The Pittsburgh Penguins trudged through a game against a feisty divisional opponent in the New York Islanders who had no problem sending the Pens away with no points (or turkey) in a day-after-Thanksgiving matinee.
The Pens were outshot 37-21 over the course of the game, and didn't seem to generate a lot of chances.
Scoring was opened in the first period by the Islanders when Josh Bailey scored his seventh goal of the season when he found a Mark Streit rebound and put it by Brent Johnson. Pittsburgh would get an equalizer before intermission when Evgeni Malkin swooped in the offensive zone and, from an angle almost AT the goal line, whipped a backhander that somehow found a hole in Dwayne Roloson's defense.
Pittsburgh would stake a claim to their only lead in the second period when Jordan Staal put a shot on goal that Roloson saved but the rebounded kicked right out to Matt Cooke who slammed it home for a 2-1 Penguin lead.
The Pens had a nasty third period -- credit the Islanders for playing well and taking over the game, but it wasn't pretty from the Pittsburgh perspective. Just 1:24 into the final period, Sean Bergenheim took a heavy wrist shot that caught Johnson too deep in his crease to tie the game. NYI would buzz the whole period, outshooting the Pens 18-5 in the 3rd, and John Tavares got his first career game winner from right in front when he found Freddy Meyer's rebound.
- The game seemed to turn in the middle of the second period when the Penguins had an extended 5 on 3 power-play, one infraction was a double minor so they had plenty of time with the advantage. The stagnant PP couldn't make much happen and the Islanders seemed to rally and draw a lot of strength from that point on.
- Good on Jordan Staal for his fight against Nate Thompson (it's the thought that counts) two minutes into the third period. Thompson boarded Pens defenseman Martin Skoula in an awkward and ugly looking hit. Staal was the closest player to it and stood up for his teammate. Was it worth the instigator penalty he was assessed and basically took him out of the game? In the big scheme of things, I think it was.
- Dwayne Roloson was really good, several big time saves. And while Johnson was the busier of the goalies, he didn't look as poised or as solid as "Roly the Goalie" was on this afternoon. It's tough to blame the goalie too much, but I think Johnny would have liked to have the game-tying goal back.
- A giveaway, a hit and no shots on goal in 9:15 of ice-time for Chris Bourque. Ray's kid only mustered a single shift of ice-time in the third period. As the Pens inch closer towards health the opportunities for him to create a niche for himself are running out.
- Max Talbot ended up as a -2 on this game and is a -4 in his first five games of the season. Granted it's tough working yourself back into the swing of things when the other guys have been at it for two months, and even tougher when you're on the first line, but how much longer should this be the case?
- Freddy Meyer ended up on the game with two assists, a +2, 4 hits and a takeaway. I took note of several good plays he made on Malkin. He was impressive today for the Isles.
- In addition to the 37 shots on goal, New York also had 36 more that the Pens blocked or that missed the net. Pittsburgh only had 48 total shot attempts, so that NYI had 73 really demonstrates how much they had the puck (and were firing it). So congrats to them on the effort.
The early start of the game doubtlessly through off the normal rhythm and routines for the players today. More than a turkey hangover, that's the reason Pittsburgh didn't much look like themselves, though they certainly did look like maybe they imbibed too much at a holiday feast. There's little time to recover, as they'll travel back to Pittsburgh to face another division opponent, when the Rangers come to town for a Saturday night showdown.