You hate to call a game where the best of seven series is tied 1-1 a must win, especially in the first round. But that’s what last night was for the Pittsburgh Penguins. After a gem of a Game 1 by Marc Andre Fleury, the Pens collapsed in Game 2, losing 5-1 and looking terrible in doing so. Tampa Bay seized all of the momentum and they were playing Game 3 on their turf. The Pens needed to respond by being physical, putting goals up early, and staying off the penalty kill. They did two of those three things, and the one they didn’t (putting Tampa Bay on the power play) almost did them in.
The Pens opened up the scoring early with Max Talbot and Arron Asham scoring just minutes apart to stake Pittsburgh to a 2-0. That would hold up until the Lightning were the beneficiaries of an atrocious penalty called on Alexei Kovalev for goaltender interference when in reality it was the defenseman who checked him into the goalie. Martin St. Louis scored in the waning seconds of the powerplay to cut the lead in half.
In the third, the Bolts again went on the man advantage after a questionable interference call on Paul Martin. Once again, St. Louis came down from his position on the point, corralled the puck with his skate and buried it between the pad and glow of a sprawling Fleury. The Pens needed to answer quickly, and just 31 seconds later, with Tampa Bay goalie Dwayne Roloson looking for the puck between his legs, Tyler Kennedy scooped it out from right in front of him and put it home. Pens win, 3-2 and take a 2-1 series lead.
Last night was a huge win, not just for the fact that the Pens did win, but because they got some of their swagger back. Kris Letang (first picture above) had one of the worst games I’ve seen him play in the loss last Friday, but looked very solid last night and earned the #1 Star of the game. Brooks Orpik (second picture above), known for his physical play, was back at it last night, sending players all over the ice. Game 4 is Wednesday night, and I think the Pens will be ready.
What a great way to close out the regular season at home last night at CONSOL Energy Center for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens put up four goals on former Penguin netminder and current New Jersey backup goalie Johan “The Moose” Hedberg to move one step closer to clinching home ice for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The start of the game was a little shaky, as the Pens were trying to break the 1-3-1 trap that the Devils play, but once they got in the groove, they owned the ice, picking up goals Jordan Staal, Chris Kunitz on a great feed by Tyler Kennedy and two from Pascal Dupuis, one being an empty netter with time expiring in the game during a Devils powerplay.
There is something magical about playoff sports, well at least for playoff hockey. I’ve never been to a Pittsburgh Pirates playoff game and only one Pittsburgh Steelers playoff game when I was younger, so playoff hockey is really the only playoff action I know. Don’t get me wrong, the regular is awesome, especially against rivals like the Flyers and Capitals. But everyone just seems to cheer a little bit louder, the players skate harder, and there is just a buzz that resonates throughout the entire building.
Very few times will you see someone sitting back in their seat, casually watching the action. No, everyone is hanging on the edge, just waiting for that big goal to be scored by a superstar like Sidney Crosby or Jordan Staal, a talented young star like Mark Letestu or Chris Conner, or a grinding role player who is ever so important to the team like Craig Adams (pictured in the first shot above) or Max Talbot. Playoff hockey is about watching Marc Andre Fleury make an unbelievable save to bail out a defenseman and keep the game close or seeing Brooks Orpik or Deryk Engelland flatten someone into the boards so hard you need a spatula to get them off. I can’t wait.
Today’s shot keeps with the theme of the post as it is the exterior of CONSOL Energy Center. While the new home of the Pens doesn’t quite have the character of the old Civic Arena, it still as its own mystique, especially early in the morning with the sun rising. I took this one a few months back during an early morning photowalk around downtown Pittsburgh. This is the lower gate of the arena, the American Eagle Gate, located on 5th Avenue. I thought that it was so cool how you can see reflections on the left side of the glass on the building, but in the front you can actually see right through into the stairwell that ascends to the seating level.
This is a nine exposure HDR processed in HDR Efex under the “Clean” HDR method. After fixing some of the dust spot, I masked in the entire blue sky, because I wanted it to be rich and contrast nicely with the warm look of the building. I also added blue and red layer curve adjustments to bring out some contrast in the sky and building, and a slight selective coloring layer to enhance the sun. Finally I added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex and sent it off the blog.
Thanks to everyone who stops by, see y’all tomorrow.