Is there is anything better than beating the Pittsburgh Penguins? I guess if you can watch them melt down and get frustrated that’s the icing on the cake.
The Islanders got scoring from Frans Nielsen (2g, 1a), Kyle Okposo (1g 1a), and Josh Bailey (3a) as well as a goal a piece from David Ullstrom and Michael Grabner to break two streaks; their own 13 game road losing streak in Pittsburgh (dating back to 2007) and the Penguins own 10 game home winning streak. Where was this all season?
Not that it was easy. The official shot totals look like an Islander team that got lucky being outshot 54-25 (*officially), but personally, I was skeptical of the count in the middle of the second and Islanders’ color man Pat Flatley indicated that there may have been some “home cookin” involved on those counts.
Speaking of home cookin (bad pun alert), one Matt Cooke appeared to be up to his old antics perhaps buckling under the pressure of the #MoulsonForByng movement. Tonight’s first infraction looked to be a possible headshot on denenseman Mark Streit. Apologies for the quality of the video as it looks like I taped it with a stone tablet. In additional elbows, here is the reformed man gaining the Islanders zone offsides, trying to fire off a shot anyway, then elbowing Andrew MacDonald, then Travis Hamonic. Nothing really happened to him which is unfortunate, so enjoy Evander Kane instead.
The Isles withstood an early second period barrage that saw the Penguins tie the game on goals from Tyler Kennedy and James Neal. The action was so furious that Islanders coach Jack Capuano actually used his time out (between the 1st and 2nd goal) to calm the team down.
In the third, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma went to Capunao’s playbook and pulled his goaltender Brad Thiessen (no relation to Tiffany-Amber that I’m aware of) with 5:00+ minutes left for an extra attacker during a Penguin 4 on 3 power play. The move paid different dividends as Neal notched his second of the game (37th of the season) to pull the Pens back within two, but that’s as close as they got. Marc-Andre Fleury did not come out for the third period because he took a Paul Martin elbow in the second. It can be assumed that he had some symptoms, but as of this writing, I have not seen official word.
The Islanders didn’t escape this game unscathed. Neither Evgeni Nabokov or David Ullstrom returned for the third period. There was no immediate word on Ullstrom, but Nabokov is said to have a “lower body injury” stemming from stumbling over a Penguin that was in his crease as he tried to push off. While you never want to have injuries and you never want to root for losses, this can only help the draft effort. Nabby basically put in a full days work in two periods anyway making 30 saves on 32 shots (*officially) in his two periods. He looked better than his last couple of weeks tonight.
The Penguins are here on Long Island Thursday looking to get some revenge and continue their push toward first overall in the conference.
Noticings: (Streaks and Info)
- Newsday’s Arthur Staple noted that this was Josh Bailey’s first career 3 assist game. Also, in his last 13 games, he is 4-7-11. That is roughly the same time period since Brian Rolston left.
- Eric Hornick noted that Frans Nielsen finished the night a +4 which is a career high.
- Sidney Crosby whines to referees a lot. Exhibit one; to get a call. Exhibit two; when he gets called. I thought he was wrong on both personally. Gotta love Butch “that’s why Crosby will never win a Lady Byng…” I’m sure he’s fine with those other trophies.
- Jordan Staal nailed JT91 pretty good, but I feel like Tavares turned last second on this one. Matt Martin came out for his next shift and hit a lot of people. Good show kid.
- During a play stoppage, the broadcast team reviewed the asbestos situation with a statement from the deputy county executive saying the air quality results are satisfactory and pose no risk to employees or patrons.
- A quality win against a
fullymostly armed (Letang out) opponent in a playoff race challenging for the first seed and home-ice advantage is a nice statement. It would have been nicer if they weren’t all but completely eliminated from contention, but if it can be built on, well ok…I’d still rather have a high draft pick now, but I like winning too. Being a fan is hard.
- PA Parenteau getting under Crosby’s skin was great to watch.
- Seeing the goalies get run in games where Pittsburgh is losing seems pretty familiar. It’s unfortunate that Hamonic has that cage on still…and nobody else on the blue line to clean house.
- In the first period in particular, it seemed like the defensemen were carrying the puck exceptionally deep in the offensive zone and on a couple of occasions even forechecking. That was so very Scott Gordonish. Seemed to be a strange tactic against a team as offensively gifted as the Penguins.