The Pens started out well enough in the third, but eased up just enough to let the Flames back into this one. The Flames came out strong and kept the pressure on, taking advantage of a Pens bench that was shortened a bit with Evgeni Malkin spending the majority of the period off the ice. The Flames unrelenting will slowly chipped away at the Pens defense, taking advantage of miscues by the Pens to put two in the back of the net.
The first of the two comes on a fluky goal when Tanguay fires a Hail Mary slap-pass towards Bourque driving to the net and Bourque manages to redirect past Fleury. The second comes from a misplay of the puck behind the net by Fleury on a dump and the Flames quickly capitalize with Jokinen firing a one-timer off a good feed. The Flames pull Kiprusoff late to try and get the equalizer, but the Pens manage to hold off the Flames in the last minute. The last shift showed great pressure and patience by Staal and co. to eliminate any play in the offensive zone by the Flames, ultimately leading to the EN goal by Jordan Staal to seal it.
Tentative first, brilliant second, slow third. The Pens let up in the third for the second game in a row and, for the second time, the Pens almost give it away. I'll have to give a bit of latitude since it is a tough West Coast swing, but the Pens need to keep the pressure on for a full 60 minutes of hockey. So far, they've only averaged about 2 periods of good hockey per game. Some good positives to take from this one, as scoring was exceptionally balanced with great goals by Kennedy and Niskanen, and some good offensive playmaking by Chris Kunitz. Cooke-Vitale-Dupuis showcased itself this evening as the third line, producing some great pressure and a number of quality chances. Malkin's lack of presence on the ice in the 3rd was certainly troubling, with Geno clearly favoring his leg/knee. We'll see what the report is in the morning.
Edmonton up next for the Pens. Good chance we'll see Brent Johnson in net and probably a few other changes in the lineup as well. If Malkin is not 100%, this is one he could afford to sit to rest up. Richard Park has been on the sidelines on this trip; this would be a good game to get him some action.
Skate hard and thanks for tuning in,