The Penguins decide to dress their six best defensemen for Game 1 of the playoffs. What a time to be alive!
The Islanders come out with a strong first shift, and the Pens pop the puck to center ice, but Tom Kuhnhackl charges onto the ice and wrists a nice shot by Matt Murray just 33 seconds in.
However, Matt Martin was slow to tag up back onsides, and after a review that felt like it took forever the refs finally ruled that it was no goal.
New York gets it back quickly, though. After Dumoulin can’t clear the puck and then doesn’t track back on time to get Jordan Eberle, Eberle collects a puck and shoots five-hole on Murray to make it officially 1-0 just 1:40 into the game.
The Pens finally settle down and go to work, Evgeni Malkin sets up Patric Hornqvist for a great shot right in front but Robin Lehner makes his first big save of the night.
A bit later it’s Phil Kessel who quiets the noisy building, great zone entry by Dominik Simon and Kessel finds himself in the middle of the ice with plenty of space to shoot. Uh oh. Another five-hole goal and it’s 1-1 before the first television timeout.
Don’t ever give Phil this shot pic.twitter.com/0gNlYFysWd— Kaitlyn Dividock (@kaitdivi) April 11, 2019
Matt Cullen makes a nice play behind the net to setup the returning Zach Aston-Reese, but Lehner stops him.
NYI gets the first power play of the game when Marcus Pettersson cross-checks Casey Cizikis into the boards from behind in a nasty looking play. The Islanders’ power play is supposed to be weak but it only takes them 24 seconds to strike with Eberle making a nice pass to find Brock Nelson all alone in front of the net for a tap-in. 2-1 NYI with 4:14 left in the first.
Letang loses an edge and falls, leading for a clear shot for Mathew Barzal, but Murray responds with a huge glove save, his biggest of the game so far.
Shots on goal for the first were 17-12 Pittsburgh. A lot of the expected; Pens threw a lot at Lehner who was good. Defensively the Pens were a bit shaky and taking the only penalty meant the difference in the scoreboard at the end of 20.
Not much going on early as the game settles in a bit from a frantic first. Aston-Reese makes an ill-advised pass to the middle of the ice that Cal Clutterbuck intercepts and fires on net but Murray stops it.
The Islanders get a second power play (and the game’s second) with Kessel tripping an Islander in the neutral zone. The Pens get a kill with Murray making one nice save on Eberle. Jake Guentzel hits Kessel with a breakaway pass out of the box but Lehner stops him.
NYI takes their first penalty of the game in the offensive zone to send Pittsburgh to a power play. The Pens get some zone time and a couple of scrambles in front of Lehner but can’t score.
Evgeni Malkin and Scott Mayfield get into it after the whistle and are sent off to make a 4v4 situation. Crosby is taken down on a rush by Ryan Pulock and the Pens are off to a second power play.
Malkin is looking for an option on the right side, NYI is packed in their defensive diamond tightly. Geno puts the puck to the net and it deflects of Islander defenseman Adam Pelech’s stick and into the net. 2-2 game with 5:19 left in the second period.
Evgeni Malkin has more goals, assists, and points in the regular season against the Islanders than any other team.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 11, 2019
It looks like that scoring touch is Malkin' its way to the playoffs. pic.twitter.com/US27eenjpR
The Pens’ new look third line does more good work, Dom Simon with a nifty pass to Kessel who has an open net but tough angle being a RH shot and hits the post.
NYI fourth line then has a good shift pinning the Pittsburgh fourth line in, Murray makes a stop. Next shift Jared McCann sets up Malkin beautifully but Lehner is big in denying it.
Still, it felt like the ice started tipping a bit more towards Lehner in that period as the Pens found more space to operate and certainly a number of scoring chances were exchanged at both ends. Pittsburgh’s type of game through 40, shots 30-22 PIT in the game. Score tied up at 2.
Pens at 5v5 in the 2nd (13:02 of play via @NatStatTrick):— geoff stat boy (@G_Off817) April 11, 2019
Shot attempts: 20-12
Unblocked attempts: 16-9
High Danger SOG: 5-1
Scoring chances: 11-7
High danger chances: 7-3
1:40 into this game, down 1-0 (and verrrry close to 2-0) if you knew it would be a 2-2 game through 40, chance to win it in the third, that’s a good proposition for the road team.
The Isles’ fourth line has a good shift early on the Pens’ third line (with the refs lettin’ ‘em play in classic third period playoff fashion with Eberle going down twice with no calls). Then the next shift out Pittsburgh flips the script and their fourth line has their best shift of the game and pins the NYI third line in for a bit.
Tough look on an injury with Erik Gudbranson going hard and heavy into the boards with his left leg taking the brunt of the impact after tangling with Anders Lee. Lee gets the gate for two minutes for boarding and Gudbranson leaves for the locker room in quite a bit of pain and putting no weight on his left leg.
The Pens don’t get much on the power play, which seems just, it was a tough injury and collision but Lee didn’t really board Gudbranson.
The Pens’ fourth line gets caught icing the puck twice and though they get a change they never regain possession of the puck and Nick Leddy fires a puck through traffic that goes off the left post and into the net. 3-2 NYI with 7:25 left in the game.
Right after that goal, Murray has to make another huge save.
Kris Letang slashes Brock Nelson after Nelson hacks at Murray, and Nelson falls in a pathetic heap upon feeling some contact. Both get penalties so it’s 4v4 with 6:18 left.
The Pens pull Murray and strike at 5v6! Letang sauces a great pass to Justin Schultz, and the puck is still rolling on the bad ice when Schultz hammers it flipping shortside on Lehner. 3-3 with 1:29 left.
Josh Bailey hits the post with like 6 seconds left on a nice pass from Clutterbuck as life flashes before your eyes but...it’s harmless.
We go to...
The Crosby line with a good first shift, but second shift Tom Kuhnhackl walks through Olli Maatta and then drives into Murray. Puck slides in as the net goes off its moorings.
The refs rule no goal with stated reason for the puck not entering the net while the goal frame was on, but still, TK just flew into Murray without being pushed and initiates contact in the crease with the goalie, shouldn’t have been a good goal in the first place.
But at 4:39 of OT the Isles get the winner, the Pens pinch down and lose possession of the puck and Mat Barzal is in on a 2-on-1. Murray makes the first stop but is down and out and this time Bailey tucks the puck in for the winner.
Tough one to take, and ironic that one of the first 2-on-1’s of a game played with pretty good structure of teams having players back ends up in the net. NYI up 1 game to 0 as we prep for Game 2 on Friday.
- Dumoulin (who got an assist on the Pens’ goal and had a tough look on the goal against) also caught a high hit or stick from an Islander, resulting in a bloody nose and trip to the locker room. Pens were down to five defensemen for a bit in the first. Eventful times for Dumo coming back early.
- Ice looked atrocious in the first alone Cizikias went down opening up room for the Pens to score. Rust slid on it in the lead up to the PPG against, Letang fell for no reason. Both teams have to play on it, but this time of year it’s always sub-optimal for both to have to play in poor conditions.
- Even though the Pens’ PK looked terrible in the first, loved to see the refs calling a lot of penalties in the second period. The more special team time, the better it should be for Pittsburgh. Trading power plays back and forth definitely benefits the Pens’ skill. Some of the calls, as always, were...interesting (like Leo Komarov going for a slight hold, but Cal Clutterbuck getting away with a monster cross-check). But still, the more calls - which are bound to even out in both directions - is a good thing!
- Another Guentzel-Crosby-Kessel line sighting in the last minute of the second period for an o-zone draw. Didn’t strike for a goal (this time) but nice to see Sullivan willing to go back to that trick in the bag o’ tricks when the situation is favorable.
- The Pens had to weather the storm early, as to be expected. The Coliseum crowd was rockin (though, lol at chanting “DE-FENSE” at a hockey game ya big old herbs). The Islanders fed off that energy early though, no doubt, and the Pens were a bit shaky in the first. Part of the fun of the playoffs those big momentum swings and big changes in games and series. Once Pittsburgh settled in a bit, they did just fine.
- Interesting in-game adjustment with NYI coach Barry Trotz shuffling pairs to put Nick Leddy-Mayfield and Devon Toews-Johnny Boychuk together, leaving Pelech-Pulock intact. We’ll see how that looks moving forward and if the Pens can continue to jump on those four defensemen.
- Who knew about seven weeks ago that an injury to Gudbranson could potentially be so damaging? Especially since all of their left-handed shots have had such difficulty playing on the right side. Surprisingly he was able to return to the game, but as we’ve learned that doesn’t always mean availability for next game.
- Quiet night for Crosby and Guentzel who were both held without a point and combined for only two shots on goal (both from Crosby). Guentzel didn’t have any shot attempts at all. You would bet that probably changes in a hurry soon, and to be honest it needs to.
- Total shot attempts were 83-62 Pittsburgh, a positive to carry forward if that can hold up. Lehner was solid as advertised and expected, but all those pucks flying at the net are sure to result in scoring opportunities.
- The Pens were playing from behind all night with the slow start, and tied it up three times. That’s impressive fight back, even if the end result wasn’t a positive one.
And results are all that matters. The Pens hung tough, fought back, but couldn’t get a win. Usually on the road if you can split the first two games, that’s a win to build on and go back home. Pittsburgh will have to be a bit more sharp and get a result on Friday.