Game 5 vs Pittsburgh Oct 11th
Walking in at 7:30 am Bonehead is surprised to see both defensive coaches have obviously been there at least a few hours. Questioning whats up, they say they worked out a compromise plan for the defense and want me to sign off on it. Campbell/Gilbert remains the top pair with Gudbranson/Weaver moving up to second pairing and Kulikov/Gilroy dropping to third pairing. Since both coaches agree with this plan I quickly agree to try it tonight. "Thats not all" they say They want a little extra muscle in the lineup tonight so Colby Robak will play in place of Gilroy who is our least physical D man. The minutes played will strongly skew towards the top four with Kulikov and Robak essentially spelling the top four. Again its their show I tell them. Coach Ramsay will be out today on an approved leave day. (HIPPA rules you understand) but will be there tonight, he left his changes in an envelope and I implement the changes before the morning skate. C Gomez and LW Fleischmann move to the top line, while youngsters LW Huberdeau and C Bjugstad move to 2nd line to counteract the "Crosby effect".
The first period is a very nice surprise, we are finally outshot for the period 12-10, but four of our shots find the back of the net! Most surprisingly the new defensive pairing result in Kulikov/Robak being a plus three for the period and Kulikov scoring just :18 into the game. (even though it's only an impossible :02 seconds after the first FLA goal...)
The Penguins use the second period to storm back into the game on two goals by RW James Neal (8.0a/8.0a). The good news is we held the Pens to 7 shots on goal and we closed the shots gap to one at 19 -18.
What a third period!, 16,864 fans are treated to a three goal third period and seven goals on the night! The final score is 7 - 3 and the players are mobbing each other by G Tim Thomas... There is definitely a feeling of relief among the coaches and we savor the moment before heading to the dressing room.
C Shawn Matthias (6.5a/6.5a)and C Nick Bjugstad (7.0a/8.0a) both score twice tonight, while First Star D Brian Campbell (8.0a/8.0a) had two assists and a plus three rating for the evening.