The Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders renewed their game from last night, and unfortunately for the Pens it had a lot of parallels. The Pens scored first, again. The Isles pulled even with a Matt Martin goal, just like last night. NYI would go on to score the next two goals, again, and out-shoot and generally out-work Pittsburgh for the second night in a row.
Not a pretty scene. It started out well enough, with Evgeni Malkin putting the Pens up early by driving to the net in the first period and beating Jaroslav Halak. However, the switch really seemed to come in the second period with the Isles badly out-shooting and out-attempting Pittsburgh, who seemed to be clinging to their one goal lead for dear life. Predictably, one goal was not enough.
Martin scored late in the second period and then the dam finally opened up in the third period with Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and John Tavares tacking on the difference makers late. Thomas Greiss was pretty good early, but after a while there wasn't much more to be done, the Pens didn't play a very good game overall. The game had a lot of free-flowing play and had multiple stretches of continuous action, which seemed to favor NYI.
Nice to move on from this, but before we
- Steve Downie came back to bite the Pens. He was yapping with Martin all night long, got in a fight against Travis Hamonic in the first, but then in the third period Downie really lost it after Thomas Hickey knocked the stick out of his hands. Downie spun around and leveled Hickey with a body check with the puck nowhere nearby, drawing a minor penalty (and then getting a misconduct tacked on, no doubt deservedly so). That ensuing power play was where Nelson scored to make it 3-1 and really push the game out of reach.
- It's dangerous to read too much into one game, or even two, but the Blake Comeau on Sidney Crosby ‘s line experiment isn't going swimmingly.
- Only one power play for the Pens tonight, and much like the rest of their game, it was a disjointed effort that didn't have a lot of organization behind it. The refs once again swallowed the whistles (for both teams) and that didn't end up favoring the Pens.
- Possession starts with the faceoff and Pittsburgh was bad in this area too, only winning 39% of the draws. Brandon Sutter was a respectable 9 for 16 (57%) but the other three regular centers (Crosby, Malkin, Marcel Goc) combined to go 12 for 40 (30%). Woof.
- Every Islander, save Mikhail Grabovski and Josh Bailey registered a shot on goal. Every Islander, aside from Bailey and Casey Cizikas registered multiple shot attempts. For the Pens, only 12 of 18 skaters had multiple shot attempts. It was a team problem tonight.
- Continuing the team trend, 11 different Islanders got a point on the four goals, with only one player- Tavares- having a multi-point night. They were getting contributions from everyone and every line, if that point hasn't been hammered home.
- Paul Martin (7) had almost as many shot blocks as the entire Islander team (11). Gives you an idea of what direction the rubber was flying in all night.
- The Islanders also had 15 shots that missed the net, the majority of them seemingly going high. Not sure if that's the book on Greiss, but they made a concerted effort to shoot high on him all night.
- Interesting to see the ice-time breakout of what was mainly a game played at even-strength. Kris Letang led the way, per usual, with 21:37 ES time, Christian Ehrhoff (20:57), Olli Maatta (20:28) and Martin (19:38) weren't far behind. Simon Despres (13:52) and Rob Scuderi (13:40) were. Big time lean on the top guys, and Maatta even somehow ended up a +1 on the night.
- Funny quirk: The Islanders spent 2:46 on the night on the PP, and played the same 5 skaters the entire time. Pittsburgh almost matched it, with 3 their top PK'ing unit (Goc, Martin, Letang) playing 2:26 SH and Craig Adams logging 1:44. This is not a good sign for the Penguins PK, as it means a lot of zone time to the point where their guys couldn't get to the bench, and the Islanders didn't even need to change since they were setting up plays..And, eventually scoring.
- The Islanders crowd chanting "first place" with minutes to go in the game. First, and best, it's wrong (the Isles and Pens are tied in the standings, Pittsburgh has played 1 less game and retain the top spot), secondly, it's November. Guess you have to find joy in the little things when it's been 21 years since a playoff series win.
The sooner we move on, the better. And loogit who's on the schedule next- the Bruins on Monday night. Bring it.