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2:06 (ET): Welcome to Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Rangers vs. Penguins. This is a must win for the Rangers.
2:11: NBC gives us a shot from each locker room of the goalies getting dressed. Henrik Lundqvist looks pretty badass. Marc-Andre Fleury is wearing a camouflage hat that says “French” on it. Not exactly intimidating. Let’s just say the French army isn’t known for it’s toughness.
2:15: We’re treated to a rinkside interview with Sidney Crosby, whose playoff beard looks like its being grown by an 8th grader who hasn’t learned how to shave yet. It’s too bad NBC doesn’t have Erin Andrews on hand for this game because we might have seen Sidney ask her to the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. Sidney has nothing interesting to say although he seems a little more tense than you’d like to see if you were a Penguins fan. Milbury says, “Sidney is absolutely riveted on this game. Focus doesn’t do it justice.” Thanks for that insight Mike. Now go into the stands and beat some spectators with a shoe. [http://youtube.com/watch?v=Q8K7roZu3WU]
2:20: Sidney Crosby turns the puck over and Dubinsky comes within a hair of stuffing in the rebound off a Marc Staal slapshot. Good start for the Rangers.
2:21: Dawes almost scores on Fleury with a bad-angle wrister. Fleury had no idea where the puck was and Callahan almost stuffs it in. Sounds like the Penguins crowd just had the wind knocked out of them, but it’s still early.
2:23: Penguins have had great pressure for over a minute and the crowd is back into it. Strudwick looks completely lost. Shanahan looks a step slow. The Rangers get a line change, and now the ice is tilted the other way. Straka has a chance but passes up on a shot, of course.
2:25: Eddie Olczyk just said reach-around. Nice.
2:30: Jagr gets called for a hook. Pretty soft call. Mike Emrick seemed surprised to see the whistle blow. Here comes the Penguins dangerous power play.
2:32: From behind the net, Ryan Malone walks right past Marc Staal and gets a great scoring chance. Staal has to do a better job preventing access to the front of the net.
2:35: Lauri Korpikoski makes his much-awaited debut on the ice and within 10 seconds rips a hard slapshot on net. I like this kid already.
2:37: A soft pass from Nigel Dawes is misplayed by Scott Gomez off his own skate. Is it me or does Gomez look a little out-of-sorts these last few games?
2:39: Milbury interviews Pens coach Michel Therrien, who says he’s going to make sure his team crashes the net hard on Lundqvist. Wasn’t he complaining about net-crashing earlier in the series?
By the way, I’m amazed at how much Michel Therrien looks like Martin Freeman (the guy from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). Freeman also played an outstanding role in the classic film, Ali G Indahouse. [http://img273.imageshack.us/img273/553/wiggasmartinfreeman0um.jpg]
2:40: It seems the Rangers have figured out in Games 4 and 5 that they eed to cog up the middle on these Penguins.
2:41: Jagr has a nice chance to shoot from the high slot. He chooses to take the puck wide and throw it across the middle instead.
2:42: Jagr draws a holding penalty from Jarkko Ruutu. Here comes a Rangers power play.
2:44: Power play over. Rangers couldn’t get anything going. In fact, the best scoring chance of the power play was Evgeni Malkin shorthanded.
2:48: Fleury just blatantly played the puck outside the trapezoid. No call.
2:49: Rangers get another power play chance after Malkin drills Jagr about 20 feet away from the puck.
2:52: Another power play and the Rangers can’t get anything going until the final seconds, but they keep the momentum going after the power play and get a few chances. Nigel Dawes beat Fleury but the puck rolled up on his stick and he shot it wide. The puck is bouncing all over the place. For an igloo, they sure seem to have trouble keeping the ice cold.
2:53: The period ends and the Rangers take the momentum into the locker room.
3:11: Here we go with the 2nd period.
3:12: Whoa. Crosby sets up Hossa with what seems like a lifetime to shoot, but thanks to the puck seems to get caught.
3:13: The Penguins come down on another chance, and after making a nice play in front of the net, Chris Drury catches a nasty high stick from Ryan Malone. No call. Lucky break for the Penguins. That could and should have been a 4-minute penalty. Drury’s probably going to need stitches, but he should be back. Don’t you love hockey? If this was basketball, he would be out for the rest of the series.
3:14: NBC treats us to the lovely camera close-up of the crew at the Igloo scraping Chris Drury’s frozen blood off the ice.
3:17: A few more chances from the Penguins, a few nice saves from Henrik Lundqvist, and one shot missed just wide.
3:18: Ryan Malone, who should be sitting in the penalty box for a high-stick, just drew a soft penalty on Jagr. Penguins power play.
3:20: The Rangers manage to kill the penalty and even get a nice shorthanded chance. Tyutin looks to pass first and gives Hossa a chance to backcheck before he can shoot the puck.
3:22: What happened to shooting the puck, screening the goalie, and crashing the net for rebounds? How many shots are the Rangers going to pass up on?
3:24: Malkin comes in on a semi-breakaway and Rozsival can’t take the puck away despite about 12 hacks at his skates. Eventually Malkin falls and a penalty is called.
3:26: Do you think Mike Emrick sits there in the booth with a thesaurus?
3:27: Rangers miss a good clearing chance after Hossa makes a diving play at the blue line. Then, the Rangers don’t even sniff the puck for about 12 passes including a perfect cross-ice pass from Malone to Hossa. Hossa buries it in the back of the net. 1-0 Penguins.
3:28: Within 10 seconds of the goal, Rozsival is back on the ice and takes another penalty.
3:30: The Rangers look exhausted. Can’t clear. I think the Penguins are going to score again.
3:31: Unbelievable pad save from Lundqvist after Staal sets up Roberts all alone in the crease. That’s a game saver. The Rangers can’t go down 2 goals. Penalty is killed, and we’re in commercial break. Hopefully the Rangers can catch their breath here.
3:33: My Snapple cap says “Seals sleep only one and a half minutes at a time.”
3:34: So much for catching their breath. The Penguins come out of the timeout and almost score. After hitting a post, the Penguins keep possession and force Lundqvist to make another ridiculous save; this time with the left pad. Awesome save.
3:35: Milbury mentions that the turning point was when Malone cup open Drury’s face and no penalty was called. That’s actually a decent point from Milbury. Instead of going on a 4-minute power play, the Rangers had to go on a penalty kill.
3:36: Evgeni Malkin makes Paul Mara look like an amateur as Marc Staal watches. Malkin pushes Mara aside, and unleashes a deadly accurate backhander top shelf to beat Lundqvist. 2-0 Penguins.
3:38: Just took a quick bathroom break, and on my way I smacked my desk lamp. I think I broke it.
3:39: Rangers are on the power play, but look completely inept.
3:41: No shots on goal during the power play.
3:42: Here comes another Rangers power play after the commercial break. But, really, how much hope do you have for this power play. The difference between the power plays is like night and day. The Penguins are fluid and dynamic on the power play, circling the puck in a set-up that kind of reminds me of the basketball motion offense. It makes it very hard to defend. The Rangers, on the other hand, are completely static in their positioning, and make it incredibly easy for the opposing defenders to defend the passing lanes and shooting lanes.
3:44: So, apparently there is no power play. Eddie Olczyk is shocked. Shocked! That there was a whistle.
3:45: Michael Rozsival checks Gary Roberts in front of the net, which apparently is now illegal in the NHL. You are no longer allowed to check the guy with the puck if he is wearing a Penguins jersey. Eddie Olczyk says, “Gary Roberts does a good job of selling this call.”
3:47: This is domination. The Rangers can’t clear the puck until more than a minute of power play expires. If not for Lundqvist (and the crossbar) coming up huge, it would be 3-0 right now.
3:49: The Rangers have a 3-on-2 rush. Straka sets up Jagr perfectly in the high slot as Rozsival goes to the net for a screen. Pop quiz. Does Jagr: (a) Shoot the puck on net through the screen, (b) make a sweet pass back to Straka for a one-timer, or (c) skate feebly forward trying to make a nifty move but gets stuffed by Ryan Whitney. If you guessed C, you know your Rangers.
3:51: The Rangers escape the 2nd period down 2-0. Penguins had 17 shots in the period to the Rangers 4. I don’t see how the Rangers can possibly pull this one out. The Rangers defense looks completely overmatched, and if they play the 3rd period the same way the played the 2nd, this might end up being a blowout.
3:57: After fielding angry phone calls from 3 different people, I randomly check the box score and notice that the Penguins have outshot the Rangers 27-11 in this game. 27-11!!!
3:59: Just thinking to myself: how many times have I written so far today that the Rangers have passed up on a good shooting opportunity? This is frustrating.
4:02: Apparently Mike Myers is banking on his Canadian-ness to attract hockey fans to his new movie. Is it me or did Mike Myers peak as a comedian about 10 years ago? I might just be in a bad mood because of the way this game is going, but that movie does not look funny at all.
4:03: Despite what seems like 25 scoring chances on 5 power plays, the Penguins only have 1 power play goal. I guess that’s good.
4:06: Welcome back to the 3rd period. Mike Emrick has just informed us that the Rangers went the last 14:50 of the 2nd period without a shot on goal. Sweet!
4:07: Let me try to give you the play-by-play on this one. Rozsival tries to takes the puck from Jordan Staal. One-Mississippi, two-Mississippi… Jordan Staal falls down. Milbury says, “That looked like a dive to me.”
4:08: Rangers get a shot on goal at 18:38. It’s their first in more than 16 minutes of hockey. Ridiculous.
4:09: GOAL! Lauri Korpikoski rips a shot over Fleury’s glove. It might have deflected off Whitney, but a goal is a goal. Note to Rangers: THAT IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SHOOT THE PUCK. TRY IT. YOU MIGHT LIKE IT! 2-1 Penguins.
4:10: Looks like the Rangers got the memo. They’ve come alive and are ripping shots on goal as soon as they have the opportunity.
4:11: GOAL! Scotty Gomez hits Nigel Dawes with a sweet pass in front of the net and he buries it. It might have gone in off Callahan. Beautiful play all-around. Tie game: 2-2.
4:13: Penguins controlling. Ridiculous save by Henke with the left pad on Hossa. I have no idea how that didn’t go in. What a game this has become! Nice play by Jagr to help clear the zone.
4:14: Scotty Gomez is absolutely flying out there. Where has this been?
4:15: I knew it wouldn’t last. Callahan passes up on a shooting chance. SHOOT THE PUCK when you have it alone in the high slot!!!
4:16: As Prucha forces Fleury to make a nice save, Milbury updates us on the condition of the Penguins bench. They are apparently “stunned.” Somehow, I think that’s an overstatement. This game is far from over.
4:17: The Rangers have no answer for Malkin. He is absolutely scary. Then, coming the other way, Straka’s stick is slashed out of his hands. No call. Straka turns around and starts chirping at the ref, which almost turns into an odd-man rush for the Pens. Luckily, Martin Straka’s broken stick makes a nice play blocking a pass. I think that’s the first time Straka’s stick has ever done that.
4:18: Long time with no whistle. Were going to get 2 commercial breaks in short succession.
4:25: Whew… finally caught my breath. Fleury makes a mistake and plays the puck in front of the goal line. It would have been icing on the Rangers but now the Rangers have possession.
4:29: The Penguins seem to have recovered from the initial stomach punch of the Rangers two quick goals. Big time puck possession now going on for about a minute, nice bad-angle save by Lundqvist and the Rangers go the other way.
4:30: Tyuts almost scores after a nice play by Korpikoski to set it up. Korpikoski is getting some serious ice time with the scoring lines. I haven’t seen much of Hollweg at all.
4:31: The refs wave off an icing because Orpik intentionally didn’t play the puck. Good call.
4:32: Drury puts the puck on net and Dawes goes barreling into Fleury looking for the rebound. The Penguins go the other way and Lundqvist vacuums up a wrist shot.
4:44: A wildly bouncing puck almost gets past Fleury. Wow that was close. If the Rangers had been crashing the net there they would have had a juicy rebound into a wide-open net. Instead, the Penguins were able to clear it easily.
4:36: After the puck squirts through Lundqvist’s legs and somehow, miraculously, doesn’t go in to the net, Drury takes a penalty with 1:18 left
4:37: It’s a double-minor! Are you serious? That’s just not fair. Drury took a brutal high-stick earlier with no call. Now he gets a double-minor for high sticking. Where is the justice?
4:38: Wow. Sidney Crosby is set up beautifully from behind the net and rips a one-timer just wide. And I mean just side. Doesn’t get much closer than that. We’re going to OT and the Penguins are going to start the extra frame with a power play for 2:41.
4:40: I just rewound and watched that Crosby play again. I think Lundqvist got a piece of it with his glove. Awesome save.
4:50: Waiting for the OT to start… I can’t describe how worried I am about this power play the Penguins have to start the OT. I might have a heart attack.
4:52: Here we go with Overtime. Penguins start this overtime with a clean sheet of ice and a power play. My heart is pounding as if I was wearing the goalie pads.
4:54: Wow. Two awesome saves by Lundqvist. The first one on a point blank shot from the slot. The second a glove save through a screen. Rangers need to do a better job clearing the puck.
4:55: Shorthanded 2 on 1. Beautiful lead pass to Staal. But he tries to feather one back to Straka. Hey Staal: SHOOT THE PUCK
4:57: Another big time save from Lundqvist, and the Rangers have killed the penalty.
4:58: The Penguins are on the doorstep. This is really scary. Great job by Lundqvist to cover the puck for a much needed whistle.
5:00: It feels like the Rangers still haven’t recovered from the penalty kill and the Pens are really keeping great pressure on.
5:02: The Penguins seem to have no problem getting it deep in the Rangers zone. The Rangers, on the other hand, can’t seem to sustain any pressure.
5:03: Penguins goal. Series over.
5:04: Girardi could have done a little more to stop that pass. As it is, he barely redirected it right to Hossa. Valiant effort by the Rangers. A herculean effort by Henrik Lundqvist comes up short.
5:07: That’s the season. We’ll be back later with a recap.