The Pittsburgh Penguins did their part to close out a three game road-trip with their fourth straight win by the score of 4-2 over the New York Islanders Tuesday night. It was a game that featured the Pens jumping out to an early goal they grew into a 3-0 lead, followed by a frustrating parade to the penalty box, followed by two quick Islander goals then a mad scramble to hold on.
Early on, things looked great. Sidney Crosby found James Neal for a powerplay goal (remember those?) just 2:58 into the game. That would be all the scoring until the second period when defensemen Simon Despres collected a nice Chris Kunitz pass and put it by Evgei Nabokov. They'd stretch it to 3-0 early in the third when Brandon Sutter got a pass from Matt Cooke on a two on one and scored.
The other story of this game would be the penalties. The Pens took seven minors; three in the first period, three in the second, one in the third, that killed a lot of the flow and normal progression of the game. Some of these calls were legit, others were head-scratchers, especially since New York only got whistled for three.
Marc-Andre Fleury and the Pens penalty killers were up to the task, killing all seven NYI powerplays, a week after giving up two goals that really let the Islanders walk away with the game.
The Islanders made this one close in the third when Matt Moulson and Brad Boyes scored 35 seconds apart, but the Pens were able to stabilize and get out of town with two points after Pascal Dupuis got an empty netter late to close the scoring.
- Really rough game for Crosby- the assist early followed by catching a deflected point shot right to the nose (and really classy for most of the 11,318 to cheer when a man is down and bleeding as he goes off). Crosby would return but take a few bumps and not a factor for the rest of the game.
- 16 was the impressive defensive number of the game. 16 blocked shots on the night (led by Brooks Orpik with 5) and 16 saves made while short-handed by Fleury.
- No surprise, the "big three" defensemen all played the most for Pittsburgh. Kris Letang played 25:19 tonight, Paul Martin logged 25:13 for the Pens (including 8:36 of SH time), and Orpik had 22:43 of ice-time (with an identical 8:36). Just another night's work for those guys.
- Colin McDonald, in his first game back after a suspension for boarding Ben Lovejoy may have been a marked man. Then he jostled with Crosby after a whistle, cementing that. Tanner Glass tried to get McDonald to fight, but dishonorably he wanted no part of it, letting Matt Martin step in to fight for him.
- Robert Bortuzzo had an unlikely two game point streak coming into the game, and it was broken in a sad fashion tonight after a shot from the pont rang off the post and wide.
- Two steps forward, two minutes in penalties: The Simon Despres story. Despres looked great on the shift he scored his goal, bodying up Kyle Okposo behind his net then eventually jumping ito the offensive zone and quickly one-timing a shot in for a goal. But he also took two minor penalties, a trip and an interference call that any ref in the league would have called It'll be interesting to see if the pluses are outweighing the negatives for the coaches right now.
At the end of the day, taking two points on the road and ending a road trip perfectly can't be beaten. The Pens discipline left a lot to be desired and their focus could probably tighten up a little, but all in all, they did enough to get the job done.