On light up night in Western Pennsylvania, a tradition to kick off the holiday season with Christmas lights, the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders decided to light it up (but definitely not light 'em mup) in a second period that saw four goals and even more odd-man rushes.
At the end of this "last shot wins" type feel of game, the Pens had the last shot, namely Sidney Crosby. A nice shot to have, with Sid putting the good guys up with just 1:16 left in the game.
In the beginning, it didn't look like it would be that close- Chris Kunitz scored two power play goals in the first period, his 10th and 11th of the season and had another goal disallowed when the refs said Evgeni Malkin high-sticked an Islander shortly before the goal. No matter, the Pens were up 2-0 after 20 minutes.
The wild second would be next- Tomas Vanek scored 1:46 in to give NYI life, and then Malkin finally ended his 15 game goal scoring drought by converting on a back-and-forth passing play with James Neal that alluded Isles goalie Kevin Poulin. Fast forward five game minutes and New York would tie the goal with two quick goals by Colin MacDonald and Vanek again.
The third period was a lot calmer in terms of odd-man breaks and sloppy play, no doubt a nod to intermiession coaching adjustment and speeches with no score coming until Crosby won it late.
A few more thoughts on the game:
- Simply amazing passing playing on the Pens first goal. Malkin found Crosby who one-touched a cross-ice pass perfectly to the blade of Kunitz right in front. Off the charts pretty.
- The Pens played short-handed for 9:37 tonight and let's just recognize that of that 9 minutes and 37 seconds, Brooks Orpik played 6:44, Paul Martin played 6:09, Pascal Dupuis logged 5:17 and Craig Adams got 5:12. And the Islanders scored 0 goals. Superman effort for those four guys short-handed.
- Malkin finally broke through the goal-drought and led the team with six shots on goal and two more that got blocked. He had a breakaway that beat Poulin through the five-hole only to be kicked out by the back leg at the last second. Toss in an assist, a takeaway and 60% on 10 faceoffs and Malkin had a big night.
- And, not to be out-done, so did the other superstar captain. Crosby continued his tidy 2.0 points per game domination of the Islanders at home with the game-winner with a minute left and the pretty assist on the first goal of the game. Yuuuup.
- Beau Bennett left the game with an apparent wrist/hand injury in the third period. But that opened up the chance for Pascal Dupuis to fill in on the top line and setup the game-winner. So it goes.
- Tanner Glass took a penalty immediately after the Crosby goal with an unnessecary slash off the faceoff. Dumb and could have given a pesky Isles team life, but luckily it didn't.
- Jeff Zatkoff wasn't bad, he made a few key saves like in the opening minutes with a big right toe save on Kyle Okposo, but he also left a lot of rebounds and was way out in no man's land on a goal too. Not good, not bad, but he did enough to give his team a chance for the win and got out of there with it this time, so good on him. Hasn't given a lot of reasons to be confident in his ability to keep the puck out of the cage though.
- Brandon Sutter gets the stat sheet buffet of the night: 3 shots on goal, 1 shot blocked, 2 shots missed net, 1 hit, 1 giveaway, 2 takeaways, 1 blocked shot, 7 faceoff wins, 6 faceoff losses. And, unfortunately, he was on the ice for 0 goals for and 2 goals against.
- For commentary from the other side, be sure to check out our friends at the SB Nation blog of Lighthouse Hockey.
The Pens are on a three game winning streak- and have now won 4 of 5 (after losing 4 of 5) but there's no rest for the weary. They still have five more games in the next eight days of November, including a primetime Saturday night matchup against the Montreal Canadiens.