by Tony on 02/16/09 at 10:34 PM ET
Well, that’s a little unfair. After all, the Pens made their coaching change the night before an afternoon game. Not exactly the best timing to do such a thing.
And so despite the expected resurgence (for at least one game) of the Penguins’ aggressiveness and forechecking, the Pens let another point slip out of their hands, making their quest for a playoff spot that much more difficult.
The Islanders scored twice in the shootout, while Joey MacDonald stopped both Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby to give them the 3-2 win in Dan Bylsma’s debut as Penguins’ head coach.
As stated before, the Penguins did come out flying, applying steady pressure via the forecheck, but most of that didn’t result in any goals.
In fact, the Islanders were the ones who got on the scoreboard first, albeit with a little luck. On a 3-on-2 break, Sean Bergenheim threw a wrister on net that deflected off both Kris Letang’s and Chris Campoli’s skates past Marc-Andre Fleury to give the Isles a 1-0 lead at the 11:34 mark.
It remained that way until the closing minutes of the first, when Evgeni Malkin grabbed a loose puck in the Pens’ zone and brought into down into the Isles’ zone. Malkin then changed the direction of the shot slightly then fired a hard wrister through the legs of the Isles’ defenseman and past MacDonald to tie the game at one at the 18:07 mark.
The second period was more for of the same, with plenty of checking for both teams. But the Isles once again were the ones who grabbed the lead back with about seven minutes left in the second. Former Penguin Andy Hilbert’s slapper from the center point was stopped by Fleury, but the puck trickled off to his side, where Frans Nielsen was there to bang in the rebound on his backhand to give the Isles the lead again, 2-1.
The Penguins were able to tie the game again a few minutes later on the powerplay, using one of their old favorites, “The Whitney Play”. Crosby had the puck on the right slot but fumbled it a little bit, which caused him to backhand a cross-ice pass right to Whitney on the left slot. Whitney gathered the puck and fired a wrister to the top shelf past Macdonald to tie the game at two a piece.
After a scoreless third period and overtime, Nielsen started the shootout by beating Fleury to the top shelf with a backhand. Petr Sykora then fired a hard wrister to the top shelf to tie it up. Jeff Tambellini then beat Fleury on a wrister of his own. Malkin was next, but fumbled the puck not once, but twice. Kyle Okposo tried to drag the puck around Fleury, but was poke-checked away. Crosby was the Pens’ last hope, but as he’s done so many times in the shootouts, his attempt was very basic, and although he could have beaten Macdonald easily if he would have lifted the puck even a foot, he didn’t, as Macdonald made the stop and the Islanders got the extra point.
- Another game with only a handful of penalties. Is it fair to say the referees have begun to put their whistles away ??
- The Pens were 1 for 3 on the powerplay, the Isles were 0 for 1.
- Letang and Ryan Whitney were both -2.
- Crosby led the Pens in icetime with 26:11.
- Malkin had 6 takeaways.
- Sergei Gonchar had 7 blocked shots.
- Good day for the Pens in the faceoff circle, Staal was 10 for 15, Malkin was 9 for 14, and Crosby was 17 for 25.
The Pens will be back in action at the Igloo against Montreal on Thursday night.
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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