Home > NFL, NHL, Penguins, Pirates > Pens and Steelers Combine for 1.5 Victories

Pens and Steelers Combine for 1.5 Victories

The Penguins got no favors from the NHL schedule-makers to open this season. Three road games on the west coast, all of which were home openers, the third of which the second night of a back-to-back against a young, super fast Edmonton Oilers team. For the first time in this young season, the Pens were unable to pull out a victory last night, but still managed to pick up a point in a 2-1 shootout loss.

Maybe I should put it another way. I’m not sure they “managed to pick up a point” as much as they managed to squander a point by – stop me if you’ve heard this one before – not capitalizing on power play opportunities.

The Pens had eight power play chances, including a five-minute man advantage coming at the 4:25 mark of the third period, and the converted on only one of them. To be fair this was yet another game without Crosby and Malkin (who participated in the pregame skate but sat out with a lower-body injury) which put the offense at a clear disadvantage. Nevertheless the Penguins had more than enough skill on the ice against an inexperienced Oilers team and they had ample opportunity to win a game that needed just one more goal. They just couldn’t convert.

It’s especially a shame when you consider how incredibly well Brent Johnson played. Yesterday was the first of 15 back-to-back games the Pens will play this season, and it is likely that Johnson will always start one of the two back-to-back games. That the Penguins have a backup as solid as Johnson means they can be competitive in every single game. Many teams experience a significant dropoff in goaltending quality when forced to start a backup. I’m not trying to say that Johnson is as good as Fleury, but last night, on a night where the team in front of him was clearly exhausted, Johnson stood erect (couldn’t help myself) and delivered an outstanding performance.

And because this is my current pet-peeve with this team I have to mention that they allowed another goal in the third period that, for the second time in three games, forced overtime. The Pens have been outscored 4-0 in the third period so far this season. They got away with it in Vancouver, but last night it cost them a point.

That said, I’m not going to complain about five points out of a possible six on a three-game western Canada road trip to open the season. Great start to 2011. Pens home opener is tomorrow night against the Panthers.

****

The Steelers, on the other hand, did just about everything right. 174 rushing yards to Tennessee’s 66 (21 of which came on the first play), five touchdown passes for Roethlisberger, a sweet fake punt, and at long last, an interception. Max Starks apparently has the strength of five men as his appearance injected instant competence into an offensive line that was an embarrassment to the term through four weeks.

It’s not worth getting all OMGZ STEELERZ R BACK SUPR BOWL !!!!!!!1!1!!!11 about just one game against an overrated Titans team, but it was great to see the team show themselves that they can still lay the beatdown on some fools.

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Categories: NFL, NHL, Penguins, Pirates
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