First visit to Long Island since Orpik ended the Isles’ season last year. Good to see the Penguins win another back-breaking game on the Isle.
Watching Penguin games these days are like this:
1. Playing the way they are right now, could they beat the Bruins?
2. The Penguins are losing? When will they come storming back and make the other team look like a junior team?
Such a bizarre time right now. Remember those days in the mid-'90s when the Red Wings would just annihilate every team they faced? They would play a close game every month, people would think they were going to lose, and then they would somehow win?
That is the Penguins. They play like mud then just come storming back. The Isles went 10 minutes without a shot in the third period. It’s similar to what the Pens did to the Leafs last week.
But whatever. Real talk. The Penguins are scoring on the power play and getting good goaltending when they need it. That is why they won this game. Oh, and because Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have decided to make the NHL season their own personal points battle. Crosby one-upped Malkin in this one, and everyone wins. Everyone but John Tavares, who is a giant baby.
The Isles fans starting mock-chanting Fleury basically off the opening faceoff. That made absolutely no sense.
-- There was a long stretch of the teams feeling each other out, which was also kind of weird. Most likely had something to do with the Islanders having lost 6 straight going in.
-- Things were going smoothly until a rough turnover with the Pens on a 3-on-2 that sent the Okposo and Tavares the other way on a 2-on-1. Letang and Crosby couldn’t get back in time to take out Tavares. Car crash in MAF’s crease, and you can put it on the board. 1-0.
It was actually a terrible turnover by Kunitz, but Letang just had to come flying back to the zone and, in doing so, basically caused a four-car pileup in front of Fleury.
Root showed this stat later in the game, and it makes sense:
--The next time Tavares and Okposo were on the ice, they scored again. Tavares carried in the mail, fed Okposo, and did the center drive. Okposo waited for maximum screenage and unleashed a slapper that squeaked through MAF. 2-0.
Paul Steigerwald audibly sighed before going to the next commercial after that goal. We recorded it so you could share in the embarrassment:
That is pretty bad, but his goal call of the second Isles’ goal, "I can't believe it," might be better.
--The Isles wouldn’t stop coming, either. They almost made it 3-0 and Okposo almost grabbed a hat trick, but he hit the post on a backhand. Overall, Okposo-Tavares-Vanek was the best line in the first.
-- Pens had a chance to stem the bleeding with a late PP. It was looking better when it turned into a 5-on-3 for the last 40 seconds of the period. Letang set up Malkin for a couple of Malkiners, but Nilsson kept closing the door.
Pens didn’t get anything on those power plays. And the offense was stalling. Bylsma decided to go with Malkin-Crosby-Neal for some of the period.
The game hit the halfway mark, and the Pens still needed a goal. It almost seems blasphemous to say, but we still hadn’t noticed Sidney Crosby, something you don’t get to say every game.
Never mind. Jesus. What a pass to Letang. 8:41
Of course Letang blows it
Neal wanted a penalty and let the refs know about it. Next shift, he takes an elbowing penalty. Pens had a big kill, keeping the Isles from setting anything up. The penalty kill has been outstanding lately.
Up to this point, the Penguins weren't doing much. The Islanders had a ton of chances late, as well. Their number-one chance was Grabner hitting the crossbar on a 2-on-1.
But the Pens got a break. Captain John Tavares took an extremely bad penalty. The Penguins cashed in. Evgeni Malkin made a Ron Francis™ pass to Neal from behind the net. Neal scored with 15 seconds left in the period.
Huge goal. 2-1. James Neal is pre-face-broken Kevin Stevens right now.
The third period was a giant mess. Fleury continued getting himself into some trouble playing the puck.
Always an adventure.
-- The third was a ton of 4-on-4 action. Orpik and Malkin both got mixed up into shit.
-- The Penguins outshot the Islanders 12-6 in the third, at one point holding the Isles without a shot for 10 minutes.
-- The Pens got their break a little over 6 minutes in. Some idiot high-sticked Malkin.
We can't lie. Kris Letang didn't have a good game. On this power play he turned the puck over, and Frans Nielsen had a partial breakaway. Letang jobbed him. Penalty shot.
Fleury vs. Frans:
After that, still on the power play, the two best players in the world started making magic. Malkin was determined, and after having one of his shots blocked, he dished to Crosby who smoked one home:
2-2. What a goal.
The goal charged the Pens up, and they were buzzing. Neal had a chance to get his second of the game, but Nilsson made his best save of the night.
The last five minutes
If you didn't watch the game and tuned in for the last five minutes you got the best part. Both teams were flying around. Malkin was playingl like his family was being held hostage. With under two minutes Malkin collided with the Isles goalie and got slashed. While he was skating to the bench, he and John Tavares got into it.
It was an even exchange, but because Tavares is the softest captain in the NHL, Malkin somehow got called for a penalty. Horrid call.
It was up to the penalty kill, and it delivered. Sutter blocked a shot, and as time ticked down, Vanek lost his mind and slashed Maatta. Vanek was all jammed up because he got beat up in front of the net. Too bad he dove. The whole play made Vanek look like a giant coward.
It was definitely anyone's game when it slipped into overtime. You could throw momentum out the window. The Penguins had a powerplay, but couldn't score.
The Islanders? Well...
Neal came into the zone possessed and just missed the far post.
Then it happened.
The puck went up the boards, and Vanek tried skating out without it. Instead, Crosby Datsyuk'd him and went the other way in one motion. He ended up going 1-on-3 on his way to beating Nilsson for the game-winner. Just a classic goal.
In one of the last scenes of the movie " Man On Fire," Denzel Washington's character hands Marc-Anthony a gun after it is revealed Marc-Anthony set up his own daugther's kidnapping. Denzel basically says " kill yourself." In our minds this is probably what should have happened in the Islanders locker room with Thomas Vanek.
-- Another great effort from Fleury.
-- Wayyyyyy to much ice-time for Kris Letang.
-- How good has Matt Niskanen been?