Originally posted on The Pensblog  |  Last updated 2/14/13

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 18: Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 18, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
  This game was neatly divided into two parts: before the Karlsson injury and after the Karlsson injury.   Before the injury, it was a well-played game. Both teams had good chances; there was some solid goaltending. It had a great flow to it. We wish we could've seen a fully stocked Sens team with Spezza and Michalek.   Then toward the end of the second period, Matt Cooke and Erik Karlsson got tangled up in the corner, and it was all downhill for the Senators. They chose to get all jammed up at Matt Cooke instead of play the third period.The Pens capitlized on the Senators' lack of focus and cleaned up in the third.     It sucks that Erik Karlsson got hurt, but, holy ****. The Senators acted like Cooke took his skate off, tied Karlsson up, and put him on Dexter's table.   Hack through all the drama, and there were two huge developments in this game:   1. Matt Cooke played his best game of the season. He got moved up to play with Neal and Malkin, and he was effective. He's the first winger this season to get a point with Malkin and Neal at even strength. The Karlsson hit aside, this is what Matt Cooke does best. He gets the other team so worried about him, they don't worry about Malkin or Crosby. Boychuk and Sutter showed some flashes of chemistry, too.   2. Pens' power play looks to have finally found an identity. Martin and Letang at the points, with the team's three best shooters closest to the net. They hummed on that power play in the third period that eventually led to Crosby's goal.   Winnipeg on Friday. Recap:     FIRST PERIOD Milan Michalek was a late scratch. Bortuzzo sat for the Pens with Letang and Nisk back. Both teams were flying to start. It was sizing up to be a good game, and it didn't disappoint. ROOT Sports bid farewell to Tangradi, and Errey placed the blame for his suckage at Malkin and Neal's feet. Possibly a new low in sports broadcasting. The Sens were making moves, but MAF was matching them. A Crosby giveaway led to an eventual breakaway for Zack Smith. Martin had to trip him up. Pens killed that PP. Zach Boychuk looked lost playing with Malkin and Neal. He had a couple of awful shifts. The Pens showed their first spark of offense with Malkin and Crosby out there, and they drew a penalty. PP couldn't do much. One new wrinkle was no Letang to start the powerplay. The Index got a chance to play the QB, and he looked good. Later, Despres made a huge play to keep the puck in the Sens' zone. Then it was Crosby Time. An All-World saucer pass to Dupuis. 1-0. Fleury was solid all game. The bank goal was some lucky ****. SECOND PERIOD Sometime during the game, Cooke replaced Boychuk on the 71-18 line. Joe Vitale registered his first shot of the season on a big chance. Not sure if that statement is accurate, but it feels like it. He celebrated the shot by going Mach 9 into the boards. He then got up and almost deflected a shot home. Actually it was his 11th shot on the season. Mitochondria had a great chance on an odd-man rush but passed it instead. The Sens got a PP by the end of that play.  Then they got a 5-on-3 when Dupuis got caught hooking a Sen. Pens killed all of it. No, wait, they didn't. Some dude scored a ******** bank goal. 1-1. 4 seconds later, the Pens coughed it up in the neutral zone.  Another no-name Sen scored. Bob Errey questioned whether or not the play was onside. COUNT IT. 2-1. The Sens nearly scored again, but MAF made a big stop. Pens were jammed, then they got a PP. Martin got the early look as the only D-man.  Then he was joined by Letang. Alfredsson had to respect Letang's one-timer, which freed Martin to go to the net.  He fed it to Bing, who made a perfect pass to Neal. Neal had time to cradle it and snipe it. 2-2. The Sens answered with some sustained pressure. MAF made a couple stops.  Boychuk and Sutter were looking good together. Martin then took his third penalty of the game.  Alfredsson was lurking through that power play. All killed. Then it happened. It's been discussed out the ass already, so we'll just leave this here. THIRD PERIOD You could almost see Bryan Murray plotting his revenge on Matt Cooke. Senators came out all pissed off. Zach Smith got in Crosby's face. Matt Cooke made his presence known on the 71-18 line. Finally there's a winger who doesn't completely disappear in the offensive zone. He dogged a Senator off a puck, and the wheels started turning. Neal hopped on a juicy rebound. 3-2. Crosby then started making moves behind the Sens' net reminiscent of the Spezza tornado.  Neil chirped him afterward. Pens got a PP. Great unit with Letang and Martin on the points.  18-71-87 down low. It looked liked a powerplay you could be proud of. The powerplay expired but the Pens kept the flow going cashed in right after. 4-2. Then the Sens sent out Chris Neil as a Cooke-seeking missile. Both Neil and Cooke got game misconducts. Refs made a bold move on the Cooke misconduct, but they just wanted Cooke out of there. GAME. MISCELLANEOUS - Crosby with a sneaky 3 points. - Horrible break for the Sens with the Karlsson injury, and a horrible break for NHL fans.  What a talent. We'd feel really bad for Sens fans for losing a star player, but 2011, bro. - Best overall game from the Pens. Special teams were really solid. Anderson is no joke. - Speculation about Beau Bennett being called up. Don't see the point in rushing him. But whatever. -- Crosby and Malkin's time have been going up for the last week. -- 10:46 seems low for Despres, but it wasn't because of him not playing well. Actually if he can play a mistake-free 10 minutes a tonight, it is nothing but goodness for the Pens. -- Can't believe we used to call Niskanen Riskanen. Guy just came out of nowhere. What a solid player. -- Boychuk looked much better on the third line. Less pressure, too.  
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