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Pens-Wild (Preseason) In-Game Blog

Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 12:45 PM / Features
By Michelle Crechiolo
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Pens-Wild (Preseason) In-Game Blog


THREE STARS:
1. EVGENI MALKIN (1G-2A)
2. JOSEPH MORROW (1G-1A)
3. KRIS LETANG (2A)


0:00: That's game! Pens top Wild 4-1 on the strength of four PP goals (Morrow, Dupuis, Strait, Malkin). They also finished 9-for-9 on the PK. Special teams were the story of today's game.

1:37: Thiessen takes his time and makes a perfect breakout pass up the middle of the ice. N. Johnson gets some space down in the Wild zone on the play but his shot goes up and over the net.

4:36: Pens now a perfect 9-for-9 on the PK today. Impressive.

6:36: Park gets his third minor of the game, this time for hooking. Wild gets their 9th PP opportunity of the day.



9:39: Pens PK now a perfect 8-for-8 on the night. Beautiful.

11:39: Pens head to the PK as Cooke gets a pair for tripping.

12:37: After Geno hits the post, Eric Nystrom and Colton Gillies grab the puck and head down the ice on a 2-on-1 rush (after they had collided at mid-ice seconds earlier). Nystrom sends a bomb past Thiessen to break the goose egg. Pens 4, Wild 1

14:59: Anddd just like that, Pens score! Malkin wins the faceoff back to Morrow, who immediately sends it over to D partner Letang. Tanger's shot deflects off a Wild player right to Geno in the slot. He sends it right to the cage for the score. Pens 4, Wild 0

15:03: Peters back in the box for his third penalty of the game, this time for boarding. Pens back on the PP!



16:05: Wild back to full strength -- Ortmeyer got a breakaway chance out of the box, but couldn't convert.

17:02: A little while ago, Morrow wound up and sent a heavy slapper to the cage that was blocked by Justin Falk. Falk blocked it but paid a price, as he had to go to the locker room right after.

18:07: Nice movement at the top of the Pens' formation by Letang, Morrow and Malkin that results in some traffic in front of Backstrom and a stoppage in play.

18:43: Pens get an early PP opportunity as Jed Ortmeyer gets two for tripping Malkin. Hoping to score their fourth man-advantage tally of the afternoon!

20:00: The final frame of the "Free Game for Kids" starts now!

THIRD PERIOD



SECOND PERIOD NOTES
- Malkin has two assists
- Morrow's goal was his first NHL tally
- Pens are 3-for-4 on the PP while Minnesota is 0-for-7
- Vitale is 7-of-12 on faceoffs for a 58-percent success rate

0:00: First 40 minutes in the books. Pens lead 3-0 after goals this period from Morrow, Dupuis and Strait. They're 3-for-4 on the PP while Wild are 0-for-7. Shots 20-7 in Pittsburgh's favor.

1:48: And Pitt is now back to full strength!

2:02: N. Johnson is released and there's just 12 seconds left on the Strait penalty!

3:50: Twelve seconds into a N. Johnson unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Strait gets two for slashing. Wild with a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:48. Cooke, Vitale and Michalek the first three out for the Pens.



6:10: Vitale with a clean win off the draw right back to Strait, whose bullet finds its way into the cage past an N. Johnson screen! That was a 4-on-4 goal. Pens 3, Wild 0

6:16: With 8 seconds left on the Pens' PP, Letang gets tripped going to the net by Falk. Both players are going to the box, however, as 58 got two for diving even though he was simultaneously tripped/slashed on the play.

8:03: Malkin softly drops a beautiful between-the-legs feed to a waiting Dupuis, who tees off an absolute scorcher past Backstrom! And to top it off, the Pens stay on the PP! Pens 2, Wild 0

8:58: Pens still have three minutes left on the PP as Scandella got an instigator penalty in addition to his five-minute fighting major and 10-minute misconduct. As I typed that, Letang hit his second post of the afternoon. He's so close!





9:26: On a 5-on-3 situation, Malkin sends a pass to the point to Kris Letang. Since Letang and D partner Morrow aren't in good position for one-timers, they pull a little switch-a-roo on the blueline. Letang gives Morrow the puck on a silver platter and he blasts it past Backstrom into the cage. First NHL goal for the 18-year-old Morrow!!! Pens 1, Wild 0

9:58: Marco Scandella challenges Tangradi to drop the immediately after the Pens forward lays out Matt Cullen in front of the Wild bench. After they tangle, both players head to the box. Clean hit by Tango on that play.

10:33: Pens get their second PP of the day as Peters trips Letang.

11:28: The box clears as Dupuis is out and we're back to full strength!

12:24: MacIntyre is released and it's back to 5-on-4!

13:07: Cooke, Vitale and Michalek are the first three out for Pitt.





13:28: Now Wild is going to a 5-on-3 advantage for a 1:04 as Dupuis gets two for slashing. Mike Yeo is using his timeout to work on his strategy.

14:24: Wild heads to their fifth PP of the night as MacIntyre goes to the box for boarding.

14:28: Thiessen is getting some work over this last little bit! He just robbed Pierre-Marc Bouchard point blank with a pad stop on the doorstep after the Wild had a few other quality scoring chances.

15:31: Crushing hit on the boards by Steve MacIntyre on Jarod Palmer!

18:54: Malkin carries down the right side of the ice and drops a no-look pass to Letang, who rips a shot at Backstrom. Nice work by Geno to take the puck the length of the ice.

20:00: Puck drops. Game on!

SECOND PERIOD



FIRST PERIOD NOTES
- McDonald paces the Pens with three shots
- Strait has three hits
- Morrow once again looks impressive -- very poised with the puck and has made a few long, heads-up breakout passes
- Thiessen has shown a couple times how confident he is playing the puck behind the net

0:00: That'll do it for the first. We're scoreless here in Pittsburgh with the Pens outshooting the Wild 12-5 despite four PP opportunities for Minnesota.

1:09: Wild back to full strength in a special teams filled period.

1:32: Pens controlling play in Minnesota's zone...they've gotten a few decent chances!

3:09: Now it's Pittsburgh's turn to go on the PP. Warren Peters gets two for interference. We're on the Power Ball Power Play!

3:51: Another strong kill by the Pens as Park is released.





5:09: Craig, Dupuis, Niskanen and Picard are the first four on the ice for Pittsburgh.

5:52: Aaaand I spoke too soon. Pittsburgh's PK is certainly getting some work today as Park heads back to the box for holding. That's three PKs in the first for the Pens

6:50: Pens back to full strength!

8:50: Tempers flare after Cooke lays a Wild player out on the boards. Both teams come together and once the dust settles, Cooke gets two for boarding. Pens back to the PK.

9:39: Pens back to full strength!!!

10:16: Now we've got a 5-on-4 play -- Wild PP -- for another 30 seconds.



11:39: Now we're going to 4-on-3 -- advantage: Minnesota -- after Kunitz gets a pair for tripping. Cooke, Craig and Michalek are the Pens' first trio.

12:16: Another strong shift by the Dupuis-Park-Cooke line before Park gets whistled for tripping. But on the delayed whistle, the Wild are caught with too many men on the ice. We're going to 4-on-4 hockey!

14:22: Tangradi goes to the net and gets a couple of cracks on the doorstep but can't quite get a handle on the second rebound!

15:19: Strait and MacIntrye both lose their sticks in a battle on the boards with Matt Cullen. Cullen dishes to a cutting Clayton Stoner on the back door, whose shot deflects off Thiessen's blocker (who had to make a quick sliding save) and hits the post. The Pens look a little discombobulated right now, so Bylsma elects to use his timeout early.





17:10: Huge shift just now by the Dupuis-Park-Cooke line. Cycling like it's their J-O-B (which I guess technically it is).

18:26: McDonald drops to the point to cover for Letang and he gets a drop pass from a teammate. McDonald quickly unleashes a one-timer at Backstrom that the Wild goalie gets a piece of.

19:33: Brian Strait gains early entry into Minnesota's zone by carrying the puck deep and giving his teammates time to get set up. Love the ability of all Pens D-men to skate with the puck.

20:00: After a national anthem performance by the Pittsburgh Children's Festival Chorus, we're ready to start! It's a great day for hockey -- game on!

FIRST PERIOD



3:00 PM:
Here are the Pens' line combos for this afternoon:

Kunitz-Malkin-McDonald
Dupuis-Park-Cooke
MacIntyre-Vitale-Asham
Tangradi-Craig-N. Johnson

Morrow-Letang
Picard-Niskanen
Strait-Michalek

Thiessen in goal. Niklas Backstrom is between the pipes for Minnesota.

The Wild head into today's game on a 3-0 preseason win streak, led by head coach Mike Yeo, former Penguins and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton assistant coach. Meanwhile, the Pens are attempting to finish the preseason with a perfect 3-0 home record for the second consecutive season. Pittsburgh is a perfect 5-0 all-time in exhibition games at CONSOL Energy Center. The Pens have not lost a preseason game at home since suffering a 4-3 setback to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sept. 18, 2009 at Mellon Arena.



1:43 PM:
Here's the full transcript of coach Bylsma's comments. Of note is that Brad Thiessen, the 2010-11 American Hockey League's Most Outstanding Goaltender with WBS, will play the entire game this afternoon for Pittsburgh.

On the “Free Game for Kids” at CONSOL Energy Center:
The pitch of the crowd is definitely a lot different than a regular season crowd or an adult crowd. But it’s usually high energy and it’s usually high energy the whole game. It doesn’t have a lot to do with the play on the ice sometimes. There’s going to be a lot of energy in the building. My son’s team is going to be in the building. A lot of kids are going to be in the building – a lot of area kids – so it’s a good game for us and a chance for them to see the Penguins.

On facing former WBS and Penguins assistant coach and current Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo:
I got a chance to see Mike this morning. I talked to Mike a handful of times the past month or so as we’ve both gotten ready for the season. It’s going to be a little odd looking over at the other bench and seeing Mike on that bench. I’m real happy for him, real happy for his opportunity. At the same time, he’s on the other bench now. It’s going to be a little odd seeing that.

On Sidney Crosby’s status:
There’s no change in Sid’s status at this point in time. That’s a doctor thing. I don’t know what to prescribe. I think there’s a confidence level that you gain playing some physical contact drills and some things in the corner, and I think you gain that confidence. There’s another level of that when you take a hit, you take heavy contact, and there’s a whole other confidence level when you get in the game. Any time a player’s coming back from an injury, that first game – it’s a different level then you can simulate even in practice. Confidence is something that will come as he progresses to the different levels. We’re talking about something that we don’t have a timetable for right now.

On what he is looking forward to in the next exhibition games:
I think the next two games, which we're entering here with Minnesota and then to LA, is a little more of a continuation of the team concepts that we are looking to build. Pretty much every day for the next part of training camp and over the next three days, we'll still be introducing stuff to our team. A lot of that is getting a couple of men into practice and into the game. So games three and four will be a continuation of that. Some players played their first NHL exhibition games in games one and two, and now we're starting to distribute some of the games and some of the opportunities to play for the players that are competing for spots in this organization. We'll see more of that in the third and fourth games coming up. We'll get to games five and six and we'll be looking to have implemented our game and be closer to our game than last year.

On Joe Morrow and Brad Thiessen:
I'm looking forward to seeing Joe in his second game. He's been playing extremely well. It’s probably the best he's looked on the ice was in that game with Kris Letang, so he's going to get that opportunity now also. Brad Thiessen is going to get the whole game tonight. Brad is a guy that's done exceptional in the organization over the last two years in Wilkes-Barre. He's got the opportunity here and we need to see him play some hockey games. So we’ll look to the whole game tonight and we're looking forward to seeing Brad.

On Brad Thiessen getting a chance to play in the NHL:
I think it would be a frustrating position to be in. Being a goaltender is a little bit different in the National Hockey League than other positions. It’s evident how hard it is to break into this league. Marc-Andre Fleury is, will be, has been our No. 1 goalie and Brent Johnson has been a very capable veteran and back-up. It's tough to get by that unless there's an injury and we didn't have that last year. Brad has not gotten that opportunity to get games even though his play in the American Hockey League would say that he is one of the best goaltenders down there in the last two years. He will get a chance eventually and today he's going to get a full game. That's the reason we wanted to give him a full game because we want to see him play in a game up here and the best opportunity is right now.



Assists: Justin Criado and Kaitlin Zurawsky



12:45 PM:
Head coach Dan Bylsma will be giving some pregame comments to the media at 1 p.m. We'll keep you posted on what he has to say.



12:30 PM:
Hello everyone! It's an absolutely gorgeous afternoon for hockey here in Pittsburgh as it's 67 degrees and sunny outside. The Penguins are gearing up to take on the Minnesota Wild here at CONSOL Energy Center at 3 p.m., which is the second annual "Free Game for Kids."

Approximately 18,000 tickets to this afternoon’s game have been distributed to kids aged 5-21 in an effort to reach out to them, to thank them – and to expose some of them to Penguins hockey in-person for the first time for many.

Most tickets were distributed by the Penguins to local youth hockey organizations, the Tickets For Kids Foundation, Hill District youth, and members of the TGI Friday’s Penguins Kids Club. Members of the Penguins’ American Eagle Student Rush mobile club also received information to obtain tickets.

It should be a great atmosphere at the arena today. Click here for more information on this unique promotion.

And without further ado, here are the rosters for both teams. (Remember the Pens reduced their roster by three more on Saturday after re-assigning 13 players on Thursday, so there's now a total of 13 defensemen, 22 forwards and four goalies here at training camp).

Pittsburgh Penguins

Goaltenders
30 Scott Munroe
39 Brad Thiessen

Defense
2 Matt Niskanen
4 Zbynek Michalek
37 Brian Strait
54 Alexandre Picard
58 Kris Letang
70 Joseph Morrow

Forwards
9 Pascal Dupuis
12 Richard Park
14 Chris Kunitz
23 Ryan Craig
24 Matt Cooke
25 Eric Tangradi
28 Nick Johnson
33 Steve MacIntyre
38 Colin McDonald
45 Arron Asham
46 Joe Vitale
71 Evgeni Malkin

Minnesota Wild

Goaltenders
30 Dennis Endras
32 Niklas Backstrom

Defense
4 Clayton Stoner
6 Marco Scandella
25 Jordan Henry
44 Justin Falk
46 Jared Spurgeon
51 Jeff Penner
59 Kris Fredheim

Forwards
7 Matt Cullen
17 Casey Wellman
18 Colton Gillie
19 Jeff Taffe
23 Eric Nystrom
29 Jon Disalvatore
41 Jed Ortmeyer
43 Warren Peters
45 Carson McMillan
48 Guillaume Latendresse
54 Brett Bulmer
78 Jarod Palmer
96 Pierre-Marc Bouchard
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