Don’t count out the Penguins. After ripping through the Presidents Trophy Winners in Game 7 in the District, Pittsburgh got a gutty win against Ottawa last night –tying the series up at 1-1 even as the body count continues to mount.
Bryan Rust took the hit of the postseason and left the game — Dion Phaneuf all but putting him in a body bag. D-man Justin Schultz went hard into the boards and never came back. The Pens are now 1 or 2 injuries away from somebody having to go iron lung out there and double shift,… but it might not even matter because by now, it’s clear, Pittsburgh isn’t giving up that title belt without a fight.
Not when Marc-Andre Fleury keeps standing on his head. And not when Phil Kessel keeps doing Phil Kessel things — screaming at everybody who’ll listen on the bench and then lighting the lamp with the game winner to break a scoreless tie with less than 7 minutes to go:
The fact that the Pens are hanging in there defies logic. Fleury playing only because starter Matt Murray got hurt in warm-ups of their first playoff game. And without injured top defenseman Kris Letang and Trevor Daley. And Captain Sid Crosby got his skull cracked. Again.
But with Kessel agitating and coming up big in the largest moments time and time again, and rookie Jake Guentzel leading the team in postseason goals with 9, you can’t kill these guys. Not dead, can’t quit. NOT DEAD! CAN’T QUIT.
You keep waiting for the Penguins to bleed out. Especially with this series as physical as it is and the body count piling up. But as long as Fleury is between the pipes, Crosb’s not in some fog, and Kessel is going Kessel, they’ve got a look at this thing. Are you going to bet against them? Are you going to count them out? Not if you’ve been paying attention you’re not.
So up to Ottawa for Game 3… Battered, bruised and beat up, the Pens aren’t giving up that belt without a fight.
Gritty start to this series, and no team has more grit than the defending champs. They’re tough as hell. And hard to kill.