-Hey, guess where we are:
-No, not quite:
-It's the last Penguins game of 2010. And it has the potential to be ugly considering it's against the Islanders. And it's not a matter of if Sidney Crosby extends his scoring streak. It's a matter of when. He has ripped this hapless franchise for 62 points in 32 career games.
-The Penguins' starters are Arron Asham, Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Eric Godard and Ben Lovejoy.
-The Islanders' starters are Josh Bailey, Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen, Travis Harmonic, Andrew MacDonald and Rick DiPietro.
-Their lone scratch is Radek Martinek.
-FSN Pittsburgh presents your lines and defensive pairings:
19:24: Off a cruddy turnover by Michalek in his own zone, Michael Grabner has a chance in tight but punches a loose puck near the crease wide.
19:00ish: Matt Moulson is former Penguins prospect:
18:01: Dupuis gains the offensive zone on the left wing and cranks a slapper on net from above the left circle. It's wide on the far side.
17:30: Jon Sim is a former Penguin:
16:54: Tyler Kennedy grips and rips a wrister from outside the right circle. DiPietro makes the easy save.
16:37: Baily pushes a backhander in the slot wide of the cage.
15:28: Dupuis is knocked off the puck in the right wing corner with a solid body check by Harmonic.
13:16: Fleury denies P.A. Parenteau off the right wing.
12:50: Bob Errey mentions it looks like Mark Eaton and Milan Jurcina have drawn the task of stopping Sidney Crosby's line. Good luck with that.
12:06: MacDonald chucks a wrister on net from the left point. Despite a screen by Frans Nielsen, Fleury gloves it.
11:56: Malkin flicks a backhanded pass from the right wing to the crease. Matt Cooke is there but can't get a stick on the puck.
11:50: Alex Goligoski drives a slapper from the right point. DiPietro makes the inital save then denies Malkin on the rebound with his left foot.
10:53: Craig Adams and Zenon Konopka drop the gloves in the Penguins' crease. They mostly wrestle around Konopka lands a few shots. Adams throws a big right which misses. They wrestle towards the left wing corner boards before officials step in. Adams appears to have a cut in his mouth and a little bit of blood on the front of his jersey. Give that one to Konopka
10:04: Crosby whips a one-timer on net from the slot. DiPietro snags it with a glove save.
9:30: Bailey wrestles away from a check by Goligoski, spins in the left circle and whips a backhander on net. Fleury boots it out.
6:04: Rupp snaps off a wrister from the right wing. It's deflected wide.
5:34: Asham whips wrister on net from the left wing. DiPietro makes the inital save but allows a rebound. Letestu is there but can't clean it up.
4:28: Crosby whips a loose puck at the cage from the slot. It's wide to the left of the cage.
3:50: Jack Hillen snaps off a wrister from the left half wall. it hits John Tavres
3:38: After some serious hard work down below the Penguins' goal line, Moulson puts a wrister on net from the right circle. Fleury eats it up. Parenteau and Kunitz are sent off. Kunitz for crosschecking and Kunitz for roughing. Four on four.
2:56: Off a drop pass by Malkin, Letang hammers a one-timer from above the right circle. DiPietro eats it up.
2:36: Kennedy coasts up the rright wing on a two on one with Crosby against MacDonald. Kennedy deals to Crosby. As MacDonald is a step slow to block the pass, Crosby has DiPietro beat but clunks a shot off the cross bar.
2:11: Kennedy is denied down low twice by DiPietro.
1:44: Grabner tries to challenge Letang one-on-one on the left wing. Letang just kind of holds his ground and takes the puck away with ease.
0:35: After Goliogski and Engelland fumble a puck in their own zone, Nielsen chops a shot on ent from the left circle. Fleury boots it away. Goligoski and Engelland each owe Fleury a beer.
0:00: End of period. Islanders 0, Penguins 0.
-Surprisingly, that was a pretty even period. Unlike a lot of other playoff-caliber teams, the Islanders, for all their problems, didn't seem overwhelmed by the Penguins.
-Fleury was pretty sharp. He had to be. The Islanders created some quality scoring chance by outworking the Penguins on occasion.
-Malkin seemed to be really creating a few things offensively. He was much sharper that period than he was during last night's game.
-Kennedy and Moulson each lead the game with three shots.
-Fire Ray Shero.
-MacDonald leads the game with 8:09 of ice time.
-Letang and Crosby each lead the Penguins with 7:36.
-The Islanders have an 8-7 edge in faceoffs (53 percent).
-Crosby was 4 for 6 (67 percent).
-Tavares was 3 for 5 (60 percent).
-Orpik and Hillen each lead the game with three blocked shots.
19:26: The Islanders outwork the Penguins in their own zone and cash in. After a giveaway by Harmonic chops a slapper from the right point. Fleury makes the save but allows a rebound Michalek and Martin are slow to react. That allows Bailey to recover the puck and punche it by Fluery's blocker. Harmonic gets the lone assist. Michalek could make s case for one. Islanders 1-0.
18:32: Parenteau feeds a pass off the left wing to Tavares moves down the slot. Fending off pressure from a backcheck by Chris Conner, Tavares puts a backhander on net but is denied by Fleury.
17:29: Letang sneaks in deep on the left wing and flicks a backhander to the crease. Adams is there for the rebound but can't get a handl eon it.
16:48: On a delayed penalty, Grabner rips a wrister on net from the right wing. Fleury eats it up. Dupuis is sent off for high sticking Nielsen. Brooks Orpik, Michalek, Cooke and Adams take the ice.
15:32: Eaton golfs a slapper from the left point wide on the near side.
15:15: Fleury denies Robbie Schremp in tight.
14:48: Dupuis' minor is killed. Not much going on there for the islanders.
14:35: Eaton is a former Penguin, twice:
13:29: Parenteau and Goligoski wrestle each other to the ice in the right wing corner in the Penguins' zone. No penalties.
13:11: Fleury freezes a puck with his leg but Moulson jabs it loose and into the net juuuuuust as the whistle is blown. No goal.
11:30ish: Steigerwald reads approximately the 823,423 promo of the season for that lame Dan Patrick radio show. Then sort of has an exchange with Errey that goes something like this:
Steigerwald: "Watch the Dan Patrick Show."
Errey: "Is there a lot of hockey on that show?"
9:30: Coming back from commercial, Dan Potash ives some love to Michel Dion, the only all-star goaltender in franchise history:
9:10: Sim is denied in tight by Fleury. Orpik gives Sim the business. Both players are sent off for roughing. Four on four.
8:16: MacDonald has a chance in the slot but guns it wide after Malkin kneels down to attempt a block.
7:51: BIG save.Crosby sneaks by Jurcina on the right wing and distributes a pass to Malkin trailing in the slot. Malkin puts an immediate wrister on net. DiPietro is in perfect position and fends it off.
7:41: Jurcina is denied off the left wing by Fleury.
7:10: The minors to Sim and Orpik expire.
6:53: Grabner rushes in off the left wing and puts a backhander wide to the far side.
5:59: Matt Martin is nabbed for hitting Engelland into the boards from behind in the Penguins' zone. That's two minutes for boarding. Malkin, Crosby, Kunitz, Letang and Paul Martin take the ice for the Penguins' first power play.
4:13: Malkin snaps off a backhander from the right circle. DiPietro rejects it.
4:03: Goligoski guns a slapper from the left point wide to the far side.
3:59: Matt Martin's minor is killed. Not much goin on there for the Penguins.
3:27: And the third line comes through to tie the game. Off a turnover in the neutral zone, Kennedy races up the right wing and flicks a shot on net from a deep angle. DiPietro fights it off despite having Goligoski crash in. Conner gets behind Matt Martin's back check and punches it into the cage. Kennedy gets the only assist. Islanders 1, Penguins 1.
1:30ish: Bailey has a chance in tight but before he can get a stick on a puck, Crosby, on a backcheck, chips it back up ice out of danger.
0:00: End of period. Islanders 1, Penguins 1.
-These are the same sad sack Islanders team under Scott Gordon. New coach Jack Capuano has them playing hard and committed to a tough defensive system. They've clogged up the ice in their own zone and have limited the shooting and passing lanes for the Penguins.
-This has been a really tame contest so far in terms of chippiness. Even with a first period fight, this has been a pretty unremarkable game in terms of physical play.
-MacDonald has been pretty solid tonight. Strong play in all three zones and he has created a few scoring chances.
-The Penguins have a 24-17 lead in shots.
-Kennedy leads the game with four shots.
-Bailey and Moulson each lead the Islanders with three.
-MacDonald leads the game with 16:40 of ice time.
-Letang leads the Penguins with 15:28.
-The Penguins have a 22-15 lead in faceoffs (59 percent).
-Crosby is 10 for 13 (77 percent).
-Nielsen is 5 for 12 (42 percent).
-Orpik, Eaton and Hillen each lead the game with three blocked shots.
-Fire Ray Shero.
19:46: A bad start to the period. as Michalek hooks up Grabner in the left circle in the Penguins' zone. Adams, Dupuis, Paul Martin and Orpik take the ice.
18:20: Bailey moves in off the left wing and flicks a backhander on net. Fleury knocks it down and covers.
17:46: The Michalek minor is killed. Not much going on there for the Islanders.
17:10: Off a steal, Malkin is denied in tight by DiPietro.
16:38: Nielsen chips the puck in deep off the left wing. As he chase after it, Letang sticks a hip into him and holds him up. That's interference. Talbot, Cooke, Michalek and Orpik take the ice.
16:05: Comeau deals a pass to Schremp in the right circle. Schremp has a seemingly clean chance and swats the puck on net. Fleury is able to slide to his left and robs Schremp. Big save.
14:38: The Letang penalty is killed.
13:13: Sim and Malkin have an awkward looking collision in the Penguins' zone. Both parties are fine.
12:38: Grabner has a chance in off the right wing but can't handle the puck well enough to get a quality shot off.
11:30: Cooke trips up Eaton behind the Islanders' net. No call.
10:31: Harmonic blasts a slapper from the right point. Rupp slides down and blocks it. He's smarting after that block.
9:31: DiPietro completely fumbles a passing attempt from the left of his own cage. Kennedy is right there and taps it at the empty cage wide on the near side. Argh... he'll never have a cleaner net to shoot at.
9:02: Dupuis cranks a slapper on net from the right wing. DiPietro snags it.
7:55: Letestu whops a wristter on net from the left circle. DiPietro holds it out despite Kennedy crashing in.
7:01: HUUUUGE save. Dupuis moves in from the left corner and deals a pass to Talbot in the crease. Talbot jabs it on net. DiPietro holds it out with a right leg save. There's a scrum for the puck and it appears Bruno Gervais may have covered the puck with his hand. Officials immediately call a penalty shot as its illegal for a defending skater to cover the the puck in the crease. The Penguins try to sneaks Crosby on the ice for the penalty shot but officials sniff it out and send him back to the bench. A player who was on the ice has to take the shot. As it is, Letang, a regular in the shootout, will get the call. He moves in, goes to the backhand and lifts a backhander over the cage. argh.
6:48: Michalek booms a big slapper on net from the right point. DiPietro makes the save but allow a big rebound. No one in a white jersey can get a stick on it however.
6:28: Nielsen floats a wrister on net from the left circle. Fleury gloves it.
4:28: Neilsen zips a pass off the left wing to Jurcina moving in off the right point. Jurcina chops a quick slapper. Fleury snags it with a nice glove save.
2:40: Crosby lifts a wrister from the left wing. DiPietro eats it up.
1:23: Conner has a chance in the slot and pushes it wide.
0:52: Moulson has a nice chance from the left circle denied by Fleury's left leg.
0:42: Jurcina whips a wrister from the right point wide.
0:35: With the Islanders buzzing around the net, Fleury covers the puck to freeze play.
0:00: End of period. Islanders 1, Penguins 1.
-The Penguins have a 32-26 lead in shots.
4:27: Letang has a chance from the right wing deflected wide to the far side.
4:03: Goligoski pmps a slapper from above the right circle. It's blocked in front.
3:25: MacDonald feeds a pass from the right wing across the right wing into the crease but no one in a blue jersey is there to bury it.
1:32: Goligoski zips a pass into the slot for Martin. Martin chips it on net but DiPietro robs him with a huuuuuge save.
1:14: Biiiiig break here for the Penguisn as the Islanders are nabbed for too many men. Bailey will serve the minor.
0:45: Malkin taps a pass to Letang who cranks a one-timer from the left point. Nielsen flops down and blocks it.
0:36: Malkin guns a slapper from above the right circle. DiPietro gloves it and freezes play.
0:25: Malkin blasts a one-timer from above the right circle. It misses the net and deflects out of play.
0:10: Letang blasts a one-timer on net from above the right circle. DiPietro eats it up. Kunitz tries to impale DiPietro with his stick and push him into the net. DiPietro and company go nuts and attack Kunitz. A big scrum breaks out. Crosby's helmet breaks during the scrum. He has to wear Conner's helmet after the fact. Then switches it back quickly to his helmet.
0:00: End of period. End of streak. End of skeevy mustache. Islanders 1, Penguins 1.
-The Islanders. Seriously? The Islanders end the streak.
-Scrhemp is up forst. He moves in very slowly, kind of waves his stick over the puck and snaps a shot by Fleury's blocker. Really weird but effective move. Islanders 1-1.
-Letang moves in slowly as wlell. almost comes to a halt aove the crease and jams in a backhander through DiPietro's right leg. Islanders 1, Penguins 1.
-Nielsen comes in and doesn't wast time. He lifts a backhander by the left leg of Fleury cleanly. Islanders 2-1.
-Crosby moves in and attacks glove side. DiPietro's glove rejects him.
-Tavares rushes in and attacks five hole. Fleury closes the gates and fends it off.
-Do or die for Malkin. He winds slightly to the left, goes to the backhand then pulls back jaming up DiPietro and calmly places a forehand shot into the empty cage. Islanders 2, Penguins 2.
-Parenteau races in and lifts a wrister by the glove hand of Fleury with ease. Islanders 3-2.
-Do or die for Letestu. He mvoes in and attacks low. His wrister is denied by DiPietro's left leg. End of shootout. Islanders 3, Penguins 2. End of game. Islanders 2, Penguins 1.
-It was going to end eventually. But in this fashion? To this team? Right before one of the most high-profile events in the history of the Penguins?
-Sidney Crosby's streak (and his moustache) are dead. On to 2011.
-First and foremost, give the Islanders credit. They dont' have a lot of talent. They have a ton of injuries to significant players like Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit. So they've committed to a stagnant defensive system which was, for one night at least, pretty effective.
-And not to make excuses, but the second game on back to back nights with travel involved is never easy.
-Plus you have to imagine the Penguins probably didn't have all their focus on a ho-hum game against a dreadful Islanders team with the Winter Classic and the Capitals looming.
-The Penguins had chances to win this game. Tyler Kennedy biffed on a wide one net in the third period. Kris Letang had a penalty shot. And the Penguins had a four-on-three power play in overtime.
-And it was pretty obviously the Penguins were trying to do what they could to get the puck to Crosby during that late overtime instead of just trying to play it normally. In a quasi-logical sense, they put the streak ahead of scoring and winning.
-If that makes sense.
-Fleury was really good in this game. The Islanders, despite being a little short on scoring talent, put plenty of quality scoring chance on net only to be turned away by Fleury. He played well enough to earn a win.
-DiPietro looked pretty good for a guy who came off injured reserve but he had a few mistakes which the Penguins failed to capitalize on.
-Give props to the shutdown pair of Jurcina and Eaton. They limited the scoring opportunities for Crosby and his line.
-Considering how anything with any measure of success is copied in this league, we'd be shocked if tape of the Islanders' win isn't viewed by the other 13 coaches in the Eastern Conference.
-The Penguins led in shots, 38-26.
-Kennedy, Michalek, Bailey and Moulson each led the game with five shots.
-Fire Ray Shero.
-MacDonald led the game with 27:24 of ice time.
-Crosby led the Penguins with 26:16.
-The Islanders led in faceoffs, 35-32 (52 percent).
-Tavares was 11 for 16 (69 percent).
-Crosby was 16 for 30 (53 percent).
-MacDonald led the game with five blocked shots.
-Orpik led the Penguins with three.
-The last time Crosby was shutout was in a 5-2 loss at Dallas, Nov. 2.
-Crosby was actually shutout twice by the Islanders last season. The last time was in a 3-1 home win, Feb. 10.
-It Works Out Perfectly Stat of the Night: Crosby and Alex Ovechkin each have 571 career points.
-We fully accept blame for jinxing Crosby by predicting his success in the pregame portion of this blog post. We will be going into seclusion within the next 48 hours.