Sunday, December 23, 2007

Game 36: 12/23/07: Penguins 4 - Bruins 2

In their final game before the Christmas break the Penguins put together a victory, beating the Boston Bruins at home 4-2. It was a milestone night, as the Penguins sold out their record 31st straight game at the Mellon Arena, Sergei Gonchar picked up his 400th career assist, and Georges Laraque's 50th career goal turned out to be the game winner.

After a rough game against the Islanders on Friday night, giving up 4 goals on 20 shots, Dany Sabourin was given the night off and Ty Conklin got the call. It was Conklin's second start of the season since being called up following the Marc-Andre Fleury high ankle sprain.

The Bruins PJ Alexsson opened up the scoring, taking advantage of a Evgeni Malkin turnover and beating Conklin only minutes into the 1st period.

But it was the Penguins who came out flying in the 2nd. Erik Christensen feed Georges Laraque behind the net, who found Gary Roberts in the crease for the tying goal.

Later in the 2nd on the power-play, Evgeni Malkin's slapshot found it's way over the shoulder of newly acquired Bruins goalie Alex Auld, and giving the Penguins the lead.

30 seconds later Georges Laraque increased the lead to 2 goals, crashing the net and deflecting a Roberts pass Auld.

In the last minute of the 3rd, with Auld pulled for a 6th skater, the Bruins pulled within one on a Petteri Nokelainen goal.

But when Sidney Crosby's bad angle attempt at an empty net goal hit the post, Gary Roberts was there to pick up the puck and burry it into the net to put the game away.

Conklin stopped 28 of 30 shots, picking up his 2nd win on the season.

It was the play of the Penguins 3rd line of Laraque-Roberts-Christensen that made the difference. Collectively they had 3 goals and 4 assists.

Brooks Orpik found himself a healthy scratch again, the 3rd straight game. The Penguins have had one too many defensemen since the call up of Kris Letang, and lately it's been Orpik who has been the odd man out. As explained by Rob Russi in this mornings Pittsburgh Tribune, Orpik's been upset about the recent scratches, especially in Boston where he had purchased tickets for family and friends.

With the win the Penguins jump to the 3rd spot in the incredibly tight Altantic Division, which sees only 5 points separate the first place New Jersey Devils and last place Philadelphia Flyers.

After a Christmas break the Penguins will welcome the Washington Capitals to the Mellon Arena on Thursday evening. The two teams have played once this season, with the Penguins skating away with the 2-1 victory in Washington.

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