-First, a big-time last-minute change in the lineup. Root Sports has a new spaceshipy looking studio:
-Someone got a Home Depot gift card for Christmas.
-The Penguins enter Long Island on a hot streak having won three consecutive games. That hot streak comes on the heels of last week's debilitating 4-1 loss to the Islanders one week ago. The Islanders beat the Penguins with speed and positioning. They were all over the Penguins with their forcecheck and created chances by pestering the Penguins defense. In their own zone, the Islanders kept the Penguins to the perimeter and forced them to put junky, low percentage shots on net which Evgeni Nabokov easily turned away.s
-The Penguins need to find a way to account for the speed the likes of Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner have. Easier said than done, but it's a must.
-Offensively, the Penguins need to get better shots off from better areas. They got goals in the past three games by shooting from closer to the faceoff dots. And if they did fire perimeter shots, they had bodies in front of the net.
-Don't take anything away from the Islanders. They're a much better team than we're used to seeing. They're healthy for the most part. They have stability in net. And all those high draft picks they've accumulated over the past few seasons are starting to mature. This is not a bad hockey team. We wouldn't be surprised to see them challenge for the division crown.
-The other culprit could be this:
-The Penguins are 0-3-0 against the Islanders ever since erecting this monstrosity with Rich Pilon and Jeff Norton included. Tear it down.
-EN reader Dane Drutis is on hand at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseaum and sent in a few photos. A few Penguins fans are on hand. Kris Letang has a fan:
-A few jersey fouls here with a Jaromir Jagr jersey and ... whatever No. 89's name is:
-Jersey of the Night: Alexei Yashin:
-The Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury.
-Their scratches are Dustin Jeffrey, Ben Lovejoy and Eric Tangradi.
-The Islanders' starters are Michael Grabner, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, Brian Strait, Mark Streit and Evgeni Nabokov.
-Their scratches are Eric Boulton and Joe Finley.
18:28: With bodies dirving ot the net, Moulson chips a wrister towards the cage. Fleury kicks it out with no issue.
18:14: Moulson uses Simon Despres as a screen and flicks a wrster from above the left circle juuust wide to the far side.
17:08: The Penguins get a chance to put their power play on the ice first. Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Crosby, Kris Letang and Kunitz take the ice. Islanders coach Jack Capuano, who has already dealt with kidney stones this season, is sporting a black eye as a result of taking a puck to the face on the bench during a game last week:
17:02: That didn't take long. From the right wing boards, Crosby hits Neal with a cross-ice pass to the right circle. From the faceoff dot, Neal strikes a a wrister through the five hole of Nabokov who didn't have a chance to get set after slide across his crease. What a rocket. This "new" power play is coming along. Crosby gets the only assist. Penguins 1-0.
16:53: Matt Carkner chases after a puck in the left wing corner of his own zone. He pulls up as he appraoche the puck and absorbs a hit from the side by Matt Cooke. Carkner looked like he fell a little too easily there. Like he knew who was coming. No call.
14:35: After a steal by Dupuis behind the net, Crosby battles his way by nemesis Andrew MacDonald and attacks the net with a backhander than a forehand shot off a rebound. The puck appears to on the verge of rolling in but MacDonald is Johnny-On-The-Spot and sweeps it out with his left hand. He almost looked like a long snapper in football hiking a ball.
14:28: Playing a bank off the right wing boards, Okposo races after a puck in the right circle of the Penguins' zone and booms a one-timer on net. Fleury kicks it out.
13:40: Paul Martin collects a puck at the right point and strikes a rising slapper which Nabokov knocks down and covers. Officials take a look at the video on MacDonald sweeping the puck out of hte net to see if it went into the cage. Officials uphold the no-goal call.
13:36: Off a faceoff win in the right circle, Kennedy snaps off awrister from the right circle. Nabokov steers it away.
12:21: Great little play by the Penguins' defense which won't show up in the scoresheet. Kyle Okposo chips and chases a puck by Letang on the left wing boards. Letang allows Okoposo to skate by and Simon Despres skates from over to address Okposo. Okposo pushes the puck along the end boards as Despres give chase. Letang skates behind the goal line and cuts off Okposo from the puck. He then skates off with the puck. A nice example of chemistry between Letang and Despres which recovered the puck without danger and without a penalty.
11:30: A wrister by Moulson is fended off by Fleury.
9:09: Off a turnover by Letang i his won zone, Nieklen lifts a wrister over the cage.
8:35: A wrister by Hamonic from the left point is blocked in front.
6:40: Zach Boychuk leads a rush out of his own zone up the left wing wall. He gains the offensive zone, cuts to the slot and leav a drop pass for Bortuzzo trailing. From the just inside the top of the right circle, Burtuzzo flings a wrister to the far side which rings off the far post. Nice play by Boychuk to set that up.
5:20: Craig Adams is called for interference against Nielsen near the benches. He hit him away from the puck. Paul Martin, Cooke, Orpik and the great Joe Vitale take the ice.
3:20: Two minutes later, the Islanders get three shots on net but offer little threat.
2:38: Despres is nabbed for Casey Cizikas in the left wing corner of the Penguins' zone. Paul Martin, Sutter, Dupuis and Brent Sutter take the ice.
1:45: Brad Boyes coasts up the left wing an puts a wrister on net. Fleury fights it off.
1:27: The Penguins get a break. Moulson takes a pass in the left circle, turns and lifts a wrister on net. Fleury makes the save. As the puck plops out of his gear and drops behind him, officials blow the whistle immediately. John Tavare is right to the right of the cage and jabs in the rebound. No goal.
1:00: Keith Aucoin takes a pass down low and tries to seep ti from the left of hte cage on net. Letang has a stick on puck against Aucoin and disrupt the shot a bit. The puck rattles around a bit before a scrambling Fleury is bale to
0:43: Strait booms a slapper from the left point. Sutter blocks it.
0:38: The Despres minor is kiled. The Islanders go four shots on net during that power play.
0:20: Kunitz is on with Malkin and Neal. Malkin deals a pass from the left wing to Neal above the right circle. Neal strikes a heavy one-timer which Nabokov fights off.
0:14: Off the ensuing faceoff, Tanner Glass and Colin McDonald talk about dropping the gloves. Matt Martin steps in and entertains Glass. They lock up in the Islander's slot. Martin has the initial advantage as he drops a few right. Glass rebound and lands a few of his own lefts. They exchange a few blows, wrestle a bit and eventually Glass's jersey is pulled over head. Officials step in and halt the fight. Let's call that one a draw. Looked like Glass wanted to make McDonald answer for his boarding hit against Ben Lovejoy last week. Dan Bylsma appears to be pleading for an instigating penalty against the Islanders.
0:05: Neal is called for roughing Hamonic behind the net. Replays show Neal giving a two-handed shove to Hamonic. Crosby, Cooke, Paul Martin and Orpik take the ice.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Islanders 0.
-The Penguins came out on fire that period and dominated the first 10 minutes or so. The penalties they took eventually snuffed out some of that momentum and leveled things off.
-That was easily the chippiest period of the season for the Penguins. There was plenty of after-the-whistle stuff.
-Zach Boychuk continued to looked a little bit more comfortable. Slowly but surely, he's becoming more and more enveloped into the Penguins' system.
-The third line had a few strong shifts. That was the best we've seen that line look since the first two games of the season.
-THe only would-be rebound aside, Fleury was strong. He didn't battle the puck much.
-The Islanders have a 12-6 led in shots.
-Moulson, a former Penguins draft pick, leads the game with four.
-Fire Ray Shero.
-Neal lead the Penguins with two.
-Streit leads the game with 9:02 of ice time.
-The Penguins control faceoffs, 11-7 (61 percent).
-Crosby is 7 for 1 (88 percent).
-Tavares is 3 for 5 (60 percent).
-Orpik leads the game with two blocked shots.
-It's almost becoming boring to point out that Paul Martin leads the Penguins in ice time. He has 9:01.
20:00: The Penguins will have to kill off 1:55 of power-play time on fresh ice. Adams, Dupuis, Orpik and Paul Martin take the ice.
19:14: Boyes controls the puck on the left wing and forces a bad pass to Tavers in the right circle. Adams steals it, turns and flings it down ice for a line change.
18:28: Grabner hits the gas flies into the ofenisve zone off the left wing whle taking a pass for Okpos. He blows by Letang and attacks the net. Fleury is square to the shooter and hold out Gabner's wrister.
18:05: Neal's minor is killed. The Penguins once again limited what the Islanders could do.
17:55: Officials are calling this very tight. Hamonic hits neal away from the puck on the left wing boards. That's two minutes for interference. That's not a penalty in the playoffs.
17:31: Malkin takes a pass in the left circle and hammers one-timer Nabokov fights it off despite traffic.
17:05: Malkin plays a puck the right circle. Crosby is engaged with MacDonald and sliding towards the play. Strait leans down to block the puck. The puck hits his stick and hops right into Crosby's face. Crosby goes down in a heap holding his face. Athletic trainer Chris Stewart attends to Crosby and they each head off the ice. Some classy Islanders fans cheer Crosby's injury.
15:55: The Hamonic penalty expires. Not much going on for the Penguins there, especially after Crosby's injury.
15:38: Letang lifts a pedestrian wrister from the left half wall on net. Nabokov gloves it.
14:27: A puck is played into the Penguins' crease and bounces around. Neal appears to kick it in accidentally. Fleury holds it out to make a "Save." Neal owes Fleury a beer.
12:55: After some hard work by Cizikas and McDonald in the right wing corner of the Penguins' zone, Hamonic flings a wrister on net. Fleury punches it away. The Islanders have generated some momentum the last handful of shifts.
12:22: Coming back from a commercial break, Crosby returns to the bench with a little blood on his jersey.
11:50: Boyes tries to chip a puck up the left wing and his held up by Despres. Despres is called for interference. Despres looked like he was blocking on a field goal in football. Cooke, Paul Martin, Sutter and Orpik.
10:19: Okposo takes a pass down low to the left of the cage and tries to jam in a forehand wraparound. Fleury holds it out. Glass recovers the puck, skates it out of danger and chips it down ice to get a line change.
9:50: The Despres minor is killed. The Penguins allowed only one shot during that power play.
9:28: On a delayed penalty. Cizikas slides a cross ice pass form the left half wall to Matt Martin in the left circle. FLeury leans down on his right side and juuust gets a piece of his wrister which deflects out of play. Nice save. Kunitz is called for tripping up Hamonic behind the Islanders' net.
9:12: Streit chucks a shot/pass at the net form the left circle. Orpik is in front and chips the puck back down ice.
7:55: Grabner takes a pass down low and strikes a one-timer on net in tight. Letang appears to block it.
7:28: The Kunitz minor is killed.
7:23: Hamonic takes a pass at the left point, moves in a bit and drives a slapper on net. Fleury fights it off.
6:33: Another penalty. Neal is nabbed for hooking Matt Martin in the Penguins' right circle. Martin went down a little too easily there. Glass, Orpik, Dupuis and Paul Martin take the ice.
6:16: Streit takes a pass at the right point and wires a slapper through traffic on net. Despite a screen by Moulson, Fleury eats it up. Great job by Root Sports and broadcaster Bob Errey to point out that Orpik and Paul Martin have played major minutes against top lines but have managed to avoid taking any penalties:
5:24: Tavares prowls with the puck in the right corner and deals a cross-ice pass to Nielsen in the left circle.
5:00: Streit booms a slapper from above the left circle. Fleury kicks it out with a "thud."
4:29: As Neal's penalty expires, the Okos lifts a wrister over the cage from the left of the cage.
4:00: Off a rush by Kunitz up the left wing by Kunitz, centers a puck. It hits the stick of Strait and deflects to Despres in the slot. Despres takes the "pass" and rips a wrister by the glove hand of Nabokov. What a shot. Kunitz and Letang get assists. Penguins 2-0.
2:41: Two-on-two, Crosby races into the offensive zone up the left wing, crosses up with Kunitz, allows Kunitz to drive to the cage and lifts a wrister over the cage. A great example of the chemistry those two have.
1:01: Sutter and Strait battle for a puck on the left wing wall of the Penguins' zone. Strait appeared to hold the stuck of Sutter. Strait is called for holding the stick. The Penguins will get a late power play. Malkin, Crosby, Letang, Neal and Kunitz take the ice.
0:02: From above the left circle, Crosby deals a pass to Malkin the left circle. Malkin drives a one-timer which he fans a bit on to the far side. Nabokov kicks it out with his left skate.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 2, Islanders 0.
-What a gutsy period for the Penguins. They took a ton of penalties, absorbed a lot of offensive rushes by the Islanders and emerged with a two goal lead.
-The Penguins have done a marvelous job of clogging the shooting and passing lanes in their own zone. It's exactly what the Islanders did to them last week, particularly on the penalty kill.
-The Penguins' third line of Sutter, Kennedy and Cooke has had a strong game. It's been that trio's strongest effort since the season-opening road trip.
-Paul Martin and Brooks Oprik look outstanding once again. They just look so confident.
-Wha t an up and own period for Despres. He was a penalty magnet but at the same time, he scores a beauty of a goal and has a few strong plays in own zone.
-Fleury has seemed strong and comfortable. Again, he's not fighting the puck.
-The Islanders look like they're starting to get a little frustrated.
-The Islanders have a 24-14 lead in shots.
-Neal, Moulson and Tavares each lead the game with four shots.
-Streit leads the game with 20:07 of ice time.
-Letang leads the Penguins with 17:28.
-The Penguins have an 18-17 lead in faceoffs (51 percent).
-Crosby is 9 for 16 (56 percent).
-Tavares is 9 for 16 (56 percent).
-Orpik leads the game with four blocked shots.
-Streit and MacDonald each lead the Islanders with two.
20:00: The Penguins will have 1:00 of power-play time on fresh ice. Malkin, Crosby, Letang, Neal Kunitz take the ice.
19:00: The Islanders kill off the Strait minor. Not much going on there for the Penguins.
18:16: The third line strikes. Cooke recovers a loose puck in the defensive zone, turns up ice and leads a three-on-one rush the opposite away against Carkner. With Kennedy on his right wing, Cooke gains the offensive zone at center point and deals a pass to Sutter on the left wing. Sutter takes the pass in the left circle and lifts a wrister which squeaks through Nabokov's glove hand on the far side. Not a great goal for Nabokov to allow. Sutter will take it. Cooke gets the only assist. Penguins 3-0.
16:46: The Islanders get it right back. On a rush up the left wing, Okopso fires a shot from the left circle. Despres slides down to block it. Okposo recovers the rebound, spins and flings a pass to Grabner positioned just above the blue pain. Grabner re-directs the puck with his forehand by the right skate of a helpless Fleury. Letang was out to lunch there. Okposo and Nielsen get assists. Penguins 3-1.
16:38: Moulson has a chance in the slot but Dupuis ties up his stick.
16:31: Kunitz feeds pass from the left circle to Crosby driving to the net. Crosby has a chance but is tied up by Strait. No call. The puck bounces to Dupuis on the left wing who hammers a slapper. Nabokov fights it off.
16:11: We have a game all of a sudden. A puck bounces to Strait at the left point. Strait hammers a one-timer which hits Moulson and deflects on net. Fleury kicsk out the deflects with is left leg. The rebound rattles around. Boyes is able to fish it out and flings a backhander by the blocker hand of a sprawling Fleury. The Islanders went to the net and got a goal. Moulson and Strait get assists. Double-fire Ray Shero. The Penguins call a time-out to get composed. Penguins 3-2.
12:02: Kennedy rushes into the offensive. From above the left circle, he uses Hamonic as a screen and lifts a wrister on net. Nabokov fights it off.
11:15: Off the left wing, Kennedy deals a pass to Cooke above the left circle. Cooke hammers a one-timer on net. Nabokov reads the play and eats it up the shot.
11:07: Matt Martin tries to jam in a forehand wraparound from the right of the cage. Fleury holds it out.
9:31: Paul Martin has a wrister from the left point blocked by Boyes. Martin recovers the rebound and drives a slapper from the left point. It hits something and bounces to the left wing corner. Crosby is shown on the bench still suffering from a bloody schnoz:
9:23: Off the ensuing faceoff, Sutter wins th dra to Cooke directly behind him. Cooke snaps it on net immediately. Nabokov makes the save. They tried to imitate the Malkin-Neal "quick draw" play.
7:11: Granber ges a step on Letang on the left wing and appears to have a chance.
6:47: Ullstrom has a chance in the left circle and chops a bouncing puck wide to the far side.
6:28: MacDonald flings a breakout pass from his own zone and is dropped on a low hit by Kunitz. Kunitz appears to stick his butt into MacDonald's left leg. Kunitz is called for interference. McDonald heads to the bench with some assistance but doesn't retreat to the dressing room. Adams, Dupuis, Paul Martin and Orpik take the ice. Grabner has a bloody lip after an encounter with Letang:
6:08: A point shot by Streit is fought off by Fleury and deflected out of play.
5:54: Tavares deals a pass from the left half wall to Moulson right in front of the blue paint, Moulson steers the puck on net. Fleury fight sit off. Paul Martin and Moulson tumble to the ice. Martin is able to clear the puck out of danger.
4:22: As the Kunitz minor expires, Adams steals a puck in the neutral zone, leads a rush up the left wing, gains the offensive zone and puts a wrister on net. It gets deflected a bit and Nabokov fight sit off.
2:41: Boyes has a little space on the right wing and cranks slapper on net. Fleury fights it off.
1:59: Net gets away with a blatant holding the stick against Streit. He literally was holding two sticks while Streit had none.
0:51: After some furious forechecking by Crosby,
0:45: Nabokov is pulled for an extra attacker.
0:39: After Tavares fumbles a puck at the Penguins' blue line, Paul Martin makes a simple bank off the right wing boards. Dupuis picks it up and chips the puck into the open cage for one of us:
Martin gets the only assist. Penguins 4-2.
0:00: End of game. Penguins 4, Islanders 2.
-The Penguins had a nice game for about 50 minutes. They controlled play. Limited the Islanders' time and space offensively and got physical with a strong forecheck. The only problem was they looked bad for that additional 10 minutes.
-The bottom line is they got two points on the road but they need to find a way to maintain consistency for an entire game. Tonight was another example of that inability to do so.
-We loved what the Penguins' third line did tonight. It was easily the best game of the season for Matt Cooke, Tyler Kennedy and Brandon Sutter. They were strong on the puck, aggressive with the body and created some things offensively. They ended up producing the game-winning goal.
-Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik were outstanding, particularly on the penalty kill. They just own that area right in front of the crease right now. Little in the way of passes and/or shots are getting through.
-We really liked the game Sidney Crosby played defensively. He was strong on the forecheck and just pestered the Islanders' defenders all night.
-Another up and down game for Despres. That said, the ups out-weighed the lows. He has gotten progressively better as the game has worn on.
-Officials called a curious game. They were very strict with things like interference but allowed other things like a blatant holding the stick by James Neal late in the game go.
-Fleury was strong once again. Most of the night, he seemed confident and rarely battled the puck. His rebound were safe for the most part.
-For most of the part, the Penguins did to the Islanders what the Islanders did to them last week. They forced turnovers, clogged up shooting/passing lanes and just made life miserable for the Islanders. Most of New York's shots were from the perimeter and fairly easy for Fleury to make saves on.
-Evgeni Nabokov has had better games.
-It was interesting how the chippiness which was prevalent in the first period toned down after the first intermission. Perhaps all the penalties snuffed that out.
-It's not fair to really just Zach Boychuk based on this game. All the special teams limited his ice tme. That said, in his limited tim , he once again looked more and more comfortable.
-The Penguins' power play
-The Islanders dominated shots, 34-24.
-Matt Moulson led the game with five shots.
-Fire Ray Shero.
-James Neal and Kris Letang each lead the game with four shots.
-Mark Streit led the game with 29:01 of ice time.
-Kris Letang led the Penguins with 25:19.
-The Islanders led the game in faceoffs, 28-25 (53 percent).
-John Tavares was 14 for 23 (61 percent).
-The great Joe Vitale was 5 for 7 (71 percent).
-Brooks Oprik led the game with five blocked shots.
-Andrew MacDonald and Streit each led the game with two blocked shots.
-Cooke passed up Dave Burrows for 63rd place on the franchise's all-time scoring list. Both players have 132 points but Cooke (60) has more goals than Burrows (24).
-James Neal moved past Paul Baxter, Wally Boyer and Ulf Samuelsson for 88th place. All four have 94 points but Neal (46) has more goals than Baxter (25), Boyer (32) and Samuelsson (11).