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Pens-Jackets In-Game Blog

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins


0:00: Thiessen gets a win in his NHL debut as the Pens top the Blue Jackets, 4-2! The goalie made 22 saves in the victory.

1:12: Neal catches a high stick in the face from Wisniewski and the Pens will finish this one off on the power play.

4:53: And the Jackets respond on the next shift when Vinny Prospal snipes one far side past Thiessen. PENS 4, JACKETS 2

5:03: A dogged effort by Joe Vitale in the blue paint results in a rebound goal to make it 4-1 Pittsburgh. PENS 4, JACKETS 1

9:13: And once again, the Pens respond. Letang wires a scorching slap shot far side past Sanford to get the Pens their second PP tally of the day. This one counts!!! PENS 3, JACKETS 1

10:38: Wow. The Pens get another goal disallowed when it's ruled that Kunitz interfered with Sanford as a Letang shot tickled the twine. But after watching the replay, it showed that Kunitz nudged Sanford's arm as he was establishing net-front presence and wasn't hindering the goalie in any way when the shot came through. But the play isn't reviewable, so the goal will not count.

10:42: Brassard goes to the box for slashing. Pens back to the PP.

     "Dupuis is one of the hardest working guys on the ice. Every game. No fail. Well deserved goal. #Pens"


14:15: And Dupuis makes up for it just over a minute later! He gets the puck behind the net, carries it out to the circle, turns and fires a shot that sneaks between Sanford and the post for the score! PENS 2, JACKETS 1

15:15: It appears that Kunitz uses his body to get a rebound on a James Neal shot into the wide-open net with Sanford out of position, but the goal is immediately waved off as it was determined that he used a distinct kicking motion. The play does go under review...and the call on the ice stands. No goal for Kunitz. He is the KING of getting goals waved off this year, poor guy.

16:40: Rick Nash tees off a long shot from just inside the blue line that Thiessen squares up to and absorbs. That was the first actual registered shot of the period, I believe.

20:00: Puck drops to start the third. Game on!

(Getty Images)

After a first period with no penalties called, the Jackets got two power-play opportunites in the second while the Pens had three. Evgeni Malkin - no surprise there - connected with 47 seconds left in the period and RJ Umberger in the box to get the Pens back in this game after surrendering a shorthanded tally to Rick Nash with just over 10 minutes to play. The Pens got some much needed momentum back on their side, and hopefully they can keep it going in the third.

0:00: Pens enter the second intermission riding a much-needed wave of momentum. We're tied 1-1 and Pens have a 26-15 edge in shots.

     "OMGeno!!! Powerplay Goal! #Pens"


0:47: And Malkin connects with 47 seconds left in the period to even the score at 1-1! Neal hits Malkin at the side of the net with a beauty of a cross-ice pass, and 'Geno' fires one far side past Sanford for the goal. PENS 1, JACKETS 1

2:07: Umberger gets Neal with a slash and he's going to the box because of it. This period has certainly been marred with penalties after the first frame was free of them.

5:54: Pens kill that off and go back to full strength. A few strong saves by Thiessen during that shorthanded stretch.

8:05: And Dupuis goes off for tripping. Pens to the PK.

8:59: Jackets are back to full strength, by the way.

Note: the knowledgable Bob Grove just informed me that the first goal Marc-Andre Fleury allowed in his NHL career was also a shorthanded tally.

10:11: A bad turnover in the neutral zone leads to Rick Nash getting a shorthanded breakaway. He goes low stick side to beat Thiessen to get the Jackets on the board. JACKETS 1, PENS 0

11:00: After driving Paul Martin into the boards, Derek Dorsett (the NHL's leader in penalty minutes) gets whistled for boarding and the Pens will head back to the PP!

15:00: Despite having the NHL's worst penalty kill, the Jackets manage to keep the Pens off the board. Both Malkin and Sullivan stayed out for the entire two minutes.

17:00: And now it's the Pens' turn to go on the man-advantage, as Tyutin wrestles Malkin to the ground after a shot on goal and is called for holding. Pittsburgh to the PP!

17:21: Pens kill that one off and go back to full strength.

19:43: And we've got our first penalty of the game as Orpik is called for interference. Pens to the PK early.

20:00: Puck drops to start the second. Game on!

(Getty Images)

Not much to report from that period. It was a mostly slow, stilted 20 minutes (with no penalties and no goals) where neither team really got to establish any offensive zone time or any dominant stretches. Thiessen's seen just four shots in his NHL debut, but had to make big saves on a few of them. The best was a gorgeous glove save on Brett Lebda late in the period.

0:00: That'll do it for the first. We're scoreless through 20 minutes with the Pens holding a 15-5 edge in shots.

"Very impressive that Thiessen makes a glove save there. Just the fourth shot for Columbus. He has to be cold. #pens"


2:46: Lebda gets some space in the slot to fire a bullet at Thiessen, who snaps out the glove and gobbles up the puck. Great save by No. 39.

5:08: You can tell Sanford is feelin' it today. He's looking confident and isn't giving up on any pucks. Maybe it's the sky blue (or Smurf blue) pads that he's rockin' today.

8:52: Jack Johnson (who's making his Columbus debut after being traded by Los Angeles) carries into the zone and hits Cam Atkinson with a pass as he goes to the net. Thiessen confidently makes the stop and holds on for the whistle. Big save on the Jackets' first real opportunity.

9:01: Solid shift by the Staal line and Martin-Letang D pairing. They made Sanford work on that shift, getting a few decent shots to the net. Pens have a 10-1 edge in that department as of now.

11:08: Thiessen leaves the crease to play a puck behind the net with a Jackets forward coming hard. But the netminder doesn't panic, digging it out and making a pass to his defender. Bylsma said that playing pucks would be an indication that Thiessen is starting to feel comfortable in goal.

12:28: Kunitz gets a lane to the net and drives there hard with Malkin skating up with him and opening up for a pass. But Kunitz opts to shoot after a few dekes, a low one that Sanford easily saves.

     "#Pens Brad Thiessen makes his first NHL save. With his face."

     "Right off the mask....welcome to the league kid! #pens"


15:25: The teams seem like they're still feeling each other out and trying to find their footing. It's been pretty evenly matched so far.

Note: The Blue Jackets have registered one shot on goal so far: a blast from Derek Mackenzie that deflected off Thiessen's helmet and out of danger. Welcome to the NHL!

18:14: Thiessen nearly gets his first NHL shot, but his teammate Letang blocks it before it makes its way to the goalie.

20:00: Puck drops to start the first. Game on!

(Getty Images)

1:00 PM:
Arron Asham will be out for today's game with an upper-body injury. Pens scratch him, Lovejoy and Johnson. Pens' lines...



Thiessen between the pipes. Curtis Sanford in net for Columbus.

12:00 PM:
As promised, here's more from Bylsma on Thiessen making his NHL debut – including a great story on how the coaching staff broke the news to the young goaltender.

"Brad Thiessen is starting in his first National Hockey League game. Being a 1 o’clock game we were trying to decide the best time to tell Brad. With a 7 o’clock game we might have told him after the morning skate and let him get a good night’s sleep, let him put his head in the pillow not knowing he was going to play his first game. With the 1 o’clock start, we told Brad yesterday afternoon. It’s a good moment as a coach. You see a guy realize he’s going to play in his first National Hockey League game. Gilles Meloche told him to go home and get some sleep. Brad chuckled and said ‘We’ll see if that’s a possibility.’ Brad has won a lot of hockey games with our team in Wilkes-Barre. He’s been around our players a lot over the past 3, 4 years. He’s comfortable with our guys. It’s not like we’re seeing Brad Thiessen for the first time. He’s been around for a long time in our organization. He’s getting his first chance to play. He’s won a lot of hockey games and has had a lot of success. We’re expecting him to do what he’s done for Wilkes-Barre and our organization, which is play really strong and solid. It’ll be interesting to see how he plays the puck. He’s a guy that likes to come out and play the puck. He’s really good at it. That might be an indication early on of how comfortable he is."

Bylsma was then asked about the team giving Thiessen a lot of support by scoring goals like they did last night against Tampa. His response...

"We don’t set out planning on scoring eight goals. That certainly happens, but what we do set for is to be a tough team to play against, a real smothering team that limits the other team’s opportunities and limits their good players opportunities. That’s what we are going to be trying to do for Brad (Thiessen) tonight. Hopefully we won’t do what we did to (Marc-Andre) Fleury last night and have him stop three or four breakaways and a 2-on-1. (We'd like to) give Brad a chance to see some shots from the outside. He’s been deserving of this chance for a long time. Right now he hasn’t had it for a lot of different reasons and he’s getting it tonight."

(Getty Images)

11:30 AM:
Good morning everyone! It's a gorgeous Sunday in Pittsburgh and another great day for hockey. The Pens are preparing to host the Columbus Blue Jackets at CONSOL Energy Center to close out their third and final set of back-to-back home games. Pittsburgh routed the Lightning 8-1 here last night, led by a motivated Evgeni Malkin's ninth-career hat trick.

The big news of the day is that goalie Brad Thiessen will make his NHL debut between the pipes for Pittsburgh. Thiessen, 25, has spent the majority of the season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, posting a 20-14-2 record and 2.88 goals-against average in 37 games.

Last season the 6-foot, 180-pound netminder had a career year for WBS, winning the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s top goaltender and teaming with partner John Curry to capture the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award as the goaltending duo to allow the fewest goals in the AHL. (For more on Thiessen, click here).

Thiessen is incredibly deserving of this chance, and we're all excited for him – but I can't even imagine the nerves that he's feeling right now. Head coach Dan Bylsma touched on that during his pregame address this morning...

Here's Bylsma's pregame address in its entirety...

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