-The Penguins were not granted a power play last night. Considering their potency with the man advantage, that's a considerable weapon they don't have at their disposal when they don't even get a chance to unholster it. Going back to Tuesday's 4-0 win in Montreal, the Penguins only had one power play in that game.
-Seems peculiar right? Let us point to a game from last Saturday. With just over four minutes remaining in the second period of that crazy xx shootout win against the Rangers at Consol Energy Center, Sidney Crosby tried to gain the offensive zone but took a tumble. Feeling there was a penalty on the play, Crosby slashed the glass in protest at the officials who called nothing:
-In our view, there was nothing that should have been called against the Rangers on that play. If anything, Crosby deserved an unsportsmanlike conduct minor for that display.
-The Penguins did get one power play after that sequence when Rangers defenseman John Moore was nabbed for tripping. But combine that with the power-play the Penguins got in the Montreal game, they've only had two power plays in the roughly 154 minutes of action since Crosby showed up the officials.
-Officials don't like it when they're publicly criticized. That's why players and coaches will bend over backwards to publicly laud them for calling good games. Members of the Islanders and Penguins each said kind words about the officiating last night. Players fear if they say anything bad about even about one specific official, fellow officials league-wide will extract revenge elsewhere. If players feel it's their job to "police" the game through fighting, the officials' way of "policing" things is by keeping those who criticize their colleges in their place. We've heard players off the record describe the brotherhood of officials as "the mafia." And when you hear officials who are wearing microphones for those "reality" shows such as "24/7," scream expletives at players who are offering their own foul-mouthed language, it's not hard to see ample evidence of pettiness from those in the striped shirts.
-We don't know if word has specially gone out from officials in the wake Crosby's slash of the glass, but the Penguins haven't gotten many favors from the officials since that point.
-That brings us to Johnny Boychuk's low hit on Evgeni Malkin late in regulation last night:
-With Steve Downie on the roster, it's hard to imagine someone not trying to respond to Boychuk for that. And if something stupid happens, the officials inaction last night should be the main culprits.
-On a side note, we don't think Boychuk would be stupid enough to settle a personal score with a tie game late in regulation, but he has a history with Malkin. Late in the 2011-12 season, Malkin shook up Boychuk, then of the Bruins, with a hit into the corner boards of the Boston zone:
-Again, Boychuk probably wasn't trying to settle that score over two year later, but he definitely isn't friends with Malkin.
-The Islanders switched their top three quite a bit from last night:
-New York coach Jack Capuano was pretty rough in assessing how his team played last night, particularly in the second period. Presumably, these changes reflect that lack of satisfaction on his behalf.
-The Penguins' lines are the same according to the team's web site. Simon Despres is in the lineup in place of Robert Bortuzzo.
-Jayson Menga is a scratch. With the Penguins in Boston Monday, we're guessing he was recalled as insurance. And since there probably aren't many direct flights from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport to Logan International Airport, they probably make the recall with the Penguins on Long Island, a fairly easy drive from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
-The Penguins' starters are Beau Bennett, Steve Downie, Brandon Sutter, Kris Letang, Paul Martin and Thomas Greiss.
-Their scratches are Robert Bortuzzo and Jayson Megna.
-The Islanders' starters are Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Martin, Thomas Hickey, Lubomir Visnovsky and Jaroslav Halak.
-Their scratches are Cory Conacher, Matt Donovan and former Penguin Brian Strait.
20:00: Off the opening faceoffs, Downie and Matt Martin are already mixing it up.
19:22: Letang shuffles a wrister from the center point. Calvin de Haan blocks it.
18:05: Anders Lee muscles his way by Bennett on the right wing and puts a little wrister on net. Greiss kicks it out.
17:54: From the left wing, Bennett whips a wrister from the left wing. Halak fights it off despite some traffic from Downie.
17:41: As Rob Scudier crashes into the net and dislodges it, Despres and Brock Nelson exchange shoves. Nothing comes of it.
17:11: Matt Martin and Cizikas combine to hit Craig Adams to the ice on the Penguins' left wing boards.
16:55: Blake Comeau pumps a wrister on net from the right half wall. Halak punches it out of play.
16:31: Hamonic jostles Malkin and knocks him down in the right wing corner of the New York zone.
15:52: Kyle Okposo grips and rips a heavy wrister form the right circle. Greiss gets a piece of it with his stick.
15:40: Nick Leddy one-times a loose puck at the left point wide of the cage.
13:01: Leddy challenges Olli Maatta one-on-one in the right circle but can't beat Greiss.
12:50: Thomas Hickey in deep in the left circle and rips a wrister which Greiss fights off. Okposo crashes in on the rebound but can't bury it. Hornqvist clears the puck down ice
12:36: John Tavares dekes his way into the left circle and flings a wrister juuuust wide to the far side.
12:19: A big shot by Visnovsky from the right point is denied by Greiss despite traffic.
11:49: Frans Nielsen chops a puck from the left half wall. It handcuffs Greiss a bit as it hits him in the shoulder.
11:38: Boychuk one-timers a loose puck at the right point. Greiss boots it out.
10:26: Crosby races up the left wing and rips a wrister on net. Halak snags it. Hamonic gives Crosby a solid bump into the left wing corner boards.
10:15: The Penguins are starting to get a few shots of their own. Kunitz chucks a wrister from the left circle. Halak eats it up.
10:12: Paul Martin cranks a one-timer from the center point which gets blocked.
9:26: Cal Clutterbuck cranks a slapper from the right circle wide of the cage.
8:58: Downie fires a slapper from the right point. Halak eats it up despite heavy traffic.
8:35: Despres tries to line up Boychuk for a big hit in the right wing corner of the Penguins zone and takes a spill.
8:18: Nikalay Kulemin chips a wrister from the left circle. Greiss fights it off.
6:23: After a neutral zone steal, Goc deals a pass from the right of the cage to Ehrhoff above the right circle. Ehrhoff cranks a shot which Halak fights off.
6:09: Maatta cranks a slapper from the left point. It hits off the end boards.
5:02: Letang cranks a slapper from the right
4:53: Tavares pushes the puck up the right wing, cross overs the slot and rips a wrister from the left circle. Greiss fights it off.
4:36: After Sutter deals a pass to Bennett in tight and Bennett fires a shot wide from the right of the cage, old firends Steve Downie and Travis Hamonic get into a fight in the New York slot. They got at it immediately. They didn't hesitate. Downie appeared to land the bulk of the punches and ends up throwing Hamonic to the ice. Downie now has penalties in 14 of 19 games this season. According to broadcaster Bob Errey, Bennett went to the Penguins' dressing room.
3:43: On a rush into the Penguins' zone, Clutterbuck crashes into the Penguins' net and dislodges it.
3:31: Off a feed by Okposo, Leddy rips a wrister from above the right circle over the cage.
3:11: The Penguins strike first. Malkin dekes by Leddy in the Islanders' left circle and rips a shot on net. Halak makes the save initially but allows the puck to leak threw as Spaling crashes in. It's not pretty but the Penguins will take it. Hornqvist and Spaling get assists. Penguins 1-0.
1:41: Mikhail Grabovski rips a wrister from the left circle. Paul Martin gets a stick on the shot and deflects it out of play.
1:10: A power play for the Penguins Maatta hooked up Okposo behind the Penguins' net. Maatta protests as it appears Okposo grabbed his stick. Goc, Paul Martin, Adams and Letang take the ice.
0:26: Boychuk booms a one-timer from the right point. Greiss fights it off and it juuuust trickles wide of the left post.
0:19: Boychuk tees up a slapper from the right point. Greiss fights that off too.
0:04: Okposo rips a wrister from the right wing wide of the cage.
0:00: End of period. Penguins 1, Islanders 0.
-That was a pretty physical period and a lot of it was initiated by the Islanders. As Rob Scuderi would say, they took a piece of the Penguins' skin every time they threw a hit.
-Without dismissing the significance of the lead, the Penguins were outplayed for most of that period. If not for Thomas Greiss being really tuned in, the Penguins might be down a goal or two.
-Evgeni Malkin is playing with a little extra oomph tonight.
-Shots on net are tied, 9-9.
-The Islanders lead in attempted shots, 24-15.
-Bennett and Letang each lead the game with two shots.
-Letang leads the game with 9:21 of ice time.
-Okposo leads the Islanders with 8:20 of ice time.
-The Islanders have a 13-9 lead in faceoffs (59 percent).
-Tavares is 5 for 7 (71 percent).
-Crosby is 4 for 7 (57 percent).
-Paul Martin already has five blocked shots. Yeesh.
-None of the Islanders has more than one blocked shot.
20:00: According to the team's Web site, Beau Bennett is back on the bench to star the period. There is still 50 seconds remaining on Maatta's penalty. Goc, Adams, Paul Martin and Letang take the ice.
19:46: Boychuk rips a wrister from the right circle wide of the cage.
19:10: Maatta's minor is killed.
18:48: A wrister by Matt Martin from the right wing is high over the cage.
16:51: Bennett gets thumped behind the New York net by Hickey.
15:46: Despres is in deep on the right wing and attacks the net. His wrister is denied by Despres.
16:03: Deep on the right wing, Letang corrals a puck and snaps off a wrister which Halak smothers.
15:58: Crosby whips a one-timer from the right point. Halak holds it out.
14:47: Hornqvist drops Clutterbuck into the New York's end boards with a nice hit.
14:38: Cizikas rips a wrister from the left wing. Greiss eats it up.
14:24: Weaving his way into the offensive zone, Visnovsky cranks a slapper from the right point. Greiss fights it off.
14:01: Adams chips a little wrister from the left wing. Halak fights it off and smothers the rebound as Despres crashes in. A few Islanders take exception and give Despres the business. Despres gives it back and officials break up the scrum. Somehow, Bennett and Ryan Strome each get roughing minors. We'll see four on four play for two minutes.
13:35: de Haan booms a slapper from the left point. Greiss fights it off.
12:52: Off some strong work down low by Tavares (as well as some sloppy puck management by the Penguins), Nelson has a chance in tight but can't beat Greiss.
12:01: Bennett and Strome return to play.
10:29: Ehrhoff corrals a puck at the right point, spins and whacks a slapper which deflects out of play.
9:01: In tight, Crosby deals a little feed from the right of the cage to Comeau above the blue paint. Comeau jabs at the puck but puts it wide.
8:22: Using Scuderi as a screen, Nelson rips a wrister from the right circle over the cage.
7:24: Boychuk snaps off a wrister from the right point. It deflects wide.
6:55: Boychuk slams Adams to the ice in front of the Penguins' penalty box.
6:07: Grabovski rips a wrister from the slot. It gets blocked.
5:15: Crosby deals a pass from the left wing corner of the New York zone. Kunitz is in the slot but Hickey reaches in with a stick and deflects it out of play.
3:48: Nielsen chucks a wrister from the left wing. Greiss smothers it.
3:32: Kunitz rips a wrister from the left wing. It glances off the glove of Halak and bounces wide.
2:47: A backhanded wraparound attempt by Nelson from the left of the cage is smothered by Greiss.
1:59: Tie game. Cizikas wins a faceoff in the left circle of the Penguins' zone. Leddy corrals it at the left point and chucks int on net. It his a body or two. Ciziaks jabs it to get a shot on net. Greiss fights it off. There's a crazy battle for the rebound and Matt Martin is able to punch it in. That was a nice garbage goal. Clutterbuck and Cizikas get assists. Islanders 1, Penguins 1.
0:54: Kunitz chips a bouncing feed off the left wing to Comeau in the slot. COmeau jabs it on net and Halak kicks it out.
0:29: After Maatta has a puck sotlen behidn the Penguins net, de Haan booms a slapper from the left point. It gets blocked.
0:00: End of period. Islanders 1, Penguins 1.
-Things really settled down that period. It wasn't nearly as run and gun as it was in the first period. There were several quality scoring chance but they were more of the "garbage" variety.
-The Penguins' first line has a few chances but something still seems off without Pascal Dupuis.
-Greiss and Halak have each been tuned in.
-The Penguins are still looking for a power play to work with.
-The Islanders have a 22-16 lead in shots on net.
-The Islanders have a 46-27 lead in attempted shots.
-Anders Lee leads the game with four shots.
-Letang and Kunitz each lead the Penguins with two shots.
-The Islanders have a 23-15 lead in faceoffs (61 percent).
-Nielsen and Tavares are each 6 for 10 (60 percent).
-Crosby is 6 for 11 (55 percent).
-Letang leads the game with 17:20 of ice time.
-Boychuk leads the Islanders with 16:06 of ice time .
-Paul Martin leads the game with six blocked shots.
-None of the Islanders has more than one blocked shot.
19:41: Play is halted after a scrum develops in front of the benches.
18:30: Grabovski grips and rips a wrister from the slot wide of the cage.
17:55: Spaling slams Boychuk to the ice in the left wing corne.
17:36: A wrister by Malkin from above the left circle is wide of the cage.
17:22: The Islanders take a lead. Taking a feed at the right point, Visnovsky cranks a one-timer from the right point. Lee is in the slot and gets a stick on the shot re-directing it by Greiss. Visnovsky and Hickey get assists. Islanders 2-1.
16:39: Matt Martin has a wrister from the left wing deflected out of play. A scrum develops in the Penguins' crease but nothing comes of it.
14:43: Malkin drives the puck up the right wing one-on-one against Hickey and is hauled down by Hickey. That's two minutes for holding. Malkin, Crosby, Hornqvist, Ehrhoff and Kunitz take the ice. No Letang.
13:30: Letang takes the ice with the J.V. power play.
13:17: Letang grips and rips a wrister from above the right circle. Halak deflects it out of play.
13:08: Malkin rips a wrister from the left circle. Halak fights it off. Hamonic throws Hornqvist out of the crease after Hornqvist jabbed at Halak.
12:43: The power play ends. There was little going on there for the Penguins.
12:12: Off a feed from Tavares, Boychuk chops a one-timer from above the left circle. Greiss gets a piece of it.
11:59: Okposo cuts off the left wing and rips a wrister from the left circle. Greiss fights it off.
11:10: Strome rips a wrister from in tight. Greiss fights it off.
10:59: Steve Downie strikes and this time it hurts his team. After Hickey sort of interferes with Downie at the New York blue line and knocks the stick out of his hands, Downie retaliates with a bad shoulder check away from the puck. A crowd gathers and shoves are exchanged. Downie gets an interference minor and a 10-minute misconduct. Sill will serve the minor. Sutter, Goc, Paul Martin and Letang take the ice.
10:20: Okposo drives a slapper from above the right circle It hits something and bounces wide.
10:13: The Islanders cash in immediately. Tavares hits a cross-ice pass from the left half wall to Okposo in the right circle. Okposo taps it to Nelson all alone above the blue paint and Nelson pokes it in for an easy goal. Okposo and Tavares get assists. Islanders 3-1.
8:34: Off a drop pass from Bennett, Letang swipes a one-timer from the right circle. Halak fights it off.
6:35: Bennett and Despres each have chances in tight but can't beat Halak.
5:38: Comeau chops a slapper from the right point. Halak kicks it out.
5:13: Despres is in deep and deals a pass to Hornqvist to the left of the cage. Hornqvist jabs at the puck but can't beat Halak.
4:14: Game. Set. Match. Boychuk booms a slapper from the right point. Greiss fights it off. Tavares is right there to clean up the rebound and punches it by Greiss' stick and into the cage. Ugh. Boychuk and Kulemin get assists. Islanders, 4-1.
1:55: Strome backhands a puck from the left wing on net. Greiss smothers it.
0:29: Play is halted as Hamonic and Sill exchange shoves in the Islanders' left circle. Officials break them up and send them to the dressing rooms early.
0:15: A wrister by Clutterbuck from the slot is blocked by Paul Martin.
0:00: End of game. Islanders 4, Penguins 1.
-The Islanders were just better. They played a much better games from the start. If it wasn't for Thomas Greiss withstanding a barrage, this could have bee much worse.
-As we said in last night's blog, forget Penguins-Flyers or Penguins-Capitals. The Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division's most important rivalry right now is Penguins-Islanders.
-Mike Johnson's buzz phrase has been "volume of shots." He wants the Penguins to dominate the puck and fire it at will in order to keep the other team on edge. Tonight, the Islanders did just that. It was the Penguins who were chasing the puck.
-Once again, the Penguins needed more from Sidney Crosby. Something just seemed off with him. Maybe it's Blake Comeau. We don't know. Regardless, Crosby and Chris Kunitz needed to be better.
-We noted the lack of power-play chances in our pregame comments. Regardless of why they're not getting power play chances, the Penguins need to find a way to function without the man advantage. They can't just rely on getting power-play goals, especially as they get closer to the postseason.
-Steve Downie's antics hurt his team. He was suckered into a taking a selfish penalty against Thomas Hickey and the Islanders cashed in a back-breaking goal almost immediately afterwards. Downie has now taken penalties in 14 of 19 games this season.
-Supposedly, part of Rick Tocchet's job description is to keep Downie in check. We're not sure Tocchet has done that very effectively as of late.
-Greiss was very good under the circumstances. He kept the Penguins in this game until the dam broke late.
-How good was the Islanders' fourth line? Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck were very involved in this game. They contributed some scoring chances and even scored a goal. And they were very physical. Imagine if the Penguins' fourth line had contributed half that much?
-What was scary about the Islanders performance was that John Tavares was held in check most of the night. Imagine if he was going at full speed?
-The Islanders led in shots on net, 35-28.
-The Islanders led in attempted shots, 69-44.
-Anders Lee led the game with five shots.
-Kris Letang led the Penguins with four shots.
-Letang led the game with 24:58 of ice time.
-Johnny Boychuk led the Islanders with 23:20 of ice time.
-The Islanders were 36-23 in faceoffs (61 percent).
-Kyle Okposo was 6 for 7 (86 percent).
-Brandon Sutter was 9 for 16 (56 percent).
-Paul Martin led the game with seven shots.
-Nick Leddy and Lubomir Visnovsky each led the Islanders with two shots.
-Craig Adams appeared in his 900th career game.