|Tonight was the Penguins' "Live or die, man!" moment (photo from The Karate Kid Part II)|
Two years later, Lemieux won his first Lester. B Pearson trophy as the NHLPA's MVP, and Daniel LaRusso and Kesuke "Mister" Miyagi joined forces to take down Chozen Toguchi, the disowned son of Miyagi's former rival in the cleverly named "Karate Kid: Part II."
The movie is perhaps best remembered for Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love" anthem, but no matter: for our purposes, the above image of Daniel LaRusso (SPOILER ALERT!) sparing the life of Chozen is the perfect visual representation of what was at stake for both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators Tuesday night at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.
The Penguins claimed the two prior meetings between the two teams this year, winning 3-2 on December 6 and via the shootout on February 12, a 5-4 victory.
Ottawa entered the night trailing Pittsburgh by 2 points for a playoff berth, and while the Pens owned the tiebreakers should the two teams finish with the same number of points, a Penguin victory in regulation would put Sidney Crosby and company back into the post-season.
Marc-Andre Fleury would get the nod in net for Pittsburgh, while second half revelation Andrew "Hamburglar" Hammond minded the crease for Ottawa.
The Penguins would once again play without the services of Christian Ehrhoff and Kris Letang, both out indefinitely with concussions.
Ottawa played without Milan Michalek, Colin Greening and the uber pest, Chris Neil.
First Period Action:
The Penguins wasted NO TIME. Holy Mother Teresa of Cow-cutta!
|The Pens' puck mooovement was good.|
Paul Martin broke up a Senators pass at his blue line, springing Pittsburgh the other way, and Sidney Crosby extended his Art Ross trophy lead with a slapshot from the left circle to give the Pens an extremely early 1-0 lead.
The goal absolutely stunned the Ottawa crowd, and fired up the Pittsburgh bench.
Shortly after, David Perron was admonished by the coaching staff early for "trying to do too much" (™) and getting cute instead of safely sending the puck up and off the boards, but Pittsburgh escaped without incident.
David Legwand would get the Senators' first scoring chance of the night four minutes in, firing a shot from in tight against Fleury, who held the puck without a rebound.
The two teams would then squander excellent scoring chances in rapid succession, with both the Pens and Sens losing the puck while in primo shooting position.
|Speaking of Beau "Frosted Tips"Bennett, is it just|
me, or does Justin Timberlake look exactly like
Ellen Degeneres here?
Just seconds later, David Perron knocked the puck loose in the Ottawa zone and Ian Cole found a wide open Beau Bennett and GLORY BE, Beau "FROSTED TIPS" Bennett notched his first goal in 7 years (citation needed) to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead.
Kyle Turris had a wrister from the left circle that eluded Fleury, but the puck stayed out of the net. Bobby Ryan fired another shot from in close, but once again #29 was up to the task.
Maxim Lapierre was then whistled for an inadvertent (and ultimately wrong) high-sticking call, putting the Senators on the power-play with a chance to cut their deficit in half.
Erik Karlsson, the reigning Keeper of the Mullet, made Fleury earn his keep with a snapshot from the point, but even with the sustained Ottawa pressure, the Pittsburgh penalty killers held their own and kept the Senators at bay.
Blake Comeau failed to score on yet another fabulous Malkin feed, and then Malkin was denied on a subsequent rush up ice. The Senators countered the two scoring chances with some pressure of their own, but couldn't tally.
Sidney Crosby then hacked a blocked shot with his patented backhander. Hammond made a sensational stop on #87's shot, but Patric Hornqvist was on the doorstep to bury the rebound and put the Penguins up 3-0.
Crosby's assist was his second point of the tilt, giving him 83 on the season, 3 ahead of the likes of Jamie Benn, John Tavares, and Alex Ovechkin.
Noted Penguins killer Clarke MacArthur rifled a slapshot on Fleury from about 25 feet away following a Pittsburgh turnover, but Fleury was on his angle and kicked the rebound out of harm's way.
Crosby then drew a penalty for high-sticking, sending Pittsburgh onto the power-play with a chance to drop the Senators behind even further.
Unfortunately, the Pens couldn't generate much in the way of a chance against the Ottawa penalty-kill, with the only notable event being Marc Methot plastering Evgeni Malkin's face against the glass.
The Penguins outshot the Senators 12-7, but more importantly, held an all-critical 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Second Period Action:
|"Heaven" is apparently the back of the net. (photo from|
The South Park Movie: Bigger, Longer & Uncut)
Ottawa almost returned the early-goal favor, but Kyle Turris was DENIED by a Fleury glove save.
Moments later, the struggling Chris Kunitz contributed to the cause by dropping the Sens' Patrick Wiercioch with a clean open-ice hip check. The hit didn't warrant a penalty (much to the chagrin of the Ottawa faithful), but Ben Lovejoy obliged with a senseless cross-check that put Pittsburgh back on the penalty kill.
Craig Adams did his thing and blocked at least two Ottawa shots, and Ben Lovejoy got sprung on a partial breakaway as the penalty expired.
Hammond held his ground and closed off the five-hole, keeping the game at 3-0.
Kyle Turris was robbed for the third time by Fleury, this time with Turris's rising shot being gloved by the Flower from 5 feet away.
The Pens started to get penned into their own end of the ice, but unlike recent games, Pittsburgh opted for the boring clear instead of trying to make a tough springing breakout pass.
The Penguins created a 3-on-2, but after receiving a Winnik pass on the outside, Crosby was unable to find a viable passing lane and the Sens escaped without a shot on goal.
The Senators kept assailing Fleury, with Marc Methot being robbed by Fleury. Head Coach Mike Johnston opted to not call a timeout despite the obviously tilted ice, and while Pittsburgh held the 3-0 lead, the Senators could have easily tied the game with the 5 alarm scoring chances they were generating.
Crosby and Hornqvist nearly made the score 4-0 after they executed a dump & chase to perfection. Crosby peeled off from a corner retrieval, and after Hammond served up a delicious McRebound, Hornqvist pushed the rebound into his chest.
The Pens took control of play during this stretch, and David Perron took advantage of an exhausted Methot and got the Ottawa forward to take an ill-advised penalty for cross-checking, putting Pittsburgh back on the powerplay.
The Penguins' big horses got to rest up during a television timeout before stepping back onto the ice for the power-play.
|Not pictured: clenched buttocks.|
The Senators took advantage of a 2-on-2 shorthanded rush when Derrick Pouliot inadvertently kicked a Jean-Gabriel Pageau centering pass in behind Fleury to give Ottawa life and to make the deficit 3-1.
The Sens very nearly made the score 3-2 with another shorthanded goal, only Fleury made a tremendous save on a point-blank wrister in the slot.
Malkin would then draw a tripping call and put the Penguins back onto the power-play. Unfortunately, Pittsburgh's apparent thinking that 100 passes = 1 goal wasn't honored by the Ottawa PK, and the score remained 3-1 as both the penalty and the second period ended.
Pouliot was hurt late in the second, and was unable to return, meaning the Penguins would once again be playing hockey with only 5 defensemen.
Ottawa outshot the Penguins 16-13 in the second stanza, and the dreaded shortie made the lead back into the feared two-goal variety.
Third Period Action:
|Thank you, cats, for speaking on|
behalf of Penguins' fans everywhere.
The Penguins escaped the early moments of the second period without any damage, but that was not the case in the third period.
After Daniel Winnik failed to corral a Sidney Crosby centering pass, Mark Stone collected his 23rd goal of the season by firing a wrist shot from the slot past Marc-Andre Fleury.
The early goal meant that the Penguins had to nurse a one goal lead for nearly an entire period if they were to clinch a playoff berth.
The Senators nearly scored again when...well, there were multiple chances for Ottawa to tie it. In the midst of everything, Winnik was obliterated in the middle of the ice (he was caught looking the wrong way), but Fleury gloved and held the ensuing shot on goal to give Pittsburgh a breather.
Taylor Chorney rung a slapshot off the post at the 13:40 mark, eliciting a loud groan from the Tire Centre faithful.
Pittsburgh resumed control of play for a bit, but Ottawa came back and nearly capitalized on an overzealous and offensively minded Pens lineup, but the oddman pass went astray and the puck was eventually cleared.
Minute later, Ottawa would once again give Pittsburgh a chance to close out the game when Erik Condra took a high-sticking penalty against Paul Martin.
Sidney Crosby was then felled by a nut-shot by Eric Gryba. but the Penguins' captain was able to remain out on the ice.
Mark Stone nearly scored to tie it when his shorthanded rush was pushed aside by Fleury, keeping the game at 3-2.
Stone continued to be the most dangerous Ottawa player on the ice, creating another scoring chance that was blocked away. The Senators would keep the Pens stuck in their own end, interrupted only when Beau Bennett skated up the right side of the ice and created his own backhanded scoring chance that would ultimately fly wide.
The Pens got lucky when a centering pass skipped over the poke-check of Marc-Andre Fleury, only to get caught up in the Penguin netinder's padding.
With 2:30 left, Pittsburgh was clearly shortening their shifts to try and stay fresh, a tactic that proved valuable when the Pens were guilty of icing with two minutes left.
With the puck set to be dropped by Marc-Andre Fleury and with their team down a goal, Ottawa opted to pull their goalie and take a timeout to allow the Sens' horses a chance to rest up.
...and then Mike Hoffman of the Senators scored from the high slot to tie the game.
Seriously, there are no words. Actually, there are plenty of words, but all of them are four letters long and...
...and then the Penguins took a "Too Many Men on the Ice" penalty with 28 seconds left, BECAUSE THAT'S HOW THIS TEAM ROLLS, YO.
The Senators nearly won it, but a sprawling Fleury kept the Pens even at 3 as regulation ended.
Period stats: Ottawa goals (2), my heart attacks (5)
The Penguins were saved by Fleury's bacon twice in the early overtime, and Pittsburgh escaped the penalty kill situation with a chance to still salvage the extra point.
That point would loom large when Mark Stone, the best player on the ice all evening, ended the contest with a blistering wrist shot to give Ottawa the 4-3 win and keep the Penguins from clinching.
I truly wish I had something positive to say, but this is a Pittsburgh Penguins team that doesn't know how to close out games, and doesn't know how to win. They are what they thought they were.
Final score: Ottawa 4, Pittsburgh 3.