Saturday, January 5, 2008

Live Blogging The Past: The Nedved Game

Being in school along with having a job, a wife, and 3 awesome kids (among other circumstances) rarely affords me the chance to watch hockey live. The Winter Classic was the first game I have watched live in its entirety all season. As you can imagine this makes it tough to live blog a game, something I have wanted to do for a while now. I was going to live blog the Winter Classic, but I thought my kids would make that difficult and I was right, so it's a good thing I didn't even try.

However I figured there is no reason why I couldn't "live" blog some other classic games from seasons past. The Penguins 10 Greatest Games DVD set has certainly help to make this idea a reality, as well as the handful of other classic games I have on tape somewhere. So, with the wife out of town for the weekend, once I get the kids in bed I will be pressing play on the DVD player and "live" blogging the 4OT classic between the Penguins and Captials from the '96 playoffs, otherwise known simply to most as The Nedved Game. So grab a drink and get comfy... it's going to be a long night.

First Period
  • 20:00 - Opening face-off and Game 4 is underway! The Pens start with Francis centering Jagr and Nedved. Francis jumps off immediately for Mario Lemieux. The matchup games are underway already.
  • 18:54 - Sandstrom makes a strong move to the net and gets hauled down! Penguins on the power play.
  • 17:44 - Francis makes a great play in front but Kolzig closes the door. Tinordi plants Jagr on top of Kolzig for his trouble.
  • 16:40 - Clip with Caps defender Jim Johnson shows him openly questioning the confidence of goalie Jim Carey. With friends like these...
  • 16:08 - Kolzig stones Nedved on a 2-on-1 with Sandstrom.
  • 15:37 - Peter Bondra gets sent to the box for slashing. Another early power play for Pittsburgh.
  • 14:55 - Lemieux, Francis and Jagr out there together. Best line in hockey history for my money.
  • 13:37 - Pens are a quick 0 for 2 on the power play.
  • 13:20 - Nice save by Barrasso on Bondra who is just out of the box.
  • 12:48 - Sandstrom tries a cute pass between the legs and wastes a nice scoring chance in front of Kolzig.
  • 10:28 - Nice centering pass from behind the net by Bondra finds nobody and goes all the way down to Kolzig.
  • 9:44 - Gonchar dumps Dziedzic in front of the net. Third power play of the period for the Pens.
  • 8:20 - Gorgeous play by J.J. Daigneault at the point to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Caps penalty killer are up to the task again though.
  • 7:19 - First Caps power play of the night. Chris Joseph is off for holding the stick.
  • 6:10 - Pivonka puts the Caps on the board! Traffic in front of Barasso and Pivonka snuck in from the point to drive home a nice pass by Dale Hunter from his backside. 0-1
  • 5:00 - Jagr muscles by three Caps but can't get enough on the puck to challenge Kolzig.
  • 3:20 - Glen Murray just got mugged in the Capitals zone. No call.
  • 2:00 - Chris Tamer just missed it wide from the point. Close call for Kolzig.
  • 0:00 - That's the end of the first. The Pens were unable to cash in on the power play, going 0 for 3, while Washington scored on their only man advantage to go into the break up by a goal.
Second Period
  • 20:00 - Puck drops to start the second with Pittsburgh down by a goal. Ken Wregget is now in net for the Penguins as they try to even this series at 2 games. No word yet on a reason for the switch.
  • 18:37 - Ron Francis gets hauled down by Dale Hunter on a breakaway. Penguins go back on the power play for the fourth time. Ronnie almost put it in despite being tripped from behind.
  • 17:37 - Washington is really keeping the Penguins power play on the perimeter. They have to find a way to get the puck into the slot for some quality chances.
  • 16:37 - Pens now 0 for 4 with the extra man. That needs to change in a hurry for the Pens to get back in this game.
  • 15:35 - Barrasso is out with muscle spasms in an undisclosed location. He may return.
  • 14:52 - Jagr just outmuscled half the Caps roster and then set up Tamer for another point shot that went wide. Gotta get those on net!
  • 14:00 - Mario is in all alone and just misses the top right corner of the net! May have grazed Kolzig and/or the crossbar. Best chance so far for Mario.
  • 13:47 - Neil Wilkinson is off for hooking. Caps get their second power play of the game. Lazy penalty by Wilkinson. Needs to keep skating there.
  • 12:36 - Mario just completely undressed a pair of Capitals in close but was denied again by Kolzig. Best scoring chance of the game so far for the Pens comes shorthanded as Mario is really starting to pick up his game.
  • 12:24 - Caps come back the other way and Bondra scores on a one-timer from the high slot. The Caps have converted both of their power plays as special teams are looking more and more like they will be the story of the game. 0-2
  • 12:04 - Penguins try to answer right back but put a pair of shots off the side of the net.
  • 11:04 - Wregget robs Krygier as the Caps are trying to put the Pens away on home ice. A shot off the right post right after the Krygier chance. Wregget needs to answer the bell and keep the Pens in it right now.
  • 10:30 - Mario gets taken down entering the Capitals zone. Pittsburgh goes on the power play for the fifth time. The Pens could really use a goal here to get back in the game.
  • 8:30 - Pens power play comes up empty again as the Caps are stacking the blue line and Pittsburgh isn't adjusting.
  • 6:34 - Zubov is off for tripping Bondra coming out of the corner. Time for the Pittsburgh penalty killers to make a stand and get some momentum going.
  • 5:36 - Nice wrister by Nedved is stopped by Kolzig along with the rebound chance by a streaking Wilkinson.
  • 5:00 - Bondra deked Wregget out of his net but missed a wide open net. Caps were that close to being 3 for 3 with the extra man and really putting the screws to the Pens.
  • 2:39 - Sandstrom is going off for roughing. Bad penalty to take behind the Caps goal.
  • 1:18 - Jagr scores shorthanded! Francis made a perfect headman pass in the neutral zone that hit Jagr in stride and he snapped the wrister by Kolzig to the low stick side as the Pens' best chances continue to come while down a man. 1-2
  • 0:35 - Mario just lost it and went after Todd Krygier! Krygier looked to have speared Mario and then gave him a shot to the head for good measure. Mario went right back at Krygier giving him a slash and a high cross check and then driving him to the ice before everyone else piled on. Mario is given a game misconduct (among other penalties) while Krygier get just two minutes. Mario's night is done and now the Pens are without their best player and their number 1 goalie. Pat Peake is gone for the Caps for being the third man in and the Pens now have to kill off a five minute major power play. The Penguins are really in a deep hole now despite only being down by a goal to the Caps.
  • 0:00 - The second ends with the Caps up by a goal. The Caps have to like their chances here. They will start the third with the lead, almost a full four and a half minutes of power play to work with, and the Penguins missing Lemieux and Barrasso.
Third Period
  • 20:00 - Capitals start the third with the man advantage and a fresh sheet of ice. This could be the beginning of the end for Pittsburgh, but they need to concentrate on killing the penalty before they can worry about trying to tie up the game at 2.
  • 19:16 - Jagr is getting some time on the PK now with Mario lost for the night.
  • 17:43 - Collision between Smolinski and Eagles at the Caps blueline. Neither player was looking and the ran right into each other. Eagles is helped off and Smolinski heads back to the bench on his own. Hopefully Bryan is okay as the Pens are already working with a short bench.
  • 16:24 - Mark Tinordi channels Chris Tamer and completely misses the net from the point.
  • 15:37 - Penalty is over! Nice hand for the penalty killers by the Penguins fan in attendance. This could give the team a huge boost, much like Game 4 against the Rangers in '92.
  • 14:37 - Steve Levy just mentioned that it was Pens equipment manager Steve Latin who suggested wearing the third jerseys in which the Pens are currently unbeaten. Nice call by Latin as the Pens improved to 7-0 in the new unis after their Game 3 win in Washington.
  • 13:43 - Pens go back on the power play as Michal Pivonka goes off for roughing.
  • 12:27 - Nedved just misses a wide open chance from the side of the crease! Pens still working with the man advantage and creating some chances in front of Kolzig.
  • 12:00 - Nedved scores on the power play! Petr rips a wicked wrist shot to the high glove side after the Caps penalty killers gave him way too much time and space. 2-2
  • 11:29 - Jim Johnson goes after Dave Roche after Roche ran right into Olaf Kolzig at the top of his crease. Sandstrom and Johnson get two minutes each for roughing. 4 on 4 hockey for the next two minutes.
  • 10:31 - Daigneault is taken down but no call. The ref's whistles are starting to make their way into their pockets as the end of regulation approaches.
  • 8:48 - Todd Krygier picks Ron Francis and is off for interference. Huge chance for Pittsburgh to take the lead for the first time in the game.
  • 8:24 - Joe Juneau makes a nice shorthanded rush but is turned away by Wregget.
  • 7:40 - Nedved is skating hard and has really picked up his game since Mario got tossed.
  • 5:42 - Dave Roche is lucky... thanks to Alex Stojanov being around he's not the worst skater on the Penguins.
  • 3:11 - The Caps are turning up the pressure and trying to end this in regulation. The Pens are looking a bit tired here and need to start skating again.
  • 1:15 - Jagr makes a nice cut to the slot and almost puts the Penguins ahead. Kolzig stops the rebound shot from Francis too.
  • 0:00 - That's the end of regulation. We're headed to OT with the Penguins looking to take both games in Washington to even the series.
First Overtime Period
  • 20:00 - Pens open up with Jagr, Francis and Nedved on the ice. They must want to end this thing as quickly as possible and get back to Pittsburgh.
  • 17:46 - The Caps are cycling well but don't generate a quality chance out of it.
  • 17:15 - Jagr is flying with the puck! He just has an extra gear when he gets the puck on his stick.
  • 16:40 - The Pens fans in the arena are starting to make some noise. Typical Pens in Washington stuff. It's like a home away from home for the Pens.
  • 15:09 - Jagr is off for hooking Juneau. OT power play for the Caps who have scored on 2 of their previous 5 power plays but were unable to convert on the 5 minute major to Lemieux.
  • 14:20 - Francois Leroux fails twice to clear the puck. That can't happen in OT.
  • 13:21 - Great save by Wregget on the point shot from Sylvain Cote. That one was close!
  • 12:24 - Kelly Miller almost had a breakaway but he couldn't quite split the Penguins defense. Daigneault made an outstanding play to clear the rebound away.
  • 10:00 - Halfway through the period and the Pens only have one shot on goal. Wregget is really settling in at the other end as the Caps are throwing everything they can at him.
  • 9:20 - Jeff Nelson hooks Sandstrom down and is sent off for two minutes. Pens on the power play.
  • 9:00 - Pittsburgh outshot the Caps 42-21 in regulation, but it's 12-1 the other way so far in OT.
  • 8:07 - Francis almost pounded a rebound past Kolzig but was denied and then flattened for his effort.
  • 6:42 - Wregget robs Stefan Ustorf with the glove! Save of the game as the Caps had Pittsburgh running around in their own end.
  • 3:33 - Things slow down a bit as the players are starting to look a little tired. Some sloppy passing going on too.
  • 1:27 - Glen Murray makes a great play to beat out an icing call, but he is all alone in the Caps end as the Pens are making a line change.
  • 0:00 - One OT period is in the books and no winner to show for it. The Caps came out gunning but the Pens worked their way back into it as the period wore on, largely thanks to Jagr's hard skating. Both teams started to show fatigue towards then end of the period though as the play really dropped off in the last five minutes.
Second Overtime Period
  • 20:00 - And we're off again! Pens start the period with the big guns on the ice again. Not a bad move as Jagr and Nedved have been their two best players for most of the game.
  • 19:02 - Nedved breaks in alone and is robbed by Kolzig as he deked and went to the backhand. Nedved chipped the puck by Pivonka at the blueline and walked in all alone on Kolzig, but no dice.
  • 16:53 - There's a lot of coasting going on on the ice, but Jagr is still working through checks like it's the first period.
  • 15:31 - The net is off and Tamer and Bondra are trading punches behind the cage! The Caps are throwing everything at the net but Kenny Wregget is coming up huge and looking pretty calm in the process.
  • 13:07 - Pivonka had Wregget down and out but couldn't bury the puck from the side of the crease. Best chance of the second OT so far.
  • 11:43 - Jagr is cruising to the bench after a stoppage and he looks like he's about ready to pass out. Jags is leaving it all on the ice tonight.
  • 11:25 - Joe Dziedzic just drilled Dale Hunter in the neutral zone. Big hit to throw in a second OT. Hunter never saw him coming.
  • 10:18 - The Caps are buzzing again and Wregget continues to shut the door. Miller and Bondra were both denied by Wregget at close range.
  • 9:18 - Chris Joseph just tackled Andrew Brunette but no call. That's easily two minutes in regulation. You have to love playoff OT hockey!
  • 7:45 - Zubov has a great chance from the circle and then Kolzig takes a shot at Jagr after the whistle. Kolzig needs to lighten up a bit, Jagr was nowhere near him there.
  • 5:53 - A couple more OT periods and everyone else will be skating almost as slow as Dave Roche. Almost...
  • 4:17 - Trickling puck in the crease and the net is off! Juneau almost ended this things and then Chris Tamer made a game saving swipe with the stick and then took the net off its moorings in the process. Delay of game call on Tamer. Penalty shot for Washington!!! Juneau will take it...
  • Penalty Shot - SAVE!!! The puck was rolling and bouncing all over the place on Juneau and he couldn't get a good shot off. It was rolling before he even hit the blueline. All Kenny had to do was stand his ground and the game continues.
  • 3:31 - Pens put some pressure on at the other end but no dice. Tamer finally got a shot on net though.
  • 1:03 - The guys are really looking tired out there on both sides. You can sense they are just trying to make it to the intermission without costing their team the game.
  • 0:00 - That's it for the second OT. We've played 100 minutes of hockey and still no winner in what has been an epic game full of twists and surprises.
Third Overtime Period
  • 20:00 - Play starts back up and again the Pens start with Jagr, Francis and Nedved on the ice. The Pens lack of depth could really end up costing them here.
  • 19:29 - Mark Tinordi just flopped on top of Jagr after the whistle like the ass that he is. Jagr and Francis are on the bench laughing about it. Life goes on.
  • 18:22 - Dziedzic continues to hit everything he can. Big time effort from the Minnesota native.
  • 17:13 - Jagr dances around in the slot and fires a wicked backhander on net that Kolzig kicks aside. Nice try by Mario Jr.
  • 16:35 - Chris Joseph is headed off for a hook. Pretty blatant dive by Jeff Nelson but the ref bought it. Caps power play here in the third OT.
  • 15:24 - Kevin Miller just drew a trip from Sylvain Cote as he tried to chip it by and head in on a shorthanded breakaway. That will give us 48 seconds of 4 on 4 and then a Penguins power play and a chance to end things.
  • 13:45 - Chance for Nedved in front off a giveaway but he didn't have enough room to do anything with it! Bad turnover in front by the Caps but Kolzig bails them out again. Nedved is starting to show some jump again.
  • 12:56 - Johnson snuck in from the point and gets a one-timer but just misses the net! Wregget looked to have the angle if the shot had been on target.
  • 10:46 - Joseph and Bondra get into it after the whistle after Wregget stops Bondra's shot from the faceoff dot. No penalties called of course. Things are getting a little chippy away from the play again.
  • 8:32 - Jagr, Francis and Nedved put on some good pressure but leave the zone empty handed again. Jagr is doing a great job of conserving energy and finding space on the ice. Nedved looks a lot "fresher" than just about everyone else too. Amazing display by the Penguins top line.
  • 7:20 - Just showed a guy in the crowd with a "Die Penguins Die" sign. Real creative there winner. As guess we have to die once for each Cup.
  • 5:39 - Shot of Olaf Kolzig and he looks ready to pack it in. Guy has to be dead tired at this point. I'm impressed he's still putting his arm up for icings.
  • 5:07 - Bondra just missed deflecting a point shot in. That was the best chance the Capitals have had in quite a while. Looks like it may have caught Wregget's blocker. Good positioning never goes out of style.
  • 3:36 - Ronnie Francis breaks into a full sprint and almost beats out an icing call. They've played almost two full games of hockey now and Ronnie is still sprinting to prevent icings. What a player... what a human.
  • 3:24 - Wregget just absolutely robbed Todd Krygier with the right pad and smothers the rebound. Krygier will be seeing that one in his sleep.
  • 2:10 - Play is breaking down again. Guys are even having trouble with simple, unpressured D to D passes.
  • 0:42 - Slashing penalty coming to Joe Dziedzic as he drilled Todd Krygier. Another Caps power play that could carry over to the fourth OT.
  • 0:00 - That's it for the third OT. Still no winner and the players look beat. Someone is going to have to dig deep to find a little something extra and finish this thing.
Fourth Overtime Period
  • 20:00 - Here we go again. Hopefully fourth OT's the charm. Caps are still on the power play.
  • 18:45 - Krygier fires one through the crease but no luck. Power play is over for Washington.
  • 17:21 - Kolzig turns away a nice one-timer by Sandstrom off a nice feed from Smolinski. Pens are trying to pick up the offense again.
  • 14:42 - Jagr just misses on a wrister from the right circle. The Pens are just firing it on net from anywhere right now.
  • 13:30 - Glen Murray is stopped by Kolzig as the Pens broke in 3 on 2. The Penguins are starting to find some lanes into the offensive zone, but Kolzig still seems calm and in control between the pipes.
  • 11:54 - Nedved is starting to look a little tired finally. That's the first time I've ever seen skating seem like work for him. All these OT's are really taking their toll on the players (and the announcers).
  • 10:35 - Frantic action around the Capitals goal but nobody can put it home. Too many tired bodies out there flopping all over the ice. This is desperation hockey.
  • 9:25 - This is now the third longest game in NHL history. Good times.
  • 8:09 - Full credit to the players. They are all dead tired but nobody is losing track of their man. It's still tight defense being played all over the ice.
  • 6:13 - Hunter and Eagles are shoving at Ronnie. Jokes.
  • 6:03 - Close ups of some of the players and the Pens just seem more "with it". The guys they showed on the Caps look like the walking dead. Could be a good omen.
  • 4:51 - The Penguins top line is starting to fly again. Even Ronnie seems to have found some jump in those old legs.
  • 3:23 - Lots of Caps just standing around and watching right now. The Pens definitely have more jump right now... relatively speaking of course.
  • 2:39 - Hooking call on Jim Johnson as he rode Jagr all the way through the Capitals zone. Jagr outworked him the whole way and the ref had to call that. It was way to blatant to let go, fourth OT or not. Penguins power play coming up!
  • 1:47 - The Penguins are completely outworking and outskating the Capitals right now. They're going for the kill and this game could be over at any second. Kolzig is the only thing keeping the Caps' hopes alive.
  • 0:45 - GOAL!!! It's over! Petr Nedved threw it on net and the puck made it's way through traffic and past Kolzig. It's Nedved's second power play goal of the game and it sends the Pens back to Pittsburgh tied with the Caps at two games apiece. The Pens were definitely the stronger team for most of the fourth OT and it seemed like only a matter of time before they sealed the deal. Epic game. Epic win. And Petr Nedved just secured his place in Penguins and NHL history. 3-2
Closing Thoughts

What a game! I remember when this game happened it was my freshman year at Cal State Long Beach and we didn't have cable in the dorms yet so I didn't get to see it. My buddy from the hockey team Rick Tiley called me when the game hit OT and the rest of the night consisted of me calling him every 10 or 15 minutes to see if they were still playing. I can still feel the relief and excitement from when he called me to tell me Nedved had ended it.

Revisiting this game now the biggest thing that stood out to me was that Penguins team's lack of depth. I always remember that 96 Pens group as being a Ron Francis broken foot away from the Finals, but there was a huge gap between their top players and the rest of the roster. It's pretty amazing how far Lemieux, Jagr, Francis, Nedved, and Wregget were able to carry that team in the playoffs that year. The stuff of legends.

1 comment:

Adrian said...

Thanks for resurrecting one of the greatest games in Pens' recent history.

I was in the twelfth grade up here in annoying Leafs-saturated Ontario, without cable TV like you. Next morning, my friend told me in detailed fashion about how Wregget stopped the p.s. and how Zubov apparently shouted, "Let's go!" on the final rush into the Caps zone on the winning goal.