The Islanders are barely recognizable anymore. Sure, they still have Tavares and Okposo and the ever-hatable Matt Martin, but playing a new building that isn't even a hockey building, wearing their all black alternate jerseys...It just didn't seem quite the same.
The Islanders would strike first courtesy of John Tavares firing a shot that clicks off of Brian Dumoulin and turns into a bouncy ball on Marc-Andre Fleury
John Tavares tied for 26th in scoring (24-28-52) https://t.co/4v4J50YeOM— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) March 9, 2016
Kris Letang pulls the Pens even while the game is at 4v4, a nice pass from Sidney Crosby and center-drive by Patric Hornqvist to give Letang all the space he needed to streak down the right side and pick the glove-hand of Jaroslav Halak.
Letangerang! Sidney Crosby picks up the assist. Full replay: https://t.co/jHqyldoPDw pic.twitter.com/oMP5lddcRT— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 9, 2016
On a questionable call against Matt Cullen, the refs let Anders Lee get away with jousting with Letang as Nick Leddy's point shot gets by Fleury after Lee deflects it.
The @NYIslanders take the lead!#PITvsNYI pic.twitter.com/CUcr7LvJle— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) March 9, 2016
The Pens make a push but can't score and that would be that.
- First shift Evgeni Malkin put a perfect pass for Phil Kessel in a primo scoring area right in front. Kessel got a pretty good shot but Halak move laterally enough to make the save.
- Likewise early NYI got a great scoring chance with a solid cross-bar hit that nearly went in. Luckily the score stayed even to that point.
- Brian Strait update: still in the NHL, somehow.
- Crosby scores his 92nd career point against the Islanders in his 52nd career game. That's some Mario Lemieux territory stuff.
- Interesting thought that Crosby's linemates for tonight were Hornqvist (drafted #230 overall), and Scott Wilson (drafted 207). It's not where you start, but where you end up.
- Bryan Rust uses his speed again to break in all alone in the second period but his shot hit the left post. Seems like he flashes like that about once a game these days and earns a great scoring chance with his legs.
- Travis Hamonic probably has to be in the invented list I just made of "Top 5 opponents it's no fun to play against". He's just a solid, tough, mean defenseman and I do mean that complimentary, of course.
- Calls in the 3rd definitely had a heavy hand in the game. The game got chippy and some calls got made - Kessel for slashing. Then Anders Lee gets called for slashing Brian Dumoulin in front of the net. Then Cullen got taken down, got up a (barely) retaliated and got rung up himself. On the ensuing power play, Lee again in front of the net knocked down a Penguin but this time he wasn't called on it and the puck ended in the net. The refs aren't going to call literally everything, but with a game spinning out of control in the middle of the 3rd, they basically did nothing to keep it under control.
- But that's not to say refereeing decided this game, they didn't. The Pens had a power play with 4 minutes to go to score a game-tying goal, against a cold goalie in Thomas Greiss who had to make an appearance due to a Halak injury late. The Pens have no one to blame but themselves.
- Pens get their first 2 day break since Feb 25-26 and after this they won't have another until March 21-24.
Tough one to swallow for the Pens who lose valuable ground to the Isles, but the two teams still do meet to more times this season. Pittsburgh has alternated W-L-W-L-W-L for the last 6 games and need to try and find ways to consistently get more points. Their next chance won't be until Friday night