Sunday, December 09, 2007

Luongo won the Crosby battles, but the Pens won the game

The playoff like atmosphere in GM Place on Saturday night began with the pre game skate and continued right through until the very last shot of an Overtime shoot out.

In between was played, perhaps one of the more entertaining Saturday night games of the season so far.

The Pittsburgh Penguins brought the Sidney Crosby travelling road show to the Pacific coast on Saturday night and the sold out crowd at GM Place was not denied.

While the home town boosters probably would have preferred that former Canuck goaltender Danny Sabourin had let in one timely goal, in the end the former Canuck proved to be the key player in the nights melodrama.

Before he had his moment in the spotlight, following Kris Letang's winning goal for the Pens, there was the one on one showdown that many felt this game would provide.

Crosby vs Luongo, the Kid setting up shop in Luongo's house and getting shut down not once but twice in highly charged penalty shot situations.

The first one, was a penalty shot when Crosby was hauled down by Aaron Miller in OT, his shoot out attempt stymied by a flailing Luongo, who managed somehow to keep the puck out of the net and deny the Pens the OT victory.

Shortly after, it was Crosby again one of the selected Penguin OT shooters that was bearing down on Luongo and again, defying the scriptwriters to come up with a better ending, Luongo denied the Penguin star again.

In the end, it was once again Kris Letang who would become a shoot out hero, much like he was in Calgary on Thursday, at the midpoint of this Northwestern adventure for the Pens. Letang would be the name to remember with his shoot out goal for the victory and bringing to an end the Pens road trip complete with six points to take back home to Pennsylvania.

The Canucks controlled Crosby's play for a good portion of the play, but by focusing so much on the phenom, the rest of the Penguins line up received more than it's fair share of chances to turn this one into a runaway.

If not for Luongo's heroics especially in the first, the Canucks would never have made it to the Overtime, let alone have need for a shoot out line up.

Luongo, who played behind a rather sloppy defence on Saturday faced far too many shots as the Canucks seemed mesmerized by Crosby, while letting all the rest of the Pens have control of the play and flow of the game.

For all the hype that has surrounded Crosby in this tour of the west, in two out of three games the Flames and Canucks both found ways to shut him down. The only problem is that the Pens are suddenly showcasing their depth, allowing others to step into the void that gets created when teams key on the Kid.

Saturday, the Penguins once again provided a full team effort with numerous players chipping in to take control of the game. Crosby is still the real deal, is still going to net himself a bushell of points, but even when he's held off the score sheet, he's a dangerous player.

Simply by becoming a magnet such as he was on the western swing, he's making his team that much stronger. In the end, it seems that at times it's not just the fans that sit back and watch Crosby while he's on the ice, the competition too seems intent on watching, something the Pens are more than willing to take full advantage of.

Pittsburgh Tribune Review--Letang wins it again
Pittsburgh Tribune Review--Penguins edge Canucks in shootout

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