March 27, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders center Josh Bailey (center hidden) is pushed into Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) by Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz (14) during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The New York Islanders won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
And though on the strength of James Neal and Chris Kunitz the Pens would battle back for a tie, it was just a matter of time before they continued to take foolish penalties, give up way too much time and space and then see pucks go by their goalie. The icing on the cake had to by the 5th goal when Paul Martin collided with Fleury. MAF would be pulled (mercifully) for the 3rd period.
Some more thoughts on the game:
-Pens still did what they usually do: throw a lot of rubber on the net. 54 shots on goal. Neal was out of his mind with 12 shots on goal. Kunitz had 7, Evgeni Malkin had 5. Maybe, just maybe Steiggy is on to something with his forcing of the "Firing Line" nickname...Nah.
-More bizzare stuff for the Isles as well, Evgeni Nabokov was playing well but appeared to tweak some sort of lower body thing in the second. He looked physically shaky but was able to finish the period. Al Montoya came in to close out the win. You know it's a wild game when all four goalies that dress end up with playing time, and that was the case tonight.
-Failry quiet night for Sidney Crosby, again. It's hard since he's judged on a different plane than most, and tonight Dan Bylsma had him jumped up to play with Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis. Crosby's best play might have been a slick pass to rookie Simon Despres that just missed being a goal.
-Malkin led the team, by far, with 23:57 played, including a TON of minutes down the stretch. The Pens were definitely clawing and trying to get back in the game, they just made too many mistakes and couldn't quite bury the chances.
As much as the lack luster effort left a lot to be desired, the Penguins at least get a chance at redemption when they travel to the Island for the back half of the home and home. But in the bigger picture, it's a costly loss since the Rangers took care of business against Minnesota. The gap is now 3 points and with just six games left to play, the Pens are running out of time and likely locked into the 4/5 matchup for the first round of the playeoffs.