The Pens had a kind of blah weekend to say the least, losing a pair of games, but managing a point out of each. It’s not the best way to go into the long Olympic break, but, hey, it could be worse. Also on the bright side, New Jersey is skidding like nobody’s business. They’re only a point up with one game in hand. That’s by no means an insurmountable total. But it would have been nice to get that lead before the break.
The Rangers game was kind of mixed. The Pens didn’t play very well at all, but thanks to a Crosby power play goal in the third period, the game went into overtime. I had a good feeling at that point because I thought the Pens had dodged a bullet there. It’s not often you can manage even a point out of the kind of game we played, and with the Rangers struggles on offense I thought a second point was a good possibility. Well, it wasn’t because I forgot to factor in one thing: Olie Jokinen. Olie’s been tormenting the Pens since his days in Florida (14 goals and 16 assists in 24 games against the Pens). After a brief stint in the Western Conference, he was dealt to the Rangers a couple of weeks ago. I guess he’s going to pick up right where he left off. He torture the Pens by scoring a goal a minute into the overtime period. I have no idea what Pittsburgh did to you, Olie, but we’re sorry. I promise.
The pain continued on Sunday with a shootout loss to Nashville. This was exactly the opposite of the New York game two days before. The Pens played very well, but Danny Ellis had just a good enough day for the Preds. Pittsburgh came out and dominated the first period, but then was handcuffed for most of the rest of the game due to penalties. Thank goodness the penalty kill for the Pens came up big and kept Nashville to a 1 for 7 night. I really thought that when Brooks Orpik scored around the 15 minute mark in the 3rd to give the Pens a 3-2 advantage, the game was in the bag. Fleury hadn’t been playing poorly and I thought we’d stop taking chances which would dry up the penalties a bit. But that’s not what happened. With less than 10 minutes left, Shea Weber tickled the twine, and we were off to overtime. Now, I mentioned that Ellis had a big day in net for the Predators, but the OT was when he really shined. He came up with a huge save with about a minute left in the OT period, and absolutely stoned the Pens in the shootout. So, hats off to him. At least we got a point out of the deal.
I really wish the Pens had gone to the break on a high note, but I guess you have to look at the glass half full. The Pens get a long break that they badly need, and Jersey seems to be coming back to them faster than they can catch up. Both are good news. Next game isn’t until March 2nd against the Sabres.