Recchi Spoils Penguins Streak in Shootout

The Pittsburgh Penguins lost their first game in 9-outings on Saturday night to the Atlanta Thrashers, but still managed to pick up a point in the 3-2 overtime shootout loss.  As if scripted by the hockey gods, it was former Penguin Mark Recchi, the Thrashers’ 4th shooter, who scored the game winning goal in the extended shootout.  The overtime loss ends the Penguins’ winning streak at 8-games and red-hot goaltender Ty Conklin’s undefeated streak at 9-games.  It was Conklin’s first loss as a Penguin, despite an outstanding performance against Atlanta.

Pittsburgh got on the board first by scoring at 5:23 of the 1st period.  Sidney Crosby was able to gather the puck up beside the net and quickly stickhandle it into the open side of the net past Kari Lehtonen for his 19th of the season.  Ryan Whitnery and Evgeni Malkin were credited with the assists on the even strength goal.  The Thrashers bounced back just 4-minutes later on a blistering power-play slapshot by league-leading goal scorer Ilya Kovalchuk that burned its way past Conklin.  Mark Recchi and Tobias Enstrom pitched in with the assists, as Darryl Sydor sat for hooking.  The Thrashers slightly outshot the Penguins 11-5, and were 1-for-1 on the powerplay.  The Penguins failed to convert on their lone man-advantage of the period. 

In the 2nd period, it was Sidney Crosby, playing like a man obsessed, that quickly scored his 2nd goal of the night at 5:06 to regain the lead.  Like a machine, Crosby set up the play inside the offensive zone and then circled back around into the slot to pick up a deflected shot and bury the puck in the back of the net.  Kris Letang and Colby Armstrong were credited with the assists.  The Penguins had a 13-10 advantage in shots in the 2nd and were 0-for-1 on the powerplay.  At the end of the period, the Penguins killed off the front end of a 4-minute double minor to Petr Sykora for a high stick that carried over into the 3rd. 

Early in the third, the Thrashers cashed in on the tail end of the 4-minute powerplay that carried over from the 2nd period.  Bobby Holik got the tip-in goal with assists by Marian Hossa and Vyacheslav Kozlov.  From that point on, the Thrashers largely dominated Pittsburgh offensively but were unable to get the go ahead goal past Ty Conklin, as they outshot the Penguins 14-6.  Regulation ended in a 2-2 tie, giving both teams a point in the standings and a chance to play for the extra point in overtime. 

The 5-minute sudden death overtime period ended without a decision to force the shootout.  The Penguins selected Petr Sykora, Kris Letang, and Sidney Crosby as the first 3-shooters, while the Thrashers selected Vyacheslav Kozlov, Marian Hossa, and Ilya Kovalchuk.  Lehtonen and Conklin stopped the first 3-shooters per side.  Former Penguin Mark Recchi came out as Atlanta’s 4th shooter and hesitated slightly before beating Conklin on the glove side.  Kari Lehtonen then stopped the final attempt by Pittsburgh’s 4th shooter, Evgeni Malkin, to end the game.

With the Devils winning on Saturday night, the Penguins lose a point to trail the Devils by 2-points for the Atlantic Division lead.  The Penguins return to Pittsburgh to host the New York Rangers Monday night in an Atlantic Division matchup that will be televised nationally on Versus at 7PM. 

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