-Greetings on another brilliant, sunny day in Pittsburgh. It's early May and its in the low 80s. And it's a playoff game day:
-Game 5s are traditionally the most important game of the series but this one seems more important than normal for the Penguins. They've benched Marc-Andre Fleury for Tomas Vokoun. They appear to be scratching Mark Eaton, Tanner Glass and Jussi Jokinen for Simon Despres, Tyler Kennedy and the great Joe Vitale. There will be a Game 6 regardless of who wins tonight but the Penguins have been outplayed most of the previous three games. They need to sway things back to their direction.
-We've gone over the Vokoun for Fleury move quite a bit. He offers them a better chance at winning right now. But he can only help them so much. THe Penguins need to play a more disciplined and structured game as a team.
-The Eaton for Despres move is somewhat surprising. Eaton has been a bit rough the past two games but he was hardly the only one. And after the way Despres played in Game 3, his return is curious.
-Vitale and Kennedy aren't head scratches. They're fast. They can skate and bring energy. Their additions make the Penguins a faster team and can combat the speed the Islanders have thrown at them. Additionally, Kennedy has a history of elevated production in the postseason He's been through as many ups and downs on this team in postseason play as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. He knows what to do this time of year.
-As Dan Bylsma suggest this morning, Vitale has history this season of elevating his play after being a healthy scratch. We would expect him to be flying tonight after a long stretch of scratches.
-The Islanders enter this game without the services of Andrew MacDonald tonight. That's a huge loss. He has routinely taken on the opponent's top lines along with Travis Hamonic. It appears Brian Strait will take his place on New York's shutdown pairing with Hamonic, but this is a big loss for the Islanders. THe Penguins need to take advantage of it.
-Lost in all the hoopla over Fleury's downfall is the fact that Evgeni Nabokov has played worse than him over the course of this series. Granted, the Islanders don't' have nearly as talented as a team in front of Nabokov as the Penguins can place in front of Fleury, but Nabokov has let in a ton of soft goals. He needs to be better for his team as well.
-The Penguins lost the special teams battle last game. They didnt' draw a ton of penalties while taking way too many of their own. Any success they have enjoyed this series is due in part to what they are capable of on the power play. They need power-play goals to win.
-Malkin needs a much more focused game tonight. He was dreadful at times in Game 4. Yes, he had some brilliant offensive plays such as his goal in the second period but that was followed up by some poor turnovers which led directly to offense for the Islanders. He needs to level his play off.
-We wouldn't be surprised to see Kennedy get some time on the third line. Brenden Morrow has had an up and down series and Kennedy offers a faster element. They could switch back and fourth.
-It appears the Islanders will move Radek Martinek and Thomas Hickey will enter the lineup in place of Matt Carkner and MacDonald. Neither player is overly physical. The Penguins can exploit that with a strong forecheck.
-A few scenes around the building. There are individual player names and numbers banners hanging from lamp posts around the barn:
-Fans entering the barn:
-Sergei Gonchar Team Russia:
-Brandon Sutter Albany River Rats:
-Long Island's own Rob Scuderi:
-Marc-Andre Fleury still has at least one Cape Breton Screaming Eagles fan:
-There's a much smaller crowd outside for the big screen:
-The always rare Petr Nedved-Arron Asham combination:
-Jersey Foul of the Night: Jim Paek never wore this style jersey:
-Former Penguins/Islanders defenseman Darius Kasparaitis:
-Former Penguins/Islanders forward Richard Park:
-Jersey of the Night: If you need the backup goaltender to come through in the playoffs, there aren't any better jerseys to wear than Frank Pietrangelo:
-The Penguins' starters are Jarome Iginla, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Tomas Vokoun.
-Their scratches are Beau Bennett, Robert Bortuzzo, Mark Eaton, Deryk Engelland, Tanner Glass, Jussi Jokinen and Dustin Jeffrey.
-The Islanders' starters are Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin, Colin McDonald, Radek Martinek, Mark Streit and Evgeni Nabokov.
-Their scratches are Eric Boulton, Matt Carkner, Calvin de Haan, Matt DOnovan, Joe Finley, Andrew MacDonald, Brock Nelson, Anders Nilsson, Aaron Ness, John Persson, Marty Reasoner, Ryan Strome, Johan Sundstrom, David Ullstrom.
-Jesse Joenssu is in the lineup in place of Ullstrom.
19:18: Off a feed from Malkin off the right wing, Paul Martin pounds a slapper from above the left circle wide of the cage.
18:23: Brooks Orpik plays puck around the boards from behind his own net. Kyle Okposo tries to pressure him with a forecheck but Orpik knocks him down for his troubles.
18:16: Pascal Dupuis slams Hickey into the boards in front of the New York penalty box.
17:24: Off a feed from Streit, Radek Martinek fires a slapper from the right point wide of the net.
16:45: The new guys are making a difference already. After the great Joe Vitale knocks over Matt Martin in the New York zone, Kennedy hustles back on the left wing of the Penguins' zone and steals a puck off of Joensu.
16:34: The great Joe Vitale hustles up the left wing an his held up by Strait. Strait tries to play the puck in the right wing corner and is smacked by Kennedy. A scrum breaks out. Joensuu goes after Vitale. Strait is called for interference against Vitale. Chris Kunitz, Malkin, Jarome Iginla, Crosby and Kris Letang take the ice.
16:10: Letang takes pass at the left point and flings it on net. Naokov gloves it.
15:31: Off some touch passing from Letang, Crosby whacks a one-timer from the right circle. It strikes the side net. Fans behind the net celebrate and a few spotlights go off but it's not a goal.
14:34: The Strait penalty is killed. Not a lot going on there for the Penguins.
13:26: Matt Moulson has a wrister from the right circle blocked by Despres.
12:49: Neal races into the offensive zone from the left wing, uses a defender as screen and snaps off a tricky wrister wide on the near side.
12:23: Grabner races up the wing and snaps off a wrister. Vokouns stops it. Colin McDonald jabs at the rebound. Vokoun covers it up. Keith Aucoin crashes in and gets his stick up in Neal's face. He appears to high stick Neal. Neal responds by shoving him to the ice. Neal gets a roughing minor. A very selfish penalty by Neal. Retaliation penalties almost always get called. Craig Adams, Paul Martin, Orpik and Dupuis take the ice.
11:28: Streit pounds a one-timer from center point. It hits a body in front.
11:01: Boyse strikes a one-timer from the left half wall. It hits something. Letang collects the rebound and backhands it down ice.
10:43: Kyle Okposo races up the left wing like he's Guy Lafleur. He dances through four defenders and attacks the Penguins' net with a backhander which Vokoun holds out. What happened to the defense there?
9:23: The Neal penalty is killed. Strong effort by the penalty kill.
9:07: Douglas Murray plays a puck up ice from his own blue line on the right wing boards. Josh Bailey tries to forecheck him. Murray bulls at him and sticks Bailey on his back.
8:48: Malkin deals a pass up the left win to Letang. In deep, Letang settles the puck and chips a little feed towards the crease. Malkin follows up on the loose puck but his shot is denied by the left leg of a stretched out Nabokov.
8:13: Paul Martin pounds a one-timer from the right point wide on the near side. It hits off the end boards and deflects to the left of the cage. Kennedy has a chacne at the rebound but chops it just wide. Kennedy took a shift with Sutter and Cooke.
8:00: Iginla is on with Crosby and Dupuis.
7:00: Kunitz is on with Neal and Malkin.
6:15: Malkin chugs up the left wing, gains the offensive zone, pulls up at the half wall and pounds a slapper wide to the far side.
5:25: Orpik flings a wrister from the lt point. It hits a body in front. The Great Joe Vitale fights off ac heck and lunges for the rebound but can't get a stick on it.
4:47: Letang chops a slapper from the left point. which is blocked by Moulson.
4:03: Grabner snaps off a wrister from the left point. Vokoun kicks it out. Despres is able to play the rebound out of danger
3:45: Off a steal by Crosby, Iginla snaps off a wrister from the slot which is blocked by Hickey.
3:34: After Murray fumbles a puck above his own left circle, McDonald rips a wrister which Vokoun fights off. Murray owes Vokoun a beer.
2:56: Boyes snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Vokoun kicks it out.
2:24: After Sutter loses a puck at his blue line, Cizikas snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Paul Martin blocks it out of play with a stick on puck.
1:18: Off a turnover by the Penguins in their own zone, McDonald has wrister from the slot blocked by xxx.
1:02: Grabner pokes a puck by Niskanen and races up the left wing to recover it. He attacks the net and lifts a wrister which Vokoun fights off.
0:42: Tavres works his wainto the offensive zone and lifts a backhanded shot on net. Vokoun eats it up.
0:00: End of period. Islanders 0, Penguins 0.
-Tomas Vokoun was outstanding that period. And he had to be. The Islanders outplayed the Penguins that period by a wide margin. The Penguins were once again sloppy with the puck and alloed the islanders to gain the offensive zone with too much speed and space.
-If not for Vokoun, New York has a lead.
-The Penguins' best skaters in that period may have been the "new" guys, Vitale and Kennedy. They hustled around, hit a few Islanders and created some havoc for the Islanders. They played with motivation.
-Kyle Okposo continued to be a terror in that period.
-The Islanders have a 14-7 advantage in shots.
-The Islanders were credited with 22 attempted shots while the Penguins have 20.
-Paul Martin leads the Islanders with 8:57.
-The Penguins lead in faceoffs, 11-5 (69 percent).
-Crosby is 3 for 4 (75 percent).
-Frans Nielsen is 2 for 3 (67 percent).
-Murray leads the game with two blocked shots.
-Hamonic leads the Islanders with 7:51 of ice time.
-The "new" guys, Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Murray and Jokinen, grace the cover of IceTime (as well as our thumb over the logo of a certain media sponsor:
19:43: Off a turnover by Despres behind is own net, Cizikas tries to jame in a forehand wraparound but is denied by Vokoun.
18:56: Despres snaps off a stretch pass from his blue line to Crosby on the right wing. Crosby races up the left wing and flings a backhander over the cage.
18:26: Tavares Fakes a slapper then flings a wrister from the lef circle. Vokoun gloves it.
17:46: Off a cycle by Malkin behind the New York net, Kunitz tries to jab in a forehand shot off a bouncing puck in front of hte crease. Nabokov holds it out.
16:50: Morrow pushes the puck up the left wing and deals a pss to Kennedy in the left circle. Vitale rips a wrister which hits something in front.
16:24:Mike Bossy Colin McDonald wheels his way up the left wing with little pressure and lifts a wrister on net. Vokoun fights it off.
15:51: Orpik chips a puck up ice up the left wing. Iginla hustles after it, collects it and attacks the net with a backhander he slides wide to the far side. That was a creative play by Iginla.
15:41: Paul Martin strikes a slapper from the left point wide to the far side.
14:40: Malkin flings a wrister from above the left circle. Nabokov gloves it. Attendance is announced as 18,636. It is the team's 281st consecutive sellout.
13:43: Niskanen snaps off a wrister from above the left circle. Nabokov gloves it. Kennedy and Martinek mix it up a bit behind the New York net before officials break it up.
13:34: Matt Martin chases after a chip into the left wing corner. Letang tries to battle him but Martin slams him to the ice for his troubles.
12:48: Dupuis knocks over Streit behind the New York net.
12:35: Tyler Kennedy gets his redemption. Letang snaps off a stretch pass from the slot of his own zone to Kennedy at the New York blue line. Kennedy takes the pass, races in on net and snaps off a wrister under the glove han of Nabokov. Kennedy veers off towards the left wing boards and does a pseudo bow-and-arrow celebration. What a moment for Kennedy. Letang and Sutter get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1-0.
11:33: Neal lifts a wrister from the right of the cage wide to the far side.
11:12: Douglas Murray scores? Kunitz wheels ou of the left wing corner and deals a pass to Murray. With McDonald pressuring, Murray flings a seemingly innocent wrister at the net which glances off the glove of Nabokov and bobbles into the cage. Ouch. Already buzzing from Kennedy's goal, this place erupts again. Neal may have screened Nabokov or possibly even touched it. Kunitz and Malkin get assists. The "Hey Song" double shifts. Penguins 2-0.
10:22: Tavares follows up on a loose puck at the left circle and chops it on net. Vokoun kicks itout. Fans off a VOOOOOOOO...." chant.
9:54: Iginla lifts a wrister from the right circle. Nabokov fends it off.
9:10: Crosby taps a backhanded feed to the slot off the right wing. Iginla chops it on net which Nabokov fights off.
7:26: Tavares wheels his way the offensive, dekes by Paul Martin and snaps off a wrister which Vokoun battles away. More "Vooooo..." chants.
6:00: The Penguins get a little offens from more conventional source this time. Taking a little pass from Iginla at the red line, Crosby races his way up the center of the ice ,splits a hapless effort by Visnovsky and Hickey and attacks the net. He veers slightly to the right circle and snaps off a wrister by the blocker of Nabokov. Crosby races up way up the slot. Iginla and Dupuis get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 3-0.
4:59: Kunitz appears to make contact with Nabokov who is a bit shaken up. A scrum develops in the right wing corner. Nothing comes of it. An athletic trainer attends to Nabokov who takes a few moments to collect himself.
4:42: Off a faceoff win, Letang strikes a one-timer from the left point. It hit something in front and trickles to the left of the net.
3:48: Murray snaps off awrister from the left point which Vokoun stops with a thud.
2:36: Okposo whips a wrister from the left wing wide to the far side.
2:05: Martinek lifts a wrister from the left point which Vokoun stops. Crosby skate to the bench in a little discomfort. Replays show him blocking a shot by Martinek with his left foot. Crosby briefly went to the dressing room before returning to the bench.
0:52: Boyes settles a puck in the left circle and lifts it on net. Vokoun kicks it out.
0:25: Cooke slams Visnovsky into the left corner boards with a strong check
0:00: End of period. Penguins 3, Islanders 0.
-That was a much better period for the Penguins obviously. They maintain possession of the puck most of the period in the New YOrk zone and put a lot more quality shots on net.
-Don't be surprised by Kennedy's goal. He has a history of elevating int he postseason. He has five career postseason game-winning goals, sixth most in franchise history.
-Vokoun didn't see nearly as much pressure that period but he was still a rock.
-That goal Nabokov allowed to Murray was a killer.
-We're starting to see the Penguins' depth take over in this series. If MacDonald was healthy or if the Islanders had a better replacement for him, it's hard to imagine Crosby or Kennedy getting those goals the way they did.
-Shots are tied, 25-25.
-Tavares leads the game with five shots.
-Letang leads the Penguins with four.
-Letang leads the game with 16:49 of ice time.
-Hamonic leads the Islanders with 15:20.
-The Penguins lead in faceoffs, 24-16 (60 percent).
-The great Joe Vitale is 7 for 8 (88 percent).
-Nieslen is 6 for 10 (60 percent).
-Murray, Paul Martin, Orpik, Despres and Hickey each lead the game with two blocked shots.
19:03: Streit chops a slapper from the left point wide to the far side.
17:34: After an icing call, the Penguins call time out to get a breather.
16:49: Crosby steals a puck off Tavares at the New York blue line and snaps off a wrister from the slot. Nabokov fights it off.
16:03: Off a steal by Neal, Malkin has a chance with a backhander above the crease but flings his shot wide to the far side.
14:23: Martin on Martin violcne. Paul Martin drops Matt Martin with a hip check. Matt Martin tackles Paul Martin to the ice in retaliation and gives him a shove afterwards. Officials give Matt Martin a roughing minor. That was selvis penalty. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Paul Martin and Letang take the ice.
14:17: And the Penguins cash in on Matt Martin's stupidity immediately. Off a faceoff win, Paul Martin deals a pass from the left point to Crosby in the right circle. Crosby controls the puck and deals a backanded pass to Letang above the left circle. Letang dirves a one-timer throug a screen by the blocker of Nabokov on the near side. Nabokov is pulled in favor of Kevin Poulin for the second game this series. Crosby and Paul Martin get assists. Matt Martin could claim an assist too. The "Hey Song" is called. Penguins 4-0.
12:55: Hamonic drives a slapper from the left poitn. Vokoun kicks it out. Dupuis clears the rebound to the right point Hamonic one-timer it back on net. Vokoun kicks it out as well. More "Vooooo...." chants.
12:09: Keith Aucoin takes a pass at the red line and is thumped to the ice. Officials call Murray for interference. Not sure about that call. Paul Martin, Cooke, Adams and Orpik take the ice. THis is do or die for the Islanders.
11:45: Streit snaps off a wrister from the center point. Moulson is in front and re-directs it over the cage.
11:17: Streit snaps off a wrister from the center point wide to the left of the cage. It hits off the end boards. Moulson tries to jam in the rebound with a forehand shot but Vokoun holds it out.
11:01: Moulson deals apss from below the goal line on the left wing to Streit in the right circle. Streit jabs a one-timer on net. Vokoun kicks it out. Orpik races after the rebound in the left wing corner and whips it down ice for a big clear
10:09: Murray's minor is killed. The Islanders had some nice chances there but couldn't cash in.
9:02: Another penalty for the Islanders. Hamonic is called for roughing agaisnt Morrow in the left wing corner. That seemed kind of ticky tack. Paul Martin, Malkin, Kunitz, Crosby and Letang take the ice.
8:13: Malkin snaps off a wrister from the left cirlce which Nabokov fights off.
7:49: This is odd. Malkin is positioned in front of the New York bench. Boyes appears to say something to him and Malkin swings a fist at him. Both players get unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Play will remain five on five.
7:02: Hamonic returns to the ice.
5:54: Morrow slams Hickey with a strong hit into the left wing corner. Oof.
3:30: Malkin knocks Streit off a puck in he right wing corner and snaps off a wrister from the right circle. Poulin fights it off.
3:07: Tavares pushes the puck up the right wing corne and is thumped into the corner boards by Murray who separates the puck.
2:00: On a delayed penalty, Despres oes the puck in the left wing corner. Play is halted. Okposo and Strait try to start something with the Penguins. A scrum ensue. Nothing comes of it. Hickey is sent to the penalty box for elbowing Sutter. Adams, Vitale, Martin, Morrow and Letang take the ice. What a power-play unit.
1:21: Morow flings a puck from the left wing corner. Nabokov eats it up. Adams bumps into a defense. A scrum ensues. Hamonic appears to swing his stick at the head of a Penguin. A few players from each side are sent to the dressing room. It takes officials a few moments to sort thigns out. Play continues to be five on four. Murray is sent out as a left winger on this.
0:23: Kennedy snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Poulin knocks it down and covers. Matt Martin tries to start something with Murray. Another scrum ensue. Both players are sent to their dressing rooms. The Penguins will have a five-on-three to finish the game.
0:13: Paul Martin cranks a one-timer from the center point wide of the cage.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 4, Islanders 0.
-Depth was always going to play a role this series. The Penguins have more than the Islanders. How much more? The Penguins can afford to scratch their struggling all-star goaltender and replace him with another all-star goaltender in the postseason and get a shutout. Meanwhile, the Islanders lose a solid but hardly great shutdown defenseman to injury and their blue line is in shambles. The depth of each team was on display tonight in an extreme polar fashion.
-What can you say about Tomas Vokoun? The guy comes off the bench and pitches a shutout. He faced some quality shots early on and really kept his team in the game in the first period. The defense took over and made things easier for him as the game wore on. He provided a stabilizing presence in net the team did not appear to have with Marc-Andre Fleury in the previous three games. Tomas Vokoun was a star tonight.
-Tyler Kennedy and Joe Vitale gave this team such an energy boost. Their first shift saw them draw a penalty and they never let up from that point on. They played with a purpose and hunger you would expect of players who had been healthy scratches for the first four games of this series. They provided a huge boost for this team and overwhelmed the Islanders' patchwork blue line.
-Kennedy's offense should not be a surprise. He has routinely stepped up his production for the Penguins as he did in the 2009 Stanley Cup run and produced quite a bit of offense in last postseason run-and-gun series against the Flyers. He has a history of stepping up in the postseason and continued that tonight.
-Another big change for the Penguins was swithing Jarome Iginla to the right wing on the first line and Pascal Dupuis to the first line left wing as well as moving Chris Kunitz to the second line left wing. The Islanders appeared to have issues with that switch and couldn't match up.
-The loss of Andrew MacDonald was quite evident. Radek Martinek was victimized by Kennedy on his breakaway goal and Thomas Hickey was feeble in trying to defend Crosby on his goal. We have to imagine if MacDonald or a better replacement were available, one or both of those goals isn't scored.
-Another big loss for the Islanders was Frans Nielsen who did not play for the final 12:41 of regulation due to a "lower-body" injury. He is day to day. Like MacDonald, potentially losing Nieslen is a killer for the Islanders. He means so much to their special teams.
-It's amazing how much better a goaltender looks when he's not dealing with odd-man rushes. Vokoun was outstanding but the Penguins made life easy on him as the game wore on.
-Simon Despres was solid in his return. He didn't have any blunders like he did in Game 3 and played a pretty clean responsible game.
-Brenden Morrow gave way to Kennedy for a few shifts on the third line. As a result, Morrow had a pretty physical game. We wonder if fewer minutes for Morrow offers a benefit for him.
-Kris Letang had what might have been his best game of the series. In addition to his power-play goal, he had a wonderful pass to set up Kennedy on his breakaway and didn't take a ton of needless chances as he did in the previous three games.
58 Kris Letang - 47 Simon Despres 44 Brooks Orpik - 7 Paul Martin 3 Douglas Murray - 2 Matt Niskanen
-Consider this a guess at the Islanders lines and defensive pairings based on today's morning skate:
12Josh Bailey - 91 John Tavares - 24 Brad Boyes 26 Matt Moulson - 51 Frans Nielsen - 21 Kyle Okposo 41 David Ullstrom - 10 Keith Aucoin - 40 Michael Grabner 13 Colin McDonald - 53 Casey Cizikas - 17 Matt Martin
2 Mark Streit - 4 Radek Martinek 37 Brian Strait - 3 Travis Hamonic 11 Lubomir Visnovsky - 14 Thomas Hickey
The last time the Penguins played the Islanders, this happened:
-Marc-Andre Fleury speaks:
-Dan Bylsma speak:
-The Great Joe Vitale speaks:
-Vokoun will be appearing in his first postseason game since 2007.
-Our live blog begins at approximately 6 p.m. Please tune in.
-Game 1 - Friday., May 10 - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Providence, 7:05 p.m. Game 2 - Saturday, May 11 - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Providence, 7:05 p.m. Game 3 - Wednesday, May 15-Providence vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 7:05 p.m. Game 4 - Friday, May 17-Providence vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 7:05 p.m. *-Game 5 - Saturday, May 18 - Providence vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 7:05 p.m. *-Game 6 - Monday, May 20 - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Providence, 7:05 p.m. *-Game 7 - Wednesday, May 22 - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at Providence, 7:05 p.m.
-After the Jump: Just your average night in the NHL with three overtime playoff games.