What a goalie. - Bruce Bennett
Don't call it a comeback...okay, I got the cliche out of the way.
Ever have one of those days where you're just glad because you know you get to go home and watch a Penguins game, but then they come out and play like they're half asleep to start the game? This was that, a mirror image of the game against the Rangers last Saturday. It took the Penguins nearly 13 minutes to register a shot on goal, and in that span of time the Islanders scored off the stick of Mark Streit on a point shot that goalie Tomas Vokoun appeared never to see until it was far too late. Matt Carkner and Frans Nielsen collected assists on the play. When the horn sounded to end the first, the Penguins were on a power play and everyone breathed a sigh of relief and began speculating upon what might be taking place in the locker room.
Unfortunately, our heroes failed to convert on the power play, and we began to take solace in the fact that, despite the odd goal, Vokoun was looking solid. Lots of back and forth followed, and a turnover when the puck hopped over Colin McDonald's stick allowed Joe Vitale to walk in on Evgeni Nabokov and rip a shot high to tie the score at 1 with his second goal of the season. Craig Adams picked up the only assist.
With just a couple of minutes remaining in the second, after a long stretch of time in the Penguins' end where the Penguins appeared to be utterly incapable of clearing the puck, Josh Bailey made the Pens pay for their inaction, scoring to make it 2-1. John Tavares and Travis Hamonic predictably had the assists. Chris Kunitz said, "It's cool, guys," and evened it up with 14 seconds remaining, putting the puck through Nabokov's five hole. These assists were just as predictable: Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis.
Coming into this game, the Islanders had given up a league-worst 45 goals in the third period, and the Penguins quickly cashed in. James Neal sent a nice head pass up to Matt Cooke, who successfully passed cross-crease to Brandon Sutter who did not miss. 3-2 Penguins.
Late in the third period, the Islanders finally picked up their first power play of the night. The Penguins' penalty killers ground through most of it before the Islanders shot themselves in a foot with a penalty of their own. No goals for either side. The Penguins weren't done, though, as Brooks Orpik took a hooking call with just over three minutes remaining that AlexStitch dubbed as, "Seriously the dumbest ... play Orpik has ever made." Thankfully, the Penguins killed that off and Pascal Dupuis potted one in the empty net, with just 0.2 seconds remaining--we think--to end it., assisted by Sidney Crosby and Tomas Vokoun.
- First period stats: The only one you really need is Islanders 14 shots, Penguins 3 shots; Islanders 14 hits, Penguins 7 hits. To say that the Islanders carried play is a ridiculous understatement. It really did look like the Penguins had forgotten they had a scheduled game.
- Second period stats: Both teams had 14 shots. The Penguins had 7 hits to the Islanders' 4.
- Third period stats: Both teams had 7 shots. The Islanders had 4 hits to the Penguins' 3.
- The Penguins gave Dan Potash a great birthday present with their 11th win in a row.
- Chicago Blackhawks who? Both teams have 24 wins to lead the NHL.
- With 33 saves, Tomas Vokoun was the reason the Penguins didn't end up in a huge hole after the first period and part of the second. This is the goalie the Penguins thought they were getting when they made the offseason trade.