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Penguins/Islanders Recap: Loose second period sinks Pittsburgh in 6-3 loss

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See the highlights of the 6-3 Pens loss to the Islanders

NHL: New York Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Lineups

Bad news off the bat, no Kris Letang in warmup or for this game as the injury suffered Saturday night will keep him out of this game. Juuso Riikola is in the lineup as the replacement.

A really emotional pre-game ceremony, video, anthem and the Pittsburgh police are on hand for a ceremonial puck drop.

1st period

Pittsburgh getting the better of the play early; Patric Hornqvist hits the post, Evgeni Malkin has a nice chance that Islanders goalie Robin Lehner makes a solid save on. Dominik Simon hits Sidney Crosby with another great pass and an Isle is forced to hook Crosby and send to the Pens to the power play, but they don’t do much with it.

New York strikes first, Andrew Ladd jumps on the ice and no Penguin marks him, Valterri Filpulla finds Ladd with a nice cross-ice pass and he’s got an easy one to make it 1-0.

The Islanders make it 2-0, Riley Sheahan loses the puck behind the net and neither Chad Ruhwedel or Jack Johnson can cover Brock Nelson out front.

The Pens top line gets a goal back after a great shift of cycling, Sidney Crosby works the puck behind the net and passes out to Simon. Simon gets a lucky bounce of the skate of an NYI defender, but luck tends to happen when you live in the offensive zone. 2-1.

And then Sidney Crosby ties the game late in the 1st with a rocket of a shot over the glove of Lehner. 2-2.

Johnson heads to the box for a holding penalty.

Shots 15-6 Pens, and yeah they pretty much shouldn’t be in a tied game but it is 2-2.

2nd period

The Pens get a power play early and some nice zone time and puck movement with none other than Riikola manning the point with the four big boys. But no goals.

The Islanders don’t get a shot for the first 9:32 of the period, so naturally their first shot is by arguably the worst player in this game and he gets a good pass on a 2-on-1 and lifts it in the net. 3-2.

Pittsburgh takes a penalty with Jake Guentzel going to the box, looked like he was just trying to jump out of the way but he takes out an Islander. And Jordan Eberle makes the Pens pay on the PP when he steps out of the right corner and Chad Ruhwedel drops to defend a cross-ice pass that isn’t there. Eberle has the time to make the score 4-2.

Matt Murray gets pulled at this point, more a statement to the team and change up than an indication of play. Not much at all Murray could do on any of the goals against. That move doesn’t pay off, when Riikola turns the puck over in the neutral zone, yet another odd-man rush that Eberle again buries.

But wait, Eberle may have been off-side on the play and the Pens challenge. It’s very very close but not enough to over-turn it. Score is 5-2 and the Pens get a penalty for delay of game for the failed challenge. Pittsburgh is able to kill it off at least and stop the bleeding.

Shots in the period end up 11-10 NYI, more importantly goals are 3-0 in the second frame in NYI’s decided advantage.

3rd period

Interestingly enough, it’s Thomas Greiss leading the Islanders back on the ice for the third, and not Lehner. Evgeni Malkin scores on Greiss on the backhand and with his back facing the goal. He gets a lot on the shot, but one the goalie probably wants back. Still, a special goal from a special player to cut the score to 5-3 early.

Then Tom Kuhnhackl of all people scores, after Nick Leddy hits a post solid the Pens and DeSmith are out of sorts, Kuhnhackl just throws the puck to the center, it hits Jamie Oleksiak’s skate and gets a bounce in. 6-3.

Riikola goes to the box for hooking which hurts since it kills two minutes but the Pens take care of it. Pittsburgh gets one last power play with 5 minutes remaining. No dice.

And that about does it. Pens fall 6-3.

Some thoughts

  • Shots early were 10-3 Pittsburgh. Goals 2-0 NYI. So much for the preview question as to if NYI’s luck would run out on the PDO front. At one point it was 22-6 Pens in shots.
  • This one wasn’t on Murray. 4 goals given up on 9 shots looks terrible in the boxscore but in the context of the game, wasn’t much he could do about any of the goals against. He was hung out to dry. Further illustrated by DeSmith giving up a goal on the first shot he faced, also on the rush. This one wasn’t about the goalie, it was just lax defense.
  • And not just lax defense but certainly over-matched. The absence of Kris Letang was blaring. The Pens weren’t good in transition. They weren’t good defending. Their team speed was lower, outlet passes, you name it. Everything was a step slower and a bit off without #58.
  • But it kind of got that sense after the first. The Pens dominated shots. They scored 2 goals and hit 2 more posts. Yet the score was 2-2. That never seems to bode well.
  • Tough go in this one for Ruhwedel with some bad defensive zone coverages.
  • Believe it or not it was Olli Maatta who led the Pens defense in ice time, and though it’s always risky to say something positive about Maatta on the internet, I thought he had a very solid and strong game. Nothing flashy of course but he got an extra dose of minutes and performed well.
  • The Simon-Crosby-Guentzel line combined for 17 shots on goal. Really liked the way they were playing together in the offensive zone, seems like they spent their whole shifts in there often time, working the puck, getting to space and the shots on net, and of course, two goals in the first period.

Well, the good news is Pittsburgh gets another look at the Islanders in just two days times. It may not be much of a different story until Letang gets back but it will be another chance to get back out there and see how it goes against the same opponent.