(Time to switch to the postseason montage.)
-It's a beautiful first day of May. It's in the upper 70s and sunny as all heck with out a single cloud:
-Welcome to the postseason. After a week of mostly dull, meaningless games, the atmosphere for this game is electric. There's a greater sense of urgency for the entire day. When the playoffs start, hockey changes in so many ways.
-Depth will be the key to this series. The Islanders are a nice team with some good young players. They simply don't have enough of them to keep up with the Penguins.The Islanders had to fill out their roster this season with waiver wire scraps. The Penguins filled out their roster with former Western Conference captains.
-We expect this series to last no more than five games. That said, we don't expect any blowouts. There should be a healthy amount of 3-2 or 2-1 games.
-It appears Paul Martin will man the point on the first power-play unit. We like this move a lot. Martin doesn't have the impressive physical talents Letang has but he offers a sense of composure you want at the point on the power play.
-With Sidney Crosby out, that seems to add to the value of Beau Bennett, particularly with what he can offer power-play. If Crosby was healthy, Tyler Kennedy might be on the fourth line and Benett would be the healthy scratch.
-Bennett appears to be set to play the fourth line in five-on-five play. We've questioned Bennett's physical game quite a bit this season and he's shown he his more than capable of handling the phyiscial demands of the NHL game. He's certainly not an optimal candidate for the fourth line but he's capable.
-Bennett on the fourth line reminds us of how the Penguins used Miroslav Satan in that role during the 2009 Stanley Cup final. No one will ever confuse Satan with Craig Adams, but he was willing to adapt to the role and offered a little offensive bite to that line.
-The Islanders are very dependent on their top line of John Tavares, Brad Boyes and Matt Moulson. They're a splendid trio of players who mesh together very well but the Penguins have shown an ability to limit their effectiveness routinely in the past.
-We would expect to see plenty of Frans Nielsen in this series. He's a really underrated defensive player. He's a poor man's Patrice Bergeron. Nielsen has this subtle but effective defensive games where relies on skating, positioning and stick work as opposed to physical play. We would expect to see him matched up against Evgeni Malkin as much as possible.
-Ditto Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald. They function as the Islanders' shutdown defensive pairing and have had a history of limiting Crosby. We're not sure if they can handle Malkin's line with Chris Kuntiz and James Neal but expect to see that duo a lot in this series.
-Speaking of which, we can't see any reason the Penguins would break up Kuntiz, Malkin and Neal after the show they put on Saturday against the Hurricanes. That was Malkin's most consistent and dominant game of the season. Kunitz just opens so many things for him.
-We're interested to see how Evgeni Nabokov looks in his first taste of Stanley Cup playoffs since 2010. Fairly or unfairly, he always drew a lot of heat for the Shark's postseason failures in the 2000s. He can prove a lot of critics wrong in a big way with a strong effort against the Penguins.
-The Penguins do have a little history on their side when it comes to Nabokov. As a member of the Stars, Brenden Morrow scored a goal in the fourth overtime of a series-clinching 2-1 win against Nabokov and the Sharks in Game 6 of a 2008 Western Conference semifinal series:
-The Rich Pilon/Jeff Norton Mario Lemieux statue:
-Seriously, how stupid is this statue that it has two players from a bitter rival?
-Fans walking up Washington Place:
-The big screen is back:
-Someone ways brings a couch:
-This person must be sweltering in a full penguin costume:
-Here are towel being distributed:
-Two former Penguins/Islanders are represented outside. Darius Kasparaitis:
-And Arron Asham:
-They have those postseason grafics projected on the ice:
-Even the elevators are all playoff-ed up:
-IceTime has the big three on the cover:
-Fans entering the barn:
-Ken Wregget has two fans here:
-Alex Alexei Kovalev:
-There are two brave Islanders fans here representing Kyle Okposo and John Tavares:
-The crowd for the big screen has swelled:
-Kevin Stevens with the franchise's 25th anniversary patch from the 1991-92 season:
-Jarome Iginla Flames:
-We're pretty sure this is the first Brenden Morrow jersey we've seen:
-Even if it's not the best jersey to wear for a Penguins-Islanders posteason series, we'll go with Randy Carlyle for Jersey of the Night:
-The Penguins starters are Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang, Mark Eaton and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Robert Bortuzzo, Sidney Crosby, Simon Despres, Dustin Jeffrey, Tyler Kennedy, Brooks Oprik and the great Joe Vitale.
-The Islanders' starters are Brad Boyles, Matt Moulson, John Tavares, Travis Hamonic, Andrew MacDonald and Evgeni Nabokov.
-Their scratches are Eric Boulton, Matt Carkner, Matt Donovan, Calvin de Haan, Joe Finley, Jesse Joensuu, Anders Lee, Radek Martinek, Brock Nelson, Aaron Ness, Anders Nilsson, John Persson, Ryan Strome, Johan Sundstrom and David Ullstrom.
-Lots of towels and lots of white light in this place:
-Jeff Jimerson, in a tuxedo, handles business:
20:00: At 7:40 p.m., EDT, the Penguins' pursuit of the Stanley Cup begins with Malkin losing a faceoff to John Taveares.
19:41: Taking a pass from Neal in the neutral zone, Malkin attacks the offensive zone one-on-one against MacDonald he veers to his right and flings a backhander on net. Nabokov eats it up.
18:46: Matt Cooke slams Thomas Hickey into the right wing boards of the New York zone with a strong soulder check with gets the crowd going.
18:20: Hickey chirps Cooke after the hit. As they skate towards the New York bench, Cooke even appears to invite Hickey to a fight as he shakes his hands suggesting he will drop the gloves. Former Penguin Brian Strait tags Cooke with a blindside hit while coming off bench away from the puck. That's an easy interference penalty. That was a vivid display of a lack of postseason experience. Malkin, Kunitz, Neal, Iginla and Letang take the ice. So much for Paul Martin manning the power play.
17:55: Off a turnover by Malkin at his own blue line, Michael Grabner recovers the the puck on the right wing, drives up the boards and flings a wrister on net. Fleury eats it up. That was a sloppy play By Malkin.
17:10: Off a pass from Kunitz, Malkin twists inside MacDonald in the left circle and rips a wrister which Nabokov fights off.
16:55: Iginla booms a one-timer from the left circle which strikes Nabokov in the helmet. Nabokov goes down in a haze and lays on the ice in discomfort. He stays there for a few seconds before popping up. An official checks on him and play resumes.
16:48: Letang chops a slapper a slap-pass from the right point. Jussi Jokinen is cutting through the crease and re-directs it on net. Nabokov kicks it out.
16:40: A slapper by Paul Martin from center point is booted out Nabokov.
16:30: Who need experience? Malkin pushes a little pass from the right point to rookie Beau Bennett driving up the right wing. Bennett gets a step on MacDonald, veers to the net from the right circle and lifts a tight wrister juuust over the left shoulder of Nabokov on the near side and under the cross bar. What a shot! There was no room for error on that. The Penguins got a big break on that power play. The Islanders tried to clear the puck but it struck an official in the neutral zone and prevented the Islander from getting a line change. Malkin and Martin get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 1-0.
15:46: Fleury backs it up. Cizikas whips a wrister from the right wing. Fleury fights it offif off but allows a rebound. Cizikas beats Niskanen to the rebound and shuffles it on net. Fleury smothers it to freeze play.
15:37: Hickey appears to get away with a hold on Jokinen in the neutral zone.
15:04: Nielsen chops a one-timer form the left circle but Mark Eaton blocks it.
14:38: Off a feed from Okposo, Hamonic booms a one-timer form the right point. Fleury gloves it.
13:14: As Doulgas Murray skates in offsides, play is blown dead. Matt Martin tries to get something sparked for his team and exchanges a shove with Murray. He sort of "bumped" off Murray like he was made of cinder blocks however.
13:08: Letang gains the zone down the slot and flings a wrister on net. Nabokov eats it up.
10:29: Cizikas drops Niskanen with a strong c heck into the right wing corner of the Penguins' zone.
10:20: Marty Reasoner flings a wrister from the right half wall. Fleury steers it awy
10:02: Granber jumps on a loose puck in the left circle and chops it on net. Eaton is able to get a stick on puck and deflects the shot out of play.
8:33: Morrow rushes into the Islanders' zone on the right wing boards and runs over Tavares with a strong forecheck.
6:38: The Penguins go to the net and cash in. Pushing a puck into the New York zone, Iginla snaps off a wrister which hits a body and bounces towards the cage. Adams pesters the New York crease with a few shot attempts which aren't put on the net cleanly but the Islanders struggle to clear them. Igina snaps off a wrister which Nabokov kicks out. As Nabokov scrambles out of the blue paint, Dupuis is able to punch it in with a backhander. What a crazy scramble. Adams and Iginla get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 2-0.
4:59: The Islanders gets a chance to get on the scoreboard as Cooke hits Moulson near the New York blue line inf ront of the Islanders' penalty box. It looked like the Islanders were attempting to play the puck up the boards and Moulson faked contact with the puck and drew in Cooke who dropped him with a shoulder check into the boards. That was a subtle play by Moulson. That's two minute for interference. Sutter, Murray, Adams and Paul Martin take the ice.
3:48: Playing hot potato with Streit, Visnovsky takes a pass above the left circle, fakes a shot then chosp a slapper on net. Fleury is square to the shot and eats it up as Moulson screens.
2:59: The Cooke minor is killed. The Penguins really limited the Islanders' looks at the net.
2:09: Kunitz and Malkin each have chances in tight but can't get a clean shot behind Nabokov.
1:36: Matt Martin and Murray race for a puck int he left wing corner of the Penguins' zone. Martin gets to it first but is slammed to the boards and dropped by Murray.
0:43: The Penguins stay aggressive late in the period and get a power play. Branson Sutter pushes the puck deep up the left wing and gets "hugged" from behind by Streit. That's two minutes for holding. Kunitz, Malkin, Iginla, Neal and Letnag take the ice.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Islanders 0.
-How one-sided was that period? One team looked like it knew hat to do. The other looked like it was completely ost.
-The Islanders looked overwhelmed by the atmosphere and the intesity of the first period. The Penguins looked like they very comfortable.
-It's been a common comparison offered repeatedly this week, but this Islanders team looked like the Penguins in the 2007 postseason. Inexperienced. Remember Game 1 of that Eastern Conference quarterfinal series? The Penguins looked like they had no idea what was awaiting them. The Islanders have that same look.
-If not for Evgeni Nabokov, this game is a lot more one-side. He prevented a lot of damage that period.
-The Penguins third line was very impressive. Cooke and Morrow were hitting anything in white while Sutter was responsible in his own zone.
-Marc-Andre Fleury was called on to make a few tough saves. He didn't have an easy period by any means.
-Murray and Matt Martin didn't waste anytime getting acquainted with one another. Those two are going to go at it this entire series.
-The Penguins have a 13-8 lead in shots.
-Malkin leads the game with three shots.
-Cizikas and Visnovsky each lead the Islanders with two shots.
-Letang leads the game with 9:39 of ice time.
-MacDonald leads the Islanders with 8:38.
-The Islanders have a 15-14 edge in faceoffs (52 percent).
-Tavares is 4 for 6 (67 percent).
-Sutter is 5 for 9 (56 percent).
-Eaton leads the game with five blocked shots.
-Fire Garth Snow.
-Hickey leads the Islanders with two blocked shots.
20:00: The Penguins will have 1:17 of power-play time on fresh ice.
19:06: Things get worse for the Islanders as Reasoner is nabbed for tripping Malkin on the right wing wall of the New York zone. The Penguins will have 23 seconds of a five on three.
18:41: The Penguins cash in immediately. Taking a pass in the left circle, Iginla leans down and taps it to Letang above the circle. Letang holds, holds, holds and rips a wrister from the circle which blows by Nabokov on the near side. What a shot. Like Bennett's, there was little room for error on that. Iginla and Malkin get assists. The "Hey Song" is played. Penguins 3-0.
18:09: The rout is on. Off a wrister by Eaton from the left point, Dupuis is able to settle a puck in the slot, get a little space and flips a backhander by the glove hand of a diving Nabokov. It's his second goal of the game Islanders goaltender Kevin Poulin replaces Nabokov. Eaton and Jokinen get assists. The "Hey Song" is double shifted. Penguins 4-0.
16:51: Malkin gets a pass on the right wing and whips a wrister over the cage.
14:54: Tavares whips a wrister from high slot wide to the right of the cage.
13:00: Paul Martin goes all Bobby Orr and nearly scores. He coasts up the right wing with the puck on his backhand. He gets by a check from MacDonald, skates behind the cage and whips a backhander on net from the left wide. Poulin is able to hold it out with his blocker.
12:19: Bennett snaps off a wrister from the lef circle which is blocked by Streit.
11:38: Attendance is announced as 18,612. It is the team's 279th consecutive sellout.
11:02: Glass slams MacDonald with a solid hit into the left wing corner boards of the New YOrk zone.
9:25: Letang slams Tavares into the right wing boards of the Penguins' zone with a strong hit.
9:15: Chasing after a dump-in by the Islanders into the Penguins' end boards, Letang pulls up and sicks a shoulder into the chest of Tavares who is chasing. Tavares pops up to brace for the hit but goes down hard. He's taken a few solid hits this game thus far.
9:00: Off a turnover by the Penguins at their own blue line, Nielsen has a chance in the slot. His backhanded attempt is interrupted however on a strong backcheck by Sutter who strips him of the puck.
7:36: It appears Grabner were trying to hook up on on that Sean Bergenheim-Dominic Moore play the Lightning had some success with a few years ago against the Penguins. Grabner sends back a poor pass however which doesn't connect with McDonald.
7:09: Off a strong forecheck, Cooke and Morrow each have a chance in tight but but can't beat Poulin.
6:53: When Tanner Glass scores, you know it's one-sided. Battling for puck possession in the left circle, he simply snaps off a wrister from the left circle which sneaks through the gear of Poulin and into the cage. That was an awful goal for Poulin to allow. Jokinen gets the only assist. The "Hey Song" is never awful. Penguins 5-0.
6:29: On a delayed penalty, Vinsovsky pumps a big slapper on net from the right point. Fleury kicks iout.
6:15: The Islanders get their second power play of the game as Letang is called for hooking Boyes. Murray, Jokinen, Dupuis and Martin take the ice.
5:40: Boyes sneaks in off the left wing boards and snaps off a low wrister which Fleury kicks out.
4:09: As the Letang minor expires, Bailey settles a puck shot behind the cage and tries to jame i a forehand attemp from the right of the cage. Fleury is able to kick his left leg to the post and fight off the puck.
2:21: Off a pass from Sutter, Iginla pumps a one-timer from the left circle which Visnovsky blocks with a stick.
2:05: Jokinen snaps off a wrister from the left circle which Poulin battles away
1:58: Bennett wheels off a check and whips a wrister from the right circle. Poulin gloves it.
0:21: Off a pass by Boyes, Moulson snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Fleuryf giths it off.
0:07: Malkin is called for high sticking Moulson. THat's two minutes.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 5, Islanders 0.
-First things first, James Neal has not recorded a shift since there was 16:17 remaining in the period. There is no word on his status.
-How evident is the discrepancy in depth between these teams? The Penguins are getting goals from fourth liners while the Islanders' top line is being bottled up by a focused defensive approach by the Penguins.
-The Penguins' third line has been a terror tonight. Morrow, Sutter and Cooke have caused so many problems for the Islanders. Cooke seems to be agitating them to no end.
-It's hard to blame Nabokov for this. He was in a shooting gallery.
-It doesnt' matter who he plays with, Pascal Dupuis just produces. Both of his goals were in tight and the result of hard work.
-The Penguins have a 21-18 advantage in shots.
-Malkin and Visnovsky each lead the game with four shots.
-Letang leads the game with 18:51 of ice time.
-Hamonic leads the Islanders with 16:37.
-The Islanders have a 26-22 advantage in faceoffs (54 percent).
-Sutter is 8 for 14 (57 percent).
-Tavares is 7 for 6 (54 percent).
-Eaton leads the game with five blocked shots.
-Fire Garth Snow.
-Hickey leads the Islanders with two blocked shots.
20:00: The Islanders will have 1:52 of power-play time on fresh ice. Adams, Martin, Murray and Cooke take the ice.
19:26: Tavares coasts into the right circle and attempts a wrister but Cooke is able strip him of the puck from behind and whips it down ice.
19:05: Boyes launches a one-timer from the right half wall wide to the far side.
18:37: Letang blocks a wrister by McDonald from the left wing.
18:29: MacDonald pumps a one-timer from the right point which Fleury juuuust gets a piece of with his glove and deflects over the cage.
18:10: With the Penguins running around int heir zone, Nielsen is able to snaps off a wrister from the left circle. Fleury is able to swim to his right and eat up the shot whil on his knees.
18:07: The Malkin minor is killed. The Islanderss generated a few solid chances there.
16:56: Another penalty for the Penguins. Murray is called for holding Josh Bailey in the left circle of the Penguins' zone. Eaton, Cooke, Letang and Sutter take the ice.
16:43: Tavares has a chance int he right circle. He windes up for a one-timer but fans on the shot.
15:43: Adams and Morro eat up some time with a strong forecheck which pins the puck and a few Islanders to the right wing wall of hte New York zone. Penguins fans applaud the effort.
14:56: The Murray penalty is killed. A wondeful effort by the Penguins.
12:34: Letang huslte up the left wing and lifts a wrister on net from the left circle. Poulin deflects it out of play with his right shoulder.
10:55: Off a feed from Jokinen below the goal line, Dupuis has a chance at the hat trick. His one-timer from the left ciicle is fought off by Poulin.
10:16: Iginla pumps a one-timer from the lef circle which hits Adams in front of the blue paint. Adams settles the puck and tries to jam in a backhander which Poulin fights off.
10:03: Reasoner races after a loose puck on the left wing wall and whips a wrister on net from a bad angle.
8:30: Off a strong forecheck by Cooke, Morrow and Sutter, Niskanen flings a wrister from the left point wide on the near side.
7:58: Okposo races into the offensive zone with speed and rips a wrister from the slot over the cage.
5:56: Bennett has a chanc witha puck in t he right circle but Streit backchecks and knocks the puck away.
5:16: Cizikas races in on a forecheck against Murray. Murray braces for the hit and both players stumble a bit after contact.
4:52: Kunitz spins off a check behind the New York Cage and deals a pass to Jokinen above the blue paint. Jokinen jabs a little shot on net which Poulin eats up. During a stoppage, "Cotton-Eyed Joe" is played:
4:12: Fleury wants that goose eg. Macdonald flings a wrister fromt he left point. Bailey is front of Fleury and re-directs the puck on net with the forehand of his stick. Fleury is able to snag the deflected puck with his glove. Fans offer "FLERRR-EEEE!" chants.
3:30: Grabner has a wrister from the left dot blocked by Eaton.
2:58: Fans start a very permature "We Want The Cup."
2:45: Tavares controls the puck just outside the Penguins' blue line
2:28: Matt Martin tries to star something with Morrow behind the New York net.
2:10: Things get ugly towards the end as Reasoner trips up Jokinen near the Penguins' blue line. A scum develops in front of the penalty bogs. Iginla and Aucoin are jawing with one another. Jokinen is on the ice in discomfort. Athletic trainer Chris Stewart attend to him. He eventually recovers to his skates and heads to the bench and dressing room under his own power. Officials take several minutes to sort things out. The Penguins end up with a power play as Reasoner gets a major and a game misconduct. A whole mess of penalties are doled out. The Penguins get a power play. Adams, Glass, Morrow, Engelland and Eaton take the ice.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 5, Islanders 0.
-Remember the first postseason game this group of Penguins played in back in 2007 against a grizzled and loaded Senators team? It was Game 1 of the an Eastern Conference postseason series. The Penguins were young, full of energy but short on experience in the postseason. The Senators were veterans of several postseason runs which came up short. They had motivation and experience on their side. In that game, the Senators were hitting anything in white from the opening faceoff. That's kind of what happened tonight.
-The Penguins gave the Islanders a lesson in playoff hockey. They showed the Islanders that a mix of intesity and composure are required for the postseason. Just 1:40 into the game, Matt Cooke dropped Thomas Hickey with a clean, hard check into the boards. Hickey chirped at Cooke and Brian Strait smacked Cooke with a retaliatory hit away from the puck. Officials sent Strait to the penalty box. Their playoff lives were barely past the embryonic stage and the Islanders lost their cool. Beau Bennett cashed in on the power play and the Islanders had already paid a price for their lack of disicpline.
-Defensively, the Penguins squeezed the life out of the Islanders' top line. The third line of Brandon Sutter, Matt Cooke at particularly Brenden Morrow beat the daylights out of Tavares. The defensive pairing of Kris Letang and Mark Eaton drew nearly every five-on-five assignement against that line as well. As a result, the line of Matt Moulson (2), Tavares (0) and Boyes (2) combined to record only four shots.
-That's where the difference in depth was really evident. Presumably, with Tavares, Moulson and Boyes drawing so much attention, that would have opened up things for other members of the Islanders. But New York's second line of Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey simply didn't generate much.
-Special teams were huge. The Penguins went 2 for 4 on the power play while the Islanders went 0-for-4 on the power play. Defensively, the Penguins simply limited the speed the Islanders gained the zone with and clogged up the shooting and passing lanes.
-Dan Bylsma did not provide updates on James Neal or Jussi Jokinen.
-We guess Marc-Andre Fleury can still play. It's amazing how much better a goaltender looks when he has a compentent defense in front of him. Fleury made plenty of high quality saves but he wasn't bombarded with odd-man rushes the way he was against the Flyers last postseason.
-How much of a terror was the Penguins' third line? Matt Cooke looked like the Matt Cooke of old or even Jarkko Ruutu. He just agitated the daylights of the Islanders. Brenden Morrow looked like he was trying to prove something with every hit he laid out. And Brandon Sutter was strong in the Penguins' defensive zone. Cooke and Sutter even drew a few penalties which led to power plays. The third line was the best line for either team.
-No one in their right mind should blame Evgeni Nabokov or Kevin Poulin for this game. They were not treated well by their teammates who gave the Penguins way too many high quality scoring chances.
-Pascal Dupuis is just a game. He functions at a highly productive level regardless of who he's teamed with. His goals tonight were evidence of that.
-Evgeni Malkin has had better games. But he still looked pretty dangerous most of night. He was a major key to tonight's power play.
-Shots were tied, 26-26.
-Lubomir Visnovsky led the game with five shots.
-Malkin led the Penguins with four.
-Letang led the game with 25:20 of ice time.
-Andrew MacDonald led the Islanders with 22:56.
-The Islanders led in faceoffs, 32-30 (52 percent).
-Keith Aucoin was 6 for 7 (86 percent).
-Malkin was 9 for 18 (50 percent).
-Mark Eaton led the game with eight blocked shots.
-MacDonald led the Islanders with four blocked shots.
-Fleury recorded his sixth career postseason shutout. He tied the franchise record initially set by Tom Barrasso.
-Beau Bennett became the first Penguins rookie to score in his career postseason game since Jordan Staal did it against the Senators in 2007 in that same Game 1 we described earlier.
-Malkin recorded his 50th and 51st career postseason assist.
-Tanner Glass scored his first career postseason goal.