Islanders Sweep Home and Home Series Against Penguins With 5-3 Win
The New York Islanders don't seem to need their top line too much as of late. In their second meeting of a home and home, the Isles once again rode their hot secondary scoring against the Penguins. However, the most surprising part about the Isles' most recent scoring efforts was the fact that the team received an unexpected contribution from one of their forwards. (BridgetDS/Flickr)
Marty Reasoner was signed to offset the loss of Zenon Konopka and the centreman's excellent faceoff skills, but the signing was largely a disappointment as Reasoner has failed to deliver any major points while playing on the team's third and fourth lines. Even though the center hasn't been able to register as many points as expected, he lit the lamp for the Islanders just over 11 minutes into the contest. Mark Streit had a golden opportunity to put the Isles on the board moments earlier, but Marc-Andre Fleury ultimately denied the scoring chance.
While the Isles held a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period, Pascal Dupuis tied the game on the Pens' 10th shorthanded goal of the season. With the game tied at 1, Brooks Orpik was sent to the penalty box for holding Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo cashed in on the Isles' man-advantage with his 19th goal of the season. Exactly two minutes later, Josh Bailey returned the shorthanded favor to Pittsburgh as he potted his 12th goal of the season and put the Isles up 3-1 with under two minutes left in the middle frame.
The third period saw much of the same effort from the home team as Kyle Okposo netted his second goal of the contest and his 20th of the season a little over five minutes into the final frame. Much like the game on Tuesday, the Islanders had to stave off a Pittsburgh attack in the third period and earn their two points. Jordan Staal got the Penguins within striking distance with his 24th goal of the season and Evgeni Malkin made the game interesting with under two minutes remaining as he scored his 47th goal and 100th point of the season to make it 4-3. However, with an empty net and time winding down, Josh Bailey netted his 2nd goal and fifth point of the night as he hit the empty Penguins net and sealed the victory for New York.
Al Montoya started in goal for an injured Evgeni Nabokov and continued right where he left off against the Penguins. After stopping 21 of 22 Pittsburgh shots in the third period of Tuesday's game, Montoya was sharp when he needed to be as he stopped 26 of 29 shots thrown his way and picked up his 8th victory of the season. Even more encouraging was the fact that Josh Bailey continued his white-hot play with his career-high five point night.
The top line for the Islanders didn't record a point in the series against the Penguins, but the lack of scoring from New York's top producers can be seen as a good thing. The Islanders can finish off the season on a strong note and go into next season knowing that they are capable of producing even when John Tavares, Matt Moulson, and P.A Parenteau are not. For the second straight game, the Islanders held on to their third period lead and found out what exactly it will take to close out games for next season. Even though the playoffs are all but a dream at this point and time, the Isles are showing that they are determined to finish off strong and not simply tanking for a higher draft pick.
Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen, and Kyle Okposo have been clicking together and have made a strong case to stick together for the 2012-2013 NHL season. Everything is subject to change when talking about the future, but if the three aforementioned players can motivate each other and continue to gel, then the Isles' secondary scoring can be a very formidable threat behind the team's top line.
Kyle Okposo continued his scoring streak and he has registered goals in four straight games. Bailey improved on his three point night in Pittsburgh by putting up a career high five points at the Nassau Coliseum. Frans Nielsen also continued his recent hot streak as he extended his point streak to four games with an assist on Kyle Okposo's third period goal.