I normally try to extend my business trips by a day on one side or the other to do a bit of exploring or to take in a unique event. When the (very delayed) NHL schedule was released, I realized an extra night in Pittsburgh would give me a chance to see a Penguins game. When tickets went on sale, I snagged a customary nosebleed seat for the Penguins – Senators game.
Having perfected the art of “sneaking down” into the good seats, I gave the slip to an usher and made my way down to the lower level to take in some of the warm-up. Here’s my view a few minutes after getting inside the rink:
After striking up a conversation with an usher, he was nice enough to take this picture with me down at ice level. One of the things you’ll notice in NHL rinks is how perfect the glass is – not a mark:
There was the giveaway for the evening as the Penguins continue to say “sorry” to their fans for the lock-out. I was the proud recipient of an Evgeni Malkin bobblehead. Once I got up to my nosebleed seat, I gave this to the person beside me for one of their kids back home to save space in my carry-on bag for the flight the next day:
I spent some time walking around the relatively new arena. It’s pretty swanky. Lots of good food choices (in the lower level, not so great up top), comfy seats (again, only in the lower level… the upper deck seats had legroom that made discount charter airline seats feel like first class), and stellar sight lines from everywhere. Another very friendly usher took this picture of me from the top of the lower level:
Later in the 2nd period, Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson had his achilles tendon sliced by a skate in my end of the rink. Even from my seat you could hear him scream. It was very odd to hear 19,000 people go so quiet at once knowing something was very wrong. One very drunken fan two rows behind me called him an unpleasant name questioning his manhood. Best part: the 4 Pens fans that turned on one of their own and started screaming back at him. Didn’t hear a peep from the drunk guy the rest of the night.
The game was entertaining throughout. Both teams played an up-tempo skating game. Having a seat high up in the end of the rink, I really enjoyed watching the play develop. The passing and offensive creativity of both teams was exceptional. Malkin was fun to watch with the puck – lots of great plays and lots of high risk turnovers. James Neal scored twice, one a beautiful shot that picked the top corner in the net right below me. Crosby was dominant throughout the game in all phases.
Late in the 3rd period, Crosby scored a goal to put the game away for the Pens (to go along with two beautiful assists earlier in the game). Here he is skating back to the bench celebrating the goal:
A great game to watch ended with a 4-2 win over Ottawa sending everyone to the exits happy. Just after the final buzzer, the celebration started with the phrase that is uttered by the Pens radio announcer after every win: “Ladies and Gentlemen… Elvis has just left the building”. I really just included that bit as an excuse for the picture below of the Pens mascot, Iceburgh (great name!), wearing an Elvis wig: