An emotional pre-game ceremony for Sidney Crosby celebrating game 1000 in the NHL.
The Penguins have a familiar lineup for the game.
Let's play some hockey! pic.twitter.com/zNGztVfEOq— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 20, 2021
Maybe it’s a hangover from the pregame ceremony, maybe it’s just a bad start but the Islanders carry the play in the first with a 16-4 shot advantage. Tristan Jarry is big time to keep this a 0-0 game.
Perhaps the most important point of the game is that Evgeni Malkin gets banged up and leaves the ice injured, but he would return later in the middle of the second period.
The Islanders take the game’s first penalty fairly deep into the second with Anthony Beauvillier going for a hook and the Pens strike quickly with a shooting mentality??? Kris Letang shoots from distance with power and high with the puck somehow boomerangs in short-side on Semyon Varlamov. 1-0 Pens on Letang’s first goal of the season.
A POWER-PLAY LASER, COURTESY OF KRIS LETANG!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 21, 2021
With his primary assist on Letang's goal, Malkin extends his point streak against the Islanders to seven games (4G-7A). pic.twitter.com/M0EOWpkF7J
The Isles get it back on the rush, Jordan Eberle has a lot of space to cut in to the net from a nice Beauvillier pass and dekes to his backhand for the finish. 1-1 game with 4+ minutes left.
Forehand ➡️ backhand ➡️ GOAL pic.twitter.com/wkeNnchM5i— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 21, 2021
Shots are 10-8 Islanders in the second period.
53 seconds into the night the Islanders take their first lead of the night when Brock Nelson wrists a shot from way outside that Jarry can’t pick up on thanks to traffic in front. 2-1 NYI.
Mike Matheson continues on with his offensive ways, rushing the puck up the ice, dishing to Teddy Blueger who passes it back for Matheson to snap past Varlamov. 2-2 tie.
Let's take another look at Matheson's first goal as a member of the Penguins pic.twitter.com/tkBxElX0ik— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 21, 2021
Kris Letang strikes for his second goal of the night (and the season) with again a long-range shot and the Pens go back in front 3-2.
Not too long after, New York gets their first power play of the night with the tiniest of hooks you’ll ever see on Jason Zucker. Gotta even if up and give them a chance with 5:52 to go, I guess. The Pens kill it off.
The Isles pull their goalie but get nothing out of it and that’s the game.
- Maybe it was playing a hunch, maybe it was the coach didn’t like what he saw, but in the third period Kasperi Kapanen went from the Crosby line down to the 4th line and Brandon Tanev played with Jake Guentzel-Crosby. Sam Lafferty, who actually showed some flashes including hitting a post, jumped up with the Zach Aston-Reese-Teddy Blueger line.
- Have to compliment Jarry a lot. The first few weeks of the season he was one of the league’s worst goalies. The past 4-5 games, he’s been incredible. He was focused, looked square to shots, was feeling out the play well and playing his position excellently. The goalie gets a lot of heat in the bad times, so full credit to him on a game like tonight where the shots are 35-18 for NYI and the Pens win. They won because Jarry was great. It’s tough to explain or predict or tell when goalie play is terrible until it isn’t....But Jarry has swung from very bad to very, very good in a hurry. Good on him.
- Two assists for Sid in game #1000. You expected anything less?
- It was great to see Malkin come back from whatever knicked him early in the game, but his turnover led to the first goal and it wasn’t really a great game for him. BUT, and it’s an important but, Geno did make that pass on the power play for the first Letang goal. Too often it seems like only his negatives shine through. It’s fair to wonder how close to 100% he is, but he didn’t alright tonight.
- And speaking of oft-targets, Letang was the difference in this game. In a positive way. Two goals. The first, a blast and nice one-timer. The second, a bit more refined with a little shimmy shake for a hesitation to let a puck go. The Pens need their #1 dman to generate offense. It won’t be 2 goals every game, but it was really great to see Letang remind any doubters exactly why he’s been the most special and longest lasting #1 guy in Penguins history on the backend.
- Tonight was Mike Matheson’s first goal, but he’s on an upward trajectory. Feels like almost every game he’s getting involved and jumping in for a positive way to generate offense. He’s doing great there and that’s a positive development.
- The Pens now move to 3-1-0 vs NYI and they’re 3-1-0 vs Washington this season. Going 6-2-0 versus perhaps the two biggest teams to challenge them for a playoff spot is a HUGE positive development moving forward. Pittsburgh is going to have to get to about 63-64-65 points to guarantee a playoff spot. If they keep racking up wins against the Islanders and Caps, the better off they will be to set themselves up moving forward.
In the end, this game, this night, let’s be real. It was all about Sidney Crosby. He records 2 assists on the night. The Penguins win. That’s happened SO many times over the years, we all probably lose a little track and perspective of just how special this run as been over the last 15+ seasons. At the end of the day, Sidney Crosby is the most special and excellent hockey player we’ve seen in this generation. It’s only fitting a celebration for him ends in a multi-point game and a Pens win. We’ve been so spoiled.
The Pens get a rare two day break and are back on Tuesday night in DC.