in the extra frame. That means we're going to a shootout. Welcome back to NHL hockey, folks!!! Luckily the Pens have been practicing these!

0:53: Bylsma uses his timeout with a faceoff coming up in their D zone.

1:35: Geno really using his size and strength to shield the puck tonight. He can't get past Hamhuis, though, so he drops the puck to Letang and 58's shot goes high and wide.

3:39: Note: Jordan Staal headed to the locker room with a few minutes left in the third period. We're not sure why. We'll keep you posted if we hear anything.

4:41: Yikes. Canucks nearly just scored by banking a puck off Kris Letang. Somehow the Pens kept it out. I'm having a heart attack.

5:00: Extra period has begun. Don't forget the teams skate 4-on-4 per NHL rules. Malkin and Sully start out vs. the Sedin twins up top.


0:00: That'll do it for regulation. We're going to overtime as the Pens and Canucks are tied 3-3 through 60 minutes. Nothing like making it exciting, guys...

1:44: Vancouver just had a huge chance! Cody Hodgson created some space for himself in front of the net, with Flower coming waaay out of his net to challenge! Pretty sure the puck rolled under thhe crossbar and out before Pens could clear it!

2:39: Time is ticking away as both teams are pressing hard for the regulation win!

5:36: After a big chance for the Canucks (Lapierre just missed the net!) the Pens respond right back with a couple of decent scoring opportunities of their own! Whew!

7:17: Pens back to full strength. Canucks still have play rimmed in the Pens' D zone.

9:17: H. Sedin finds some space in the slot and he whips a shot at Flower, who kicks his pad out and makes the save! But the Pens are getting whistled for a penalty on the play. Michalek in the box. Pens on the PK.

9:59: Geno's line having a big shift in the Canucks zone right now. Controlling play and making the Canucks chase them around.

12:09: On a delayed penalty to Paul Martin, the Canucks have tied the game. With Burrows in front of the net, 2011 Art Ross Trophy winner D. Sedin patiently takes his time, stepping around his teammate and picking his spot. He lifts the puck over Flower for the score. Pens 3, Canucks 3

13:05: Sorry for the sporadic posts this period! We're having Twitter troubles on our writers' account (@PensInsideScoop). Looks like the social media powerhouse is over capacity.

17:44: Matt Cooke has never had a hat trick. Two goals are the most he's had in a game, and he's accomplished that eight other times before tonight. The last time was Nov. 16, 2009 vs. Anaheim.

20:00: Final frame has commenced!


- Letang has two assists tonight
- Neal leads with 4 hits, while Dupuis and Asham each have 3
- Martin leads with 17:59 of ice time
- Lovejoy and Staal both have 3 shots
- All 3 Pens goals have come on special teams

0:00: First 40 minutes are in the books. Pens lead 3-2 on goals from Neal and Cooke (2). Pitt outshooting Van 21-18.

1:08: Pens just had a perfectly executed faceoff play. Malkin cleanly wins the draw back to Neal, who immediately tees off and hits the post!!!

2:13: Ballard makes things interesting when he starts the play from his own zone then streaks down the ice without hesitation. He receives a pass and lifts it over Flower and into the net. Crowd is roaring now. Pens 3, Canucks 2

2:48: This just in -- the Detroit Tigers have defeated the New York Yankees in Game 5 of theiir American League Division Series and will advance to the league championship!!! I bet coach Bylsma is just as happy as I am.

5:21: And now we're all back to full strength. Everything is hunky dory now.

6:01: Pens now have the man advantage for 38 seconds.

7:23: And the power play is negated when Burrows blatantly hooks Martin. We're going 4-on-4 for 1:23!

7:43: Cooke, Staal, Martin and Michalek are out for the first kill.

8:01: Tanger's going to the box. Second rematch of the night for last season's No. 1-ranked PP and PK.

8:47: Canucks starting to attack pretty hard right now. But their push just now was thwarted by a sprawling shot block by Kunitz, who's wearing an "A" tonight in Sid's absence.

11:19: Canucks get a good chance with a loose puck just sitting in the crease, but Flower pounces and takes the light of day away from that little rubber disc.

14:05: Noticing that Martin and Michalek are making plays that they probably didn't feel comfortable making at this time last year in terms of pinching in low and both going into the corners of the Pens' D zone.

16:51: Staal banks a pass off the boards to Cooke, who carries down the ice and uses Bieksa as a screen to snipe the far side of the net on Luongo! Extra-special teams tonight for the Pens as Cooke gets his 2nd of the evening! Pens 3, Canucks 1

18:26: Last year's No. 1-ranked PP goes to work against the No. 1-ranked PK as Geno gets two for elbowing Chris Higgins. Staal, Dupuis, Martin and Michalek out first for the Pens.

19:17: Another big save by Flower!!! Sedin sends a perfect cross-ice pass to a crashing Burrows, who all but had a goal in the bag, but Fleury makes an unbelievable save.

20:00: Puck drops for the second!


Do you know these guys? The Green Men are famous for their antics at Canucks games. Yahoo! sports blog Puck Daddy described them as "merry pranksters of the penalty box, mocking opposing players as they sit in the sin bin with props, pantomimes and acrobatic taunts." Couldn't have said it better myself.

Anywho, the point of this story is that while Vancouver may have the Green Men, Pens fans can now be proud to say that we have...the Yellow Man. Yellow Man > Green Men. I'll take Yellow Man all day, every day.

PensTV talked to Yellow Man before the game:

- Pens are 2-for-2 on the power play!!!
- Duper has a pretty assist and leads with 5 hits
- Staal is 5-of-8 (63 percent) on faceoffs
- Martin and Letang have both skated for exactly 8:09 minutes

0:00: That'll do it for the 1st. Pens lead 2-1 on goals from Neal and Cooke. Pens have a 10-9 advantage in shots.

2:03: And Fleury bounces back immediately with a wicked glove save on Daniel Sedin! Insane reflexes by the Flower! He had been sliding to his right, but displays great instincts when he snaps his catcher over and robs Sedin on the doorstep. They even did a video review on the play to see if Fleury caught the puck in the net, but it's ruled no goal.

3:40: Now it's the Canucks' turn to score from a janky angle. Maxim Lapierre (with Michalek hounding him) sends a puck to the net from the corner on the red line. It somehow creeps through Fleury, who's hugging his post, and into the net. Pens 2, Canucks 1

4:55: Tanger has had a fantastic start, by the way. He started the game by making that big stretcg pass before getting an assist on Neal's goal. Then just now, he joined the rush with Malkin and Neal, earning a quality scoring chance on the play off a pass from Geno.

5:42: How about the Pens' PP clicking at 100 percent so far this season?! 2-for-2. It's a start, that's for sure.

7:30: With 8 seconds left on the power play, Dupuis feeds a no-look pass on his backhand from behind the net (he's literally turned facing the boards) to Cooke in front, who immediately slams it home top shelf for the score!!! Pens 2, Canucks 0

9:22: Pens head back on the PP when Hansen gets two for elbowing!

9:33: Geno just lifted up a Vancouver player's stick and just took the puck from him like it was candy from a baby. Thank you very much.

10:12: Editorial note: I like seeing Cooke and Dupuis on the same line. Those guys can forecheck (and penalty kill) like nobody's business and seem to gel well together.

11:16: Kunitz finds some space and hustles in the zone to get a shot on goal. Awesome pace to this game so far.

14:56: That didn't take long! Neal scores the Penguins' first goal of the season when Malkin, on the half wall, cycles a no-look pass along the boards that finds No. 18 on the side of the net. He shoots from a bad angle and somehow gets the puck past Luongo! It looks like Luongo was expecting a centering pass, but it deflected off the inside of his right pad. Pens 1, Canucks 0

15:12: Matt Cooke barrels behind the back of the net on the forecheck and Kevin Bieksa hooks him. Ref's arm instantly goes up. Pens on the PP!

16:43: Geno is just a beast out there right now. He's more powerful than ever and is using his strength to protect the puck and carry in deep.

19:03: Big chance early for the Pens! A long stretch pass from Letang (playing the left side instead of his usual right with Orpik's absence) to James Neal, who catches it, spins and is off to the races. He sends a backhand pass over to Sullivan, whose shot is barely turned aside by Luongo! Actually, I think it might have hit a Nucks defender.

20:00: After a trophy presentation to commemorate the Canucks' impressive 2010-11 season and both the American and Canadian national anthems, it's FINALLY time!!! Here we go!!!


10:00 PM:
It's official. Brooks Orpik is NOT in the lineup for tonight. He is scratched along with Steve MacIntyre and Richard Park.

Here's how the Pens' lines shake down (they're the same combos they've been skating in the past 2 days):




Also, here are the Canucks' lines according to the team's official website:

D. Sedin-H. Sedin-Burrows



9:15 PM:
Also, here’s my scouting report on Vancouver if you'd like a little pre-game reading. It takes a look at the makeup of their roster, dissecting their forwards, defense, goaltending and injury situations while providing a slew of game notes.

We’re also doing an awesome new feature this season where PensTV will put together an accompanying video for all of our game previews. Check it out here:

9:00 PM:
Welcome to our first regular-season blog of the 2011-12 campaign! After a lengthy offseason and weeks of training camp, I absolutely can’t wait to get started – and I’m sure all of you feel the same. Thanks to all of you who tune in! I promise you we’ll do our best over the course of the season to make this as awesome as possible – and to make you feel like you’re right there at the game watching your beloved Pens no matter where they are.

The big news coming out of today’s morning skate (or mid-to-late afternoon, depending on where you are) is that defenseman Brooks Orpik is a game-time decision for tonight. Orpik underwent lower abdominal/hernia surgery on his right side in July, after having the same procedure done on his left side the year before.

He’s emphasized that this is an injury he doesn’t want to rush, so while he’s been practicing with the team since last Saturday, the Penguins staff is unsure if they want to put Brooksy back in the lineup just yet. We’ll let you know what they decide!

Head coach Dan Bylsma discussed this morning how both the players and staff are pretty jacked up for tonight’s contest, and Sam Kasan got a feel for just how excited the team is for the opener on Wednesday. On the flip side, I can only imagine the emotions that the Canucks are feeling, knowing they came just inches away from having a banner-raising ceremony tonight. It’s going to be a great matchup between two highly-skilled teams. Let’s drop the puck already!!!

I sporadically start my blogs with songs; that’s definitely more Sam’s department. But today I wanted to start with my favorite little ditty of all time, the xx's "Intro." I thought it'd be fitting, seeing as this game is the segway into the regular season. Hopefully you agree.

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