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Friday, April 9, 2010

Retiring Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena. Crosby Scores His What-ieth Goal?

The Pittsburgh Penguins began saying their farewells to Mellon Arena, the old barn that has been their home since the inception of the franchise in 1967.

In a pregame ceremony, legendary broadcaster Mike Lange and his former booth partner, Paul Steigerwald, introduced the finest collection of Pittsburgh hockey graybeards that the team could summon for the occasion.

On hand were Jack Riley and Red Sullivan, the Penguins' first GM and coach. The first Penguin to score a goal in the Arena, Andy Bathgate. One of the greatest line combos in Penguins history, the "Century Line", Jean Pronovost, Syl Apps and Lowell MacDonald.  Cup winners and current broadcasters, Phil Bourque and Bob Errey.  The First 50 goal scorer and well known golfer, Pierre Larouche.  A former Alyssa Milano conquest: Robbie Brown. Recent fan favorite and Chuck Norris-esque cult hero, Gary Roberts.  Hall of Famers Bryan Trottier Craig Patrick, Larry Murphy and Paul Coffey. For the grand finale: Penguins owner, the franchise's greatest player, and god of all that is Pittsburgh hockey, number 66, Mario Lemieux!

After the introductions, the current Penguins team joined the legends at center ice for the mother of all team pictures.

Those same, current Penguins, also had one, final regular season game to play against the New York Islanders.  Although the score remained close for a while, the outcome was never seriously in doubt.  Captain Sidney Crosby played like a man on a mission all night, on his way to becoming the third youngest player to reach 500 career points, behind only... you guessed it, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.

At the 5:26 mark of the second period, Crosby was credited with a goal.  It was his, aforementioned 500th career point, but also his 50th goal of the season.  The goal would have made him the Penguins' first 50-goal scorer since Jaromir Jagr in 2000-01, the first  50-goal scorer of this season, and the first time that he had reached the plateau in his career.

Media outlets began reporting Crosby's 50th goal immediately... but, alas! Upon further review, the puck was redirected into the net by none other than that unseemly villain, that despicable, glory hounding, goal leech: Billy Guerin's ass! The puck had deflected off of Guerin before finding it's way past Marty Biron for Guerin's 19th of the season...not Sid's 50th.

If that weren't enough, late in the third period, Bill Guerin's stick got into the act, and slammed his 20th goal, the Penguins' 7th of the night, into the net; in what will go down in history as the last regular season goal ever scored at Mellon Arena.

For Pittsburgh and their fans, the night was a smashing success.  Now that same group hopes that it's final post-season game is just as joy filled.

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