PITTSBURGH PA - FEBRUARY 02: Rick DiPietro #39 of the New York Islanders eyes the puck in the corner against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on February 2 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Islanders blog: Lighthouse Hockey
One week ago Marc-Andre Fleury registered a 1-0 shutout against the Islanders in what can only be described as a close-knit match that was, for lack of better words, kind of boring as well. Wednesday's 3-0 win saw Brent Johnson pick up the shutout this time, further proving the same results can exist against the Islanders no matter who's in net. [Edit: As noted in Hooks' fight post, Johnny did not register the shutout...statistically at least]
The only difference between those two games? Fleury didn't leave the crease to punch Rick DiPietro in the face.
More after the jump...
Let's work backwards in this one, because it's safe to say some of the game's best action came towards the end.
With about 20 seconds left to go in the game, Matt Cooke entered the Islanders zone and zig-zagged in front of DiPietro. DP, sensing an opportunity to stir up something, reacted to a Cooke nudge as if he were hit by a cannonball. The ensuing scrum resulted in Cooke pinned up against the boards as Islanders mobbed him, rightfully, in defense of their goaltender.
What you didn't see at the time was Johnson signaling to DiPietro that he wanted to go. DP answered the call, despite the ref's best attempt to break it up with flailing arms and screams, before finally conceding and letting the two goaltenders go at it.
Sadly, it didn't last long. Thankfully, that's because Johnson showed the poise of a heavyweight champ, socked DiPietro with a left-handed bomb and sent the oft-injured goaltender to the ice in a heap of his own self defeat. Both were sent off to the dressing rooms with 16.5 seconds remaining on the clock. Whether DiPietro was attempting to stand up for teammates in an otherwise very physical game, or just felt like going off the ice in style, there's no denying there were smiles from both benches, particularly from a hysterical Fleury who had the night off after registering the win Tuesday against the Rangers.
It was a physical game, with some solid hits coming on behalf of Cooke, Max Talbot and Deryk Engelland, the latter of whom led the team with a total of six. Pittsburgh ultimately out-hit New York by the total of 27-21, easily paling in comparison to Tuesday's total of 37 Pittsburgh hits against the Rangers, but let's chalk it up to quality over quantity.
Tonight's win over the Islanders marks the Penguins' 11th straight win against them on home ice, a new franchise record. Leading the way for the Pens was Tyler Kennedy, who registered his eighth of the season on the power play in the first and Chris Kunitz, who is really showing some solid leadership in the wake of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin being out. Talbot added the empty netter prior to the goalie battle at the end of the game.
That's two in a row now for the Pens to kick off the second half and four in a row if you include the two before the break. No rest for the weary though, as the Pens have Thursday to heal up following the past double-header before hosting the Sabres on Friday and hitting the road against the Capitals on Sunday.