Are you guys still awake, because the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. NY Islanders game 5 was not one that will make many year end videos...Unless the video is like one of those soothing CD's of waves crashing or night tones to help people fall asleep. On to the bullets already:
- Minus Sidney Crosby, this game sort of had the feel of the Penguins other recent game sans Sid...In that game against the Ducks, Matt Cooke provided a shot in the arm with two goals and the Pens hung on for a 3-1 win. Here neither Cookie nor any other grinder could get on the board, though not for a lack of effort.
- The Penguins did do a lot of the little things right, they won 63% of the faceoffs and the big two (Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal) won 70.6% of their 34 draws.
- The welcome back Sarge tour appears to be over; Sergei Gonchar played 26:26 tonight, had the primary assist on the game's only goal, two shots on net (with five more blocked or missed), one takeaway and no giveaways. Sounds like back to Norris Trophy form to me.
- Brooks Orpik padded his stats for the black and blue trophy with 6 hits and 5 blocked shots.
- Marc-Andre Fleury wasn't tested too much, the Isles are the dead last in the league in goals for as well as in the standings after all, but still he stood tall when he had to. The Islanders competed and went into the traffic zones to try to snag a goal or two. As was much of the game, it wasn't that pretty, but MAF kept the puck out of the net 21 times out of 21. Can't ask a goalie for any more than that.
- Brendan Witt is now up to (down to?) a plus/minus of -30. That's enough to wrestle the green jacket away from Tiger Woods!
- Yes, the power play was still a uber-frustrating 0-3, but they did get things setup in the zone and had some nice puck movement with Gonchar and Kris Letang running the points. Jordan Staal even got his nose dirty in front of the net. Gotta crawl before you can walk, right?
- Evgeni Malkin tried to put the team on his back. 24+ minutes of play with all sorts of linemates and a big hand on the only goal.
- In the end though, gotta give the props to Petr Sykora...He keeps going into the slot and even deeper right in front of the net. He keeps seeing his shots get blocked, miss narrowly or have the goalie make a save. But undeterred in what had to be a frustrating 0-0 game, he went back into the scoring goal. And he made a play, otherwise the game (and extra point) might have come down to the virtual coin flip of a shootout--of which the Isles beat the Pens 2-0 in a shootout just nine days ago.
So two points is two points. The Pens might have squeaked this one out on a game against an inferior opponent, but at the end of the day they were able to claw within two points of the playoffs. We'll have to take 'em any way we can get 'em at this point. Time to move on to a daunting five game road trip that could make or break the stretch run.