1974 flashback: Sp-Sputtering St-Steelers Win

Written by Dan Gigler on .

In recognition of the 40th anniversary of the Steelers first Super Bowl season, the Post-Gazette is reprinting the game story from each week of that year. This story was first published on Oct. 14, 1974.

1974 Steelers articleSp-Sputtering St-Steelers Win

By Vito Stellino / Post-Gazette Sports Writer

The Steelers continue to resemble an Evel Knievel rocket shot.

They take off with a bang but then they malfunction and come fluttering back to earth, barely managing to save their lives.

If yesterday’s game seemed familiar, it’s because it was.

The Steelers jumped to a 14-0 lead and seemed ready to blow their old rivals, the Browns, back to Cleveland and add Nick Skorich to the swelling unemployment rolls.

But when it ended, the Steelers were hanging on to a 20-16 victory and Skorich’s job was safe for another seven days despite the Browns 1-5 record.

A pair of courageous field goals by Roy Gerela, who was kicking with a stained muscle in his right thigh, a blocked extra point by L.C. Greenwood and another clutch interception by Glen Edwards eventually saved the Steelers who were 17-point favorites, from being an upset victim.

The victory boosted Pittsburgh’s record to 4-1-1 and moved the Steelers back into first place in the AFC’s Central Division, a half-game ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals, who were beaten by Oakland. But it was the fifth straight week in which the Steelers have looked like something less than a Super Bowl contender.

“We haven’t played as well as we think we can,” coach Chuck Noll admitted. “We were pleased with the way our defense stopped their rushing game but the offense is still struggling. It’s the year of mistakes. Mistakes continue to plague is. I guess we need more work, maybe we’re still suffering from missing training camp.”

The game followed what has become the Steeler pattern. The defense was outstanding except for a lapse late in the second period when Cleveland scored its two TDs but the offense continued to misfire.

The Steelers two TDs – on runs of six yards by Preston Pearson and a one-yard buck by Franco Harris – came after the defense handed the Steelers the ball on the Browns 29 in the first period and 28 in the second period.

In 18 quarters since the third period of the Denver game, the offense has produced just one sustained touchdown drive – an 80-yard march against Houston – that started in Pittsburgh territory.

Joe Gilliam went all the way at quarterback again and hit on only five of 18 passes for 78 yards but he couldn’t be faulted for the sputtering of the running game.

Noll started with Rocky Bleier and Pearson as his running backs, switched to Franco Harris and Frenchy Fuqua, went back to Bleier and Pearson starting the second half and eventually ended with Harris and Steve Davis.

Harris (14-for-81) and Bleier (9-for-48) were the most effective but they don’t play together because they’re both fullbacks. Harris played for the first time in three weeks since he sprained his ankle and he’ll probably run more in the future.

The inability of the offense to score more meant the Browns had an excellent opportunity to pull off the upset. After Gerela’s second FG – a 26-yarder – with 6:18 left made the score 20-16, the Browns marched from their 29 to a first down on the Steeler 20.

Many of the chilled fans in the crowd of 48,100 were biting their nails when it came down to a 4th-and-7 on the 17 with two and a half minutes left.

Mike Phipps called for the same play that had resulted in a 14-yard TD pass to Milt Morin in the second period. Hugh McKinnis, a product of Farrell High was the intended receiver but Edwards stepped in front of him and returned it 59 yards to wrap up the victory.

“We have five possible receivers on the play,” Phipps said, “and this time I was looking for McKinnis instead of Morin, but Edwards must have read it perfectly. He played off the receiver until I threw the ball. One mistake killed us. Maybe I should have thrown it sooner.”

Edwards saw the play exactly as Phipps called it.

“The play looked just like the one they scored on. I just sat on the right side waiting to see what the tight end (Morin) and the back (McKinnis) were going to do. Morin released deep and the back broke across the middle and I went for him. I got a great jump on the ball.

“I wish I could get one of these every week,” said Edwards, who picked off two against the Chiefs last week.

“In terms of importance, this one was more crucial, like the one I got late in the Washington game last year.” That one wrapped up a 21-16 win over the Skins.

If Greenwood hadn’t blocked the PAT attempt after the Browns’ second TD, Cleveland could have gone for a field goal on that fourth down play to send the game into overtime. But since they were four points down, they had to go for the TD.

The Greenwood block was one of several controversial plays, and there was plenty of complaining about the officials by both teams.

The Browns claimed a Steeler was offsides on the blocked PAT. They also claimed the officials called it wrong when Lynn Swann fumbled a punt on his own 12 in the third period only to have Billy Andrews called for being downfield before the kick to nullify the recovery. They also beefed with the officials ruled an incomplete pass when Ron Shanklin bobbled a third period Gilliam strike. The Browns claimed it was a fumble and a Browns recovery.

But the Steelers were irate about a roughing-the-passer penalty on Greenwood that got the Browns going. “I’ll probably suffer in the next world for what I said about that call,” Noll grinned.

It gave Cleveland a first down on the Pittsburgh 18 and the Steelers still seemed to be arguing about it when Phipps raced 18 yards for a TD on the next play with 2:40 left in the first half.

“We were busy arguing instead of playing,” Noll admitted.

Three plays later, Harris fumbled on the Brown 39 and it took Cleveland just four plays to score on Phipps 14-yard TD pass to Morin with six seconds left.

That made it 14-13 and it remained that way when Greenwood blocked Don Cockroft’s kick. “It just nicked my fingers,” Greenwood said. “I didn’t think I hit it hard enough to block it.”

The Steelers started the second half with a six-minute 48-yard march in 14 plays to set up a 31-yard field goal by Gerela, who got the game ball for kicking his two field goals and extra points with a strained muscle in his thigh.

“It first bothered me in the warmups but I really felt it when I got my foot into the opening kickoff,” he said. “I knew I couldn’t kick off anymore but I figured I could make short field goals. I just tried to get the ball in the air quickly and not hit a line drive.”

If Gerela hadn’t been able to kick, Noll said they just wouldn’t have tried any field goals. Punter Bobby Walden handled the kickoffs.

Gerela’s 26-yarder in the fourth period was the rest of the Steeler second-half offense and the defense did the rest, especially on Edwards big interception.

“We’re happy with a victory,” Noll grinned after it was over, knowing there was a lot to be unhappy about yesterday.

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Islanders at Penguins - 10-18-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


-The Penguins have made a few changes to their lineup for tonight's game. Nick Spaling and Marcel Goc have flipped as the third- and fourth-line centers. Spaling will center Steve Downie and Blake Comeau while Goc will be flanked by Zach Sill and Craig Adams.

-Aside from Comeau's game-winning goal in the season-opening win against the Ducks, the Penguins have gotten little in the way of offense from their bottom six forwards. While the third line of Goc, Downie and Comeau has been okay, it's difficult to argue against a change.

-There haven't been any changes to the defense but the Penguins could use some offense from their blue line. They have no goals from defensemen. In contrast, the Islanders have five.

-The Penguins will have their depth tested quite a bit tonight by a vastly improved Islanders team. This is a much deeper Islanders team than most of us are used to. Frans Nielsen, who has had some bright moments as a second-line center in years past against the Penguins, is now a third-line center. Brian Strait, who functioned as a top-pairing defenseman in the past, is now a third-pairing defenseman. Colin McDonald made the most out of a chance as a third-line energy winger with the Islanders a few years back during their playoff run. Tonight, he's entering the lineup as a 13th forward replacing injured forward Mikhail Grabovski.

-The Islanders arguably took the biggest step forward this offseason of any team in the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division. They took a gamble signing Nikolay Kulemin and Grabovski, each of whom have checkered histories, but they are legit top-six talents up front. They jumped on some shaky salary cap situations in Boston and Chicago and landed defensemen Johnny Boychuk as well as Nick Leddy in trades. In goal, they acquired Jaroslav Halak and Chad Johnson who are a decided upgrade over the previous goaltenders. And Brock Nelson, a former first-rounder, has rambled out of the gate this season by scoring seven points in four games.

-These Islanders will challenge for the second or third seed in the division and may even make a run at the division crown.

-A few sights. The barn:

-The ice:

-Jussi Jokinen still has a fan here:

-Johan Hedberg Sweden:

-Douglas Murray, who lived for a while on Long Island:

-Zarley Zalapski:

-Kevin Stevens has a hipster fan:

-Jaromir Jagr:

-A Friday the 13th hoodie:

-This is certainly a first. A Penguins poncho:

-A slight jersey foul here with Tyler Myers Sabres:

-Fans entering the barn:

-There are a few Islanders fans here. John Tavares:

-Kyle Okposo and an early-1990s Canucks fan:

-Ryan Strome:

-Former Penguins/Islanders forward Ruslan Fedotenko:

-Former Penguins forward and Islanders captain Bill Guerin:

-A good night for No. 10s. Pierre Larouche;

-Ron Francis:

-Tanner Glass:

-Brenden Morrow:

-We just need to find some Petr Sykora (No. 17) and Bryan Smolinski (No. 20) enthusiasts to bookend thes Francois Leroux and Jean Pronovost fans:

-Jersey of the Night: Former Penguins/Islanders forward Miroslav Satan:


-Pascal Dupuis was the second Penguins player on the ice for warm-ups after Marc-Andre Fleury.

-THe Penguins' starters are Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Chris Kunitz, Christian Ehrhoff, Paul Martin and Marc-Andre Fleury.

-Their scratches are Robert Bortuzzo, Andrew Ebbett and Scott Harrington.

-Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin, Colin McDonald, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy and Jaroslav Halak.

-Their scratches are Eric Boulton, Matt Donovan and Mikhail Grabovski.

-Jeff Jimerson always has depth in his performances:


19:10: Dupuis takes the ice for the first time since leaving Thursday's game on a stretcher and is greeted by a healthy applause and a few "Duuuuuuu...." chants.

16:10: Hornqvist chops a bouncing puck on net form above the right circle. Halak kicks it out.

15:46: xx booms a slapper from the right point. Fleury fights it off. Okposo is to his right and chops the rebound on net. FLeury scrambles to his left and fights it off. Fans offer "Fleerrr-EEEE! Fleerrr-EEEE!" chants in return.

14:49: Martin strokes a slapper former the right half wall. Halak boots it out. Steve Downie is all over the rebound on the left wing and chops at it. The puck deflects out of play.

14:14: Collecting a loose puck in the right circle, Strome deals a pass to Thomas Hickey streaking into the right circle. Hickey grips and rips it by Fleury's glove hand on the far side to give the Islanders a lead. What a shot by Hickey. It came off a broken play but the Islanders diced up the Penguins' defensive zone there. Strome and Brock Nelson get assists. Islanders 1-0.

13:52: Goc chucks a wrister from the right circle wide to the far side.

12:50: John Tavares deals a little pass from the left wing to the crease. Fleury eats it up.

12:39: Dupuis chases down a loose puck in the right wing corner and whips it on net. Halak eats it up.

11:03: Deep on the right wing, Johnny Boychuk tries to fire a wrister. Fleury battles ita way.

10:29: Trying dodge a check in front of his bench, Evgeni Malkin is tripped up by Casey Cizikas. That's two minutes for Cizikas. Crosby, Kunitz, Malkin, Kris Letang and Hornqvist take the ice.

9:37: Playing hot potato with Malkin, Crosby laods up aone-timer from the right circle. Halak boots it out.

8:39: Crosby seals a pass from the left circle to Hornqvist above the blue paint. Hornqvist turns the puck over on his blade and tries to jam it in while fighting off Boychuk. Halak says no.

8:29: The Cizikas minor expires. The Penguins had a few chances there but not much of a sustained threat.

6:14: Kunitz cranks a one-timer from the right half wall. Crosby is to the right of the cage and deflects the puck wide.

4:37: Comeau chips a puck down ice from the neutral zone. It bounces to the net where Halak has trouble playing it. He kicks out a bad rebound and Malkin scrambles down to pay it. Malkin ends up crashing into Halak and the cage. Halak is able to smother the rebound.

4:13: From the right of the cage, Malkin tries dealing a little pass to Sutter across the crease. Halak smothers it.

3:31: Hornqvist dangles the puck off the right wing and chops a backhander on net. Halak fights it off.

2:16: Spaling rips a wrister from the right half wall. Calvin de Haan blocks it.

1:17: Sutter fires a one-timer from the right circle. Halak boots it out. Dupuis jumps on the rebound in the left circle but can't get a clean shot off.

0:14: Simon Despre going in deep on the right wing and plays a little backhander to the crease. Hornqivst chips at the puck which is partially blocked by Hickey. It glances off the right post and is smothered by Halak.

0:00: End of period. Islanders 1, Penguins 0.


-After the Hickey goal, the Penguins controlled the rest of the period. Most of the play after that goal was in New York's end of the ice.

-The Penguins are getting tons of rubber on net but many of their shots have been contested so they're not exactly clean shot. Plus, Halak, minus on fumble of a mid-ice shot by Comeau, has been sharp.

-What ever the Penguins were hoping to accomplish with with the Spaling-Goc switch, there haven't been many signs that it's working.

-Dupuis looked pretty good all things considered. He's flying up and down the ice.

-His line with Brandon Sutter and Malkin has probably been the Penguins' best in terms of creating offensive chances.

-Boychuk looks like a really good fit with the Islanders. He's doing everything for them through one period.

-The Penguins have a 16-10 lead in shots on net.

-The Penguins have a 26-16 lead in attempted shots.

-Hornqvist leads the game with six shots.

-Okposo leads the Islanders with two shots.

-The Islanders have a 13-8 lead in faceoffs (62 percent).

-Cizikas is 5 for 8 (63 percent).

-Goc is 2 for 2 (100 percent).

-No one has more than one blocked shot.

-A reader spotted a Petr Nedved jersey:


18:28: Circling around the cage, Malkin lifts a wrister from the right circle which is blocked by a cluster of bodies.

17:35: Off some solid work by Craig Adams down low, Martin chucks a wrister from the right point  juuust wide to the far side.

17:03: Weaving his way through the neutral zone and up the right wing, Strome lifts a wrister from a deep angle which Fleury fends off.

16:06: Cal Clutterbuck smacks Maatta into the Penguins' right wing corner with a nice hit.

15:58: Another power play for the Penguins. Boychuk is sent off for delay of game after flipping the puck out of play. Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Hornqvist and Kunitz  take the ice.

15:41: Motoring up ice on a two-on-two with Crosby, Hornqvist lifts a wrister from the left circle. Halak eats it up.

15:17: Malkin chucks a wrister from the left circle which is deflected wide by Hornqvist.

15:02: A slapper by Crosby from the right point zips wide to the far side.

14:05: Ehrhoff collects a loose puck in the right circle and rips it wide to the far side.

13:50: Downie is nabbed for a high stick against Hamonic behind the New York net. Maatta, Adams, Martin, Goc take the ice.

13:16: Boychuk weaves his way into the offensive zone and dumps the puck into the Penguins' right wing corner. Boychuk gives chase but is dumped by Martin. That's two minutes for tripping. The Penguins will need to kill a five on three.

12:59: Boychuk cranks a slapper from above the right circle. Sutter leans down and blocks it He recovers the rebound and chips it down ice.

12:43: Sutter steals a puck off Boychuk at the right point and chips it down ice again.

12:17: A one-timer by Boychuk in the right circle is fought off by Fleury.

12:07: Stealing a pass from Tavares, Dupuis chops puck down ice from the slot.

11:50: As the Downie minor expires, Fleury denies a shot in tight.

11:39: Battling for a puck, Strome holds up Downie in the Penguins' right cirle. Play is halted. Strome is given an interference minor while Downie is called for embellishment. Downie's reputation bough him that call. Play will remain four on four.

11:16: Play returns to five on five.

10:29: Another penalty for th ePenguins. Cizikas tries to play puck from the left point but is hooked up by Crosby. Sutter, Dupuis, Maatta and Letang take the ice.

10:06: Sutter backhands bouncing puck form his left circle down ice.

9:22: Okposo flips forehand shot on net form a bad angle on the left wing. Fleury smothers it.

9:13: Josh Bailey deals a pass off the right half wall to the slot. Kulemin deflects it on net. Fleury kicks it out with a nice save.

8:38: A steal and a clear by Comeau from above the Penguins right circle kills off the rest of the New York power play.

8:13: Off a rush into he offensive zone, Scuderi lift a wrister on net. Halak traps it against his chest to freeze play.

8:01: After an ugly turnover by Scuderi, a shot by Bailey from the right circle is eaten up by Fleury.

7:04: Another power play for the Penguins. Cory Conacher hooked up Crosby as he chased a puck into the Islanders' right wing corner . With portions of the first power play on the ice that previous shift, the J.V. power play unit of Martin, Ehrhoff, DUpuis, SUtter and xx take the ice.

6:46: Martin cranks a slapper from the right point. Halak fight sit off whchis chest.

6:26: A big break here for the Penguins as the Islanders are called for too many men. THe Penguins will have a two-man advantage for 1:22. Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz, Hornqivst and Letang take the ice.

6:14: Hornqvist tries to jam in a puck from under de Haan bu no dice.

6:11: Tie game. Malkin takes a feed from Crosby in the left circle and rips a wrister from the left circle behind Halak on the blocker side. What a shot. This place erupts. The Penguins tie the game and will have 1:45 remaining on the bench minor to work with on a power play. Crosby and Hornqvist get assists. Islanders 1, Penguins 1.

5:21: Off a rush, Kunitz has a wrister from the right point blocked wide by Clutterbuck.

5:16: The Penguins cashes in again. Letang controls a puck on the right half wall and deals a cross-ice pass to Malkin above the right circle. Malkin hesitates for a moment, winds up and booms a slapper through Hornqvist's legs and by Halak's blocker on the far side. What a screen by Hornqvist. Malkin kicks up a leg in celebration as he gives his team a lead for the first time tonight. Fans offer "Geee-NOOO! Geee-NOOO!" chants. Hornqvist gets credit for the goal. Malkin and Letang get assists. Penguins 2-1.

4:06: Boychuk cranks a slapper form above the right circle. FLeury traps the cannon blast against his chest. Conacher tries to start something after the while by shoving Letang. Letang shoves him back. A scrum ensue. Letang and Conacher get matching roughing minors. Four-on-four play for two minutes.

3:42: Taking a feed from Crosby, Kunitz fires a one-legged wrister form the left circle. Halak fight sit off.

2:51; Off a rush into the offensvie zone, Maatta takes a feed from Malkin and lifts a wrister from the right cirl.

2:41: On an odd-man rush into the Penguins' zone, Hamon hesitate with the puck on the left wing for a moment and loses it on a diving backcheck from Malkin.

1:05: Despres chucks a wrister from the high slot. Halak fends it off.

0:35: Halak played a puck out from behind his net and is tripped up by Crosby. No call.

0:17: Clutterbuck gets a chance to the right of the cage and lifts wide of the cage.

0:00: End of period. Crosby skated towards the Islanders net and jawed at Halak, presumably about the play behind the net where Halak fell down. They moved to the neutral zone with an official holding them at bay. Hamonic gave Crosby a shove. Letang gave Hamonic a shove back. Officials start to separate everyone. Downie comes barging in and screams at Hamonic while pointing a finger at him. Officials send everyone to their respective dressing rooms. Penguins 2, Islanders 1.


-That period was more of the same but the Penguins cashed in this time.

-The Penguins got a huge effort from the special teams that period. They snuffed out a pretty potent New York power play on an extended two-man advantage and seemed to generate some momentum off that. In, turn, they cashed in on their own two-man advantage to tie the game. Then, they scored on a one-man advantage to take a lead.

-That was a pretty strong effort all around in the second period for Malkin. He was all over the place.

-After a pretty sedated first period, the hitting picked up for both teams.

-The Penguins lead in shots on net, 27-18.

-The Penguins lead in attempted shots, 44-30.

-Hornqvist leads the game with 10 shots on net.

-Boychuk leads the Islanders with four shots.

-The Islanders lead in faceoffs, 24-22 (52 percent).

-Nielsen is 7 for 11 (64 percent).

-Goc is 5 for 6 (86 percent).

-Martin and Nielsen each lead the game with two blocked shots.


19:34: Spaling rips a wrister from the right wing which is denied.

19:08: Racing for a puck dumped into the Penguins' right wing corner, Letang is ablutly dropped by a forehceking Matt Martin.

18:45: Conacher gets behind the Penguins' defense on a partial breakaway. Letang gives chase and hooks him. Conacher puts a forehand shot wide of the cage. Letang is sent off rot two minutes. Paul Martin, Erhhoff, Goch and Adams take the ice.

18:12: Nielsen flicks a wrister from the right point. Fleury boots it out.

17:54: Stealing a puck off in the Islanders' zone, Sutter rips a wrister over the cage.

17:27: Leddy cranks a slapper form the high slot wide of the cage. It hits off the end boards and is cleared by Sutter.

17:06: Strome lifts a wrister from the right half wall. FLeury eats it up.

16:57: Conacher dances around Paul Martin in the left circle and drives to the net. Fleury smother the puck.

18:48: From behind his cage, Ehrhoff banks a puck off the left wing boards and down ice to kill off the rest of Letang's penalty.

16:11: Tavares fires a wrister from the right point. Ehrhoff blocks it. Okposo tries to shoot the rebound but Ehroff blocks that too.

15:51: Clutterbuck appears to get away with a trip on Malkin in the neutral zone.

1532!: Downie loses a puck in the neutral zone. Nieslsen tries to play it out of of his own left wing corner and BLAM! He is simply trucked by Downie. Hamonic jumps Downie immediately and they drop the gloves. They mostly wrestle against The glass at first before Hamonic gets a right free and lands and a few shots. Downie wrestles his right free and starts landing a few of own punches. They exchange a few more fierce blows before Downie wrestles him to the ice. What a sequence. Hamonic heads down to the dressing room as the penalties are sorted out. Both players get a fighting major. Hamonic gets an instigating minor and a 10-minute misconduct. Downie gets a charging minor. Play will remain five on five.

14:09: Racing up the right wing on a partial two-on-one against Paul Martin, Nelson lifts a wrister well wide of the cage.

13:39: Nelson tries to dangle Paul Martin one-on-one in the Penguins' right circle but loses the puck on a patented stick-on-puck by Martin.

13:22: Despres has a slapper from the right point blocked by Matt Martin.

13:03: Despres returns the favor and blocks a wrister by Matt Martin from the left wing.

12:32: Off a little give-and-go with Letang, Spaling rips a wrister from the slot wide of the cage.

11;48: Okposo grips and rips a wrister form the left circle. Fleury fights it off. There's a mad scramble for the rebound and Paul Martin is able to skate it out of danger .

11:09: From a bad angle to the right of cage, Hornqvist fires a little wrister on net. halak hold it out.

10:24: Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Maatta golfs a one-timer over the cage.

10:17: Maatta wires another shto from the center point. It bounces around a bit. Malkin has chance on the rebound but can't beat Halak.

8:24: Battling for a puck in the right wing corner of the Penguins' zone, Despres is called for high sticking Nielsen. Sutter, Goc, Maatta and Letang take the ice.

7:57: Nelson rips a wrister from the right circle. Fleury fights it off. There's a fierce battle for the rebound. Okposo rips a shot from the left circle. Someone keeps it out. Fleury eventually traps the puck and freezes play. Yeesh.

7:39: Boychuk booms a slapper from the right point. Fleury kicks it out. Okposo chips it wide.

6:35: Taking a feed in the slot. Bailey tries to rip a shot on net but Spaling dives out of no where to block the shot and clear it down ice. That kills off the rest of the Despres minor.

4:36: Sutter chips a puck from the neutral zone onto the Islanders net. Halak fumbles it again and nearly gives up a goal to Sutter who can't get a clean handle on the puck.

4:03: Despres cranks a one-timer form the right point. Halak fights it off.

3:58: A big two minutes here. Downie is called for tripping Nielsen as they battle for a rebound off the Despres shot. Matta, Letang, Goc and Adams take the ice.

2:15: Ehrhoff chips a puck down ice to kill off the rest of the Downie minor.

1:56: With a stoppage, the Islanders call timeout to get organized. Halak is pulled for an extra attacker.

1:20: Kunitz chips a puck from the neutral zone up to the New York slot. Hornqvist chases it down and feathers it into the open cage for one us:

Kunitz and Crosby get assists. It's Crosby's 500th career assist. Penguins 3-1.

0:47: With an offensive zone faceoff, the Islanders pull Halak again.

0:23: A wrister by Tavare sform the left cirlce is kicked out by Fleury.

0:14: Maatta is sent off for holding.

0:00: End of game. Penguins 3, Islanders 1.


-This wasn't a pretty game. It was definitely hard-fought, combative and very competitive. But after three fairly back-and-fourth run-and-gun affairs, the Penguins had to grind out a pretty ugly victory.

-Once again, special teams were the story here. Penguins got all their offense, minus an empty net goal, from the power play. But of most importance, they pitched a shutout on the penalty kill. The Penguins needed a big-time effort against and Islanders team which entered the game ranked No. 1 in the NHL at xx percent and got it. They even killed off a substantial five-on-three situation.

-One of the big reasons for the penalty kills success appeared to be a change in personnel. For most of the first three games, Rob Scuderi and Paul Martin were the first defensemen over the boards on the penalty kill. Tonight, some combination of Martin, Olli Maatta and Kris Letang were over the boards first. The only time Scuderi was over the boards first was after Martin took a penalty to give New York a five-on-three. He played a big role in killing that five-on-three and still logged 4:16 of ice time but was routinely part of the second shift of players used on the penalty kill.

Johnston was asked about that change:

"We’re trying to mix and match some people and get in synch with our penalty kill as we mentioned before and working with guys together. I thought our players that we had together both up front and on the back end tonight worked well on the penalty kill."

Marc-Andre Fleury came through with what was probably  his best game of the season. The only goal he gave up was a wide open laser of a wrister from Thomas Hickey. Beyond that, he was very sharp. The Islanders attacked the net quite a bit with bodies near the crease and Fleury was pretty steady despite that traffic. He earned this win.

-The Penguins' power play came through once again with two goals. They each came midway through the second period. The first on a five-on-three situation and the second on the ensuing five-on-four. They were pretty straight forward meat-and-potato goals too. Shots from the perimeter with bodies near the cage.

-Evgeni Malkin was huge tonight in just about every area of the game. He looked about as dangerous as he has through four games. He scored the game-tying goal and set up the winning score with a slapper which glanced off Patric Hornqvist for a goal.

-Additionally, Malkin was strong on the defensive side of things. He had a pretty furious back check which broke up a quality scoring chance for Travis Hamonic.

-Hornqvist keeps on keeping on. He scored two goals, including one with an empty net. It's early, but he looks like he could  hit 30 goals with ease.

-Outside of a few shaky moments, especially with some long-distance "shots," Jaroslav Halak was really good tonight. He made the Penguins earn their goals.

-Steve Downie had an... eventful... game. He had 13 penalty minutes and put the team on the penalty kill a few times:

"No. [Downie] is an energy player. A hard player. I thought his discipline has been outstanding. It really has. I'd have to look at that [Nielsen] hit again. I thought from the first impression, it was a very good hit. And sometimes, you get a call that may be a borderline call against you. But I thought [Downie has] been great. His discipline has been bang on. He doesn't get distracted out there on the ice. And if he takes the odd penalty because he's getting in there hard, he's getting in there physical, We'll kill those."

-Downie blasted Frans Nielsen with a big hit in the Islanders' right wing corner with a massive hit and then fought New York's Travis Hamonic after wards. Downie was given a charging minor. Islanders coach Jack Capuano said he felt it was a clean hit.
-Downie had some good moments tonight but 13 penalty minutes is way too much. And considering he put his team on the penalty kill twice against a team with a strong power play, some of his play was harmful to the team.
-We'll say this for Downie. Hamonic is a guy who has messed with Malkin's head quite a bit the last few years. He didn't seem to do that nearly as much tonight, especially since he was physically off the ice for quite a while due to the 10-minute misconduct he took after fighting  Downie.
-GIven the massive amount of special teams play, it was kind of tough to gauge if the "new" bottom-six lines made much of an impact. If nothing else, they didn't appear to be a detriment.
-Pascal Dupuis looked pretty good given the circumstances involving his health. He was up and down the ice like a speedskater once again. His line with Malkin and Brandon Sutter was pretty solid.
-For the third consecutive game, the Penguins haven't gotten any secondary scoring. Aside from Blake Comeau in the first game, they haven't gotten any scoring from their bottom two lines or the defense.
-This was our first look at Johnny Boychuk in an Islanders uniform. He looked like a Norris Trophy contender. He was all over the ice for the Islanders tonight. He fired several blistering point shots and was plenty physical in his own end. Going to the Islanders might have been the best thing for his career. In Boston, he was never going to get big minutes behind Zdeno Chara. With the Islanders, he's the No. 1 defenseman and is used in every situation.
-John Tavares had a rather quiet night for New York.
-The Penguins led in shots on net, 38-35.
-The islanders had a 60-58 edge in attempted shots.
-Hornqvist led the game with 12 shots.
-Boychuk led the Islanders with six shots.
-Boychuk led the game with 24:23 of ice time.
-Letang led the Penguins with 23:39 of ice time.
-The Penguins controlled faceoffs, 34-29 (54 percent).
-Sutter was 10 for 18 (56 percent).
-Nielsen was 9 for 14 (64 percent).
-Christian Ehrhoff led the game with three blocked shots.
-Nielsen led the Islanders with two blocked shots.
-Crosby recorded his 500th career assist.



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About the Islanders - 10-18-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Islanders.

When and where: 7 p.m., EDT, Consol Energy Center.

TV: Root Sports, MSG Plus.

Record: 4-0-0, 8 points. The Islanders are in 1st place in the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division.

Leading Scorer: John Tavares, 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists).

Last Game: 4-3 home shootout win against the Sharks, Thursday. Nick Leddy and Kyle Okposo (right) each had a regulation goal and an assist for the Islanders.

Last Game against the Penguins: 6-4 home loss, Jan. 23. Michael Grabner had a goal and an assist for the Islanders.

Islanders Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Okposo. In four games against the Penguins last season, he had six points (three goals, three assists).

Ex-Penguins on the Islanders: Eric Cairns, director of player development; Matt Carkner, D (Carkner played for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins but not the NHL team); Chad Johnson, G (Johnson is a former Penguins prospect but never played for the organization); Colin McDonald, RW; Brian Strait, D; Garth Snow, G.

Ex-Islanders on the Penguins: Blake Comeau, LW; Tom Fitzgerald, assistant general manager; Bill Guerin, assistant general manager.

Useless Islanders Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: Strait (third round) and Johnson (fifth round) were each drafted by the Penguins in 2006.

The last time the Penguins played the Islanders, this happened: 

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (2-1-0, 3.00 GAA, .890 SV%) for the Penguins. Jaroslav Halak (3-0-0, 2.92 GAA, .900 SV%) for the Islanders.

Injuries: For the Penguins, right winger Pascal Dupuis (neck) is probable. Defenseman Roberto Bortuzzo ("lower body") is out. Right winger Beau Bennett ("lower body") is on injured reserve. For the Islanders, center Mikhail Grabovksi ("upper body") is out. Defensemen Matt Carkner (back ), Calvin de Haan ("upper body"), Lubomir Visnovsky (back) and right winger Michael Grabner ("lower body") are on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins' primary lines and defensive pairings at today's morning skate were:

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 72 Patric Hornqvist
9 Pascal Dupuis - 16 Brandon Sutter - 71 Evgeni Malkin
17 Blake Comeau - 13 Nick Spaling - 23 Steve Downie
  38 Zach Sill - 57 Marcel Goc - 27 Craig Adams

58 Kris Letang3 Olli Maatta
7 Paul Martin - 10 Christian Ehrhoff
47 Simon Despres - 4 Rob Scuderi

-The Islanders lines and defensive pairings at today's morning skate were:

89 Cory Conacher - 91 John Tavares - 21 Kyle Okposo
86 Nikolay Kulemin - 29 Brock Nelson - 18 Ryan Strome
12 Josh Bailey - 51 Frans Nielsen - 15 Cal Clutterbuck
17 Matt Martin - 53 Casey Cizikas - 13 Colin McDonald

2 Nick Leddy 55 Johnny Boychuk
14 Thomas Hickey
3 Travis Hamonic
44 Calvin de Haan 37 Brian Strait


-Dupuis will be a game-time decision.

-Adams has 99 career assists.

-Crosby has 498 career assists.

-Dupuis has 398 career points.

-Malkin has 396 career assists.

-Crosby is the first Penguins player to score goals in the team's first three games of a season since Mario Lemieux in 1996-97.

-McDondald is expected to make his season debut.

-Kulemin has 197 career points.

-A win would give the Islanders a 5-0-0 start for the first time in franchise history.

-The referees are Dan O'Halloran (No. 13) and Brian Poechmara (No. 16). The linesmen are Derek Amell (No. 75) and Brad Kovachik (No. 71).

-Our live blog begins at approximately 6 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)


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HALFTIME: West Virginia 24, No. 4 Baylor 20

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It’s halftime, and West Virginia is down to Icky Banks and Ricky Rumph as their starting cornerbacks. Daryl Worley injured himself on a diving, muffed punt. Terrell Chestnut was eliminated on a vicious block from Baylor receiver Corey Coleman.

Tailback Rushel Shell is out for now. Center Tyler Orlosky left for a bit, too, but returned.

But somehow, some way, the shorthanded Mountaineers lead No. 4 Baylor, 24-20, at halftime at Milan Puskar Stadium in a game with more yellow flags on the field than in the crowd.

West Virginia won the opening coin toss and elected to receive, hoping to give its offense an early head start. But the drive began on the Mountaineers 9-yard line and only moved backward as quarterback Clint Trickett was sacked and stripped on third down.

Baylor took over at the West Virginia 7 and scored on its first play, a quick out from Bryce Petty to Coleman. It took the Bears just 59 seconds to go up, 7-0, and that’s when they didn’t start with the ball.

The Mountaineers answered back with a seven-play, 81-yard touchdown drive helped by a pass interference call in Baylor territory. On the next play, Trickett floated a perfect deep ball 36 yards to receiver Kevin White, who hauled it in at the goal line for his sixth score of the season.

The Bears pulled back ahead with Chris Callahan field goals on consecutive drives, the second aided by a Trickett interception.

After another defensive stop late in the quarter, the Mountaineers defense started to crumble. Worley, the team’s top cornerback, made the poor decision to attempt a diving catch on a punt and muffed it, turning the ball over to the Bears — the Mountaineers’ third turnover in their own territory.

Worley was injured on the play and left the game.

The defense held again, forcing a Petty incomplete pass on fourth down, and West Virginia stole the lead with a six-play, 74-yard drive aided by two pass-interference calls. Andrew Buie dove in from 1 yard out to put West Virginia up, 14-13, with 10:56 left in the half.

Petty completed just six of his first 15 pass attempts for 53 yards finally broke loose with a 63-yard touchdown pass to Antwan Goodley.

Chestnut, trailing Goodley on the play, was blasted and injured by a vicious block from Coleman. Officials flagged Coleman for targeting, ejecting him from the game and bringing the ball out of the end zone, but overturned the ruling after video replay.

The teams traded punts, and then West Virginia turned to Dreamius Smith. The running back who had slid to fourth on the depth chart was thrust into the starter’s role with Shell out.

Smith singlehandedly carried the Mountaineers back into the lead by carrying the ball on five consecutive plays for gains of 11, 7, 6, 8 yards before shrugging off a few arm tackles and bursting into the end zone on a 9-yard carry.

Kicker Josh Lambert trotted out with five seconds left in the half and drilled a 54-yard field goal. He is now 4-for-4 from 50-plus yards and leads the nation with 15 made field goals.

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Dupuis' status a game-time decision - 10-18-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


Two days after he left Consol Energy Center on a stretcher, Penguins' right winger Pascal Dupuis fully participated in a morning skate today prior to this team's game against the Islanders. Dupuis (above, shooting on goaltender Thomas Greiss), appeared to have no limitations during the skate.

Dupuis was injured during the second period of Thursday's 3-2 loss to the Stars when after being shoved to the ice by Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski, he was stuck in the neck by a shot from Penguins defenseman Kris Letang.

Head coach Mike Johnston described Dupuis' availibility for tonight's game as a "game-time" decision. After the morning skate, Dupuis held court with the media.

On how he felt this morning and his status for tonight:

"I feel much better than I did coming out of the game. It’s still a decision that we have to make with the coach and the trainers and see if I’ll be ready to go tonight."

On the play he was injured on:

Just kind of got pushed from behind there. Went down. I knew the puck was coming. I tried to cover myself. Left the back of my neck area kind of open. The puck kind of dipped and hit me right there in the neck. I tried to get up and I couldn’t feel my arms and my extremities. Start shaking my gloves and wanted to see if they were really shaking or no. They were kind of moving. Dropped my gloves. Gino [Penguins center Evgeni Malkin] came around and was like, ‘Just lay there! Just lay there!’ I was like, ‘Okay Gino.’"

Did he think the hit by Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski was illegal:

I don’t know. It’s not me to judge that. It’s a hockey play obviously. He wants to get position there in front of the net and ended up pushing me a little bit. Maybe I should have got up. The puck was coming and tried to cover my face. Got it in the neck.

On how he felt during the moments after being struck by the puck:

Feeling came back but I had to argue with the [doctors] a little bit. It took a little while. The feeling started to slowly come back. I don’t know. It was a weird feeling. Obviously, it never happened to me and never got numb like this. Kind of scary actually.

Did the doctors offer a diagnosis of his injury:

Definitely. Obviously, you have all sorts of muscles, nerves in the neck where the puck hit. Everything went numb. Came back slowly but [the feeling] did come back and it’s fully back already.

Why he came back to the arena that night after going to the hospital:

"All my stuff was still here so I had to come back here. I went in there in my equipment. My suit and everything was still back here. Did all the testing at the hospital and made my way back here to see the guys and mainly to talk to [athletic trainer Chris Stewart]."

(Photo: Seth Rorabaugh/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

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