Islanders Freeze the Penguins in the New Igloo
The Islanders came into Pittsburgh Friday night for the first time since last season's playoffs, and just like that series, the Isles caused a lot of headaches for Sidney Crosby and company as they ended up pulling out a miraculous 4-3 win. New York earned their 2 points in over a week and did it in comeback fashion.
The Islanders came into the game extremely shorthanded at the defensive end of the ice with Lubomir Visnovsky still out indefinitely with a concussion and Brian Strait now day to day with an upper body injury. The Islanders suited up long time Islander Radek Martinek who they signed earlier this week to at least have another body, but Martinek played a huge part in the conclusion of this game.
The Penguins on the other hand came in with their best defensemen, Kris Letang, playing in his first game of the season after missing the first nine games with a knee injury.
The Penguins came into the game with a 16-4-1 record against the Islanders over their last 21 contests, but this night belonged to Evgeni Nabokov and solid special teams.
The Islanders struck first in the opening period on the power play on a great effort by Matt Moulson and Frans Nielsen in front of the net. Moulson put it past the Pens' rookie goaltender Jeff Zatkoff after John Tavares fed Nielsen in the slot and Moulson did the dirty work as falling down. That power play tally ended a streak in which the Penguins did not let up a goal a man down at home in 37 straight chances in the regular season.
Pittsburgh came back a few minutes later with a odd man rush just as the Isles killed off a power play with Brandon Sutter shooting high on Nabokov who left a juicy rebound for Jussi Jokinen and put back to tie the score at 1.
Crosby got the only goal of the 2nd period on the 2 on 1 breakaway as Chris Kunitz sprung him free and he wristed it past Nabokov. Even though the Isles were down, on the scoreboard they were still very much in the game and the final 10 minutes of the game is the reason many of us love this game.
Frans continued his torrid start to the 13-14 season with his 6th goal of the year on a redirection from d-man Thomas Hickey. Unfortunately the game was only tied for 16 seconds with Deryk Engelland crashing the net and tipping the puck past Nabokov.
Down by 1 goal again, the Islanders began a strong forecheck in the Pittsburgh zone. The Pens tried to clear but the Isles new acquisition Radek Martinek kept the puck and found a wide open Pierre-Marc Bouchard in front of the net who slid the puck between Zatkoff's legs and once again the game was tied up.
With 2 minutes remaining in regulation the Penguins looked to find the back of the net and had everyonein the Isles zone, but eventually gave had the puck taken away from Josh Bailey. Bailey skated out of control through center ice with a defensmen on his hip, he was able to just nudge the puck to Kyle Okposo who was also being harassed by a Penguin. Okposo took the puck deep into Pittsburgh's zone, turned, and passed it back to Bailey who was stopped initially by Zatkoff, but that guy Nielsen grabbed the rebound, found Bailey open in front of the net and the Isles took the lead for good.
The Isles took four penalties in the first period, five total, but ended up not giving up a goal to one of the most vaunted power play units in the league. New York was also out shot 42-25. They were bending the entire contenst, but never broke and grabbed a huge regulation win.
The second place Islanders hope to keep the good times going as they play the second of their back to back games tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.