UNIONDALE NY - DECEMBER 11: Rick DiPietro #39 of the New York Islanders looks on during a time out late in the game agianst the Atlanta Thrashers on December 11 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale New York. The Thrashers defeated the Isles 5-4. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Islanders Blog: Lighthouse Hockey
Well, at least the pressure's off for Sid as he heads into the Winter Classic, right?
It wasn't the most exciting of games for the first two-and-a-half periods or so, but it definitely got exciting at the end when the threat of Sid's streak really started to take hold. I don't normally bash referees because I never praise them (and I'd like to run a balanced bias in that regards), but there were some really sketchy calls throughout the game for both sides, one of which even resulted in a penalty shot for Kris Letang.
You win some, you lose some, and in some cases you can squeak out a point. The Pens managed the latter, losing to the Islanders 2-1 in a shootout.
When Rick DiPietro stopped Mark Letestu to seal the win for the Islanders, he skated off like his team clinched a playoff spot for the first time in four seasons, jumped into the arms of teammates and collapsed to the ice in a heap of victory (risk of injury: 70%). When the buzz died down and he was named the first star of the game, he stepped aside to chat with the Islanders PA announcer about the game and even dished an elbow to the glass at a Penguins fan who was flashing the front of his jersey (risk of injury: 40%).
"It's good to be back," he said. "I missed a couple of games..."
And that's when I started to laughed.
All kidding aside, DiPietro owned that game for the Islanders, stopping 36 of 37 shots and stepping up his game in the shootout to make sure the Islanders earned that extra point. Even though Letang learned his lesson from the penalty shot and managed to beat DP in the shootout, it was Evgeni Malkin's goal that completely threw DiPietro off (risk of injury: 64%). Unfortunately New York had Marc-Andre Fleury's number, beating him on three of four chances.
The first period was your prototypical bland, boring and trap-ridden game. The second period at least saw some scoring, even if I didn't wake up until the seven-minute mark. But hey, just in time to see Chris Conner find the back of the net for the fourth time this season on an assist from Tyler Kennedy. Good things happen when you crash the net, but unfortunately the Pens weren't able to capitalize on that game plan for the remainder of the night.
Josh Bailey was easily the best offensive player for the Islanders tonight, buzzing around the net all night and registering the team's lone goal early in the second. Looks like spending a little time in the AHL worked out well for him, much to the Penguins' chagrin.
Still can't put aside the fact that the Penguins had a chance to ice it in overtime while on the power play and just couldn't get it done. Oddly enough, that was only the Penguins' second power play in the entire game. Guess the refs were harder to bribe in this one.
Somewhere in the depths of Nassau Coliseum, DiPietro is raising his hands high above his faux hawk celebrating his fifth win of the season (risk of injury: 33%), and no one is going to take that away from him. The Pens on the other hand will take the trip back to Pittsburgh to rest up before Saturday's Winter Classic at 1:00.