Isles Get Manhandled By Pens In Isles' First Playoff Game Since 2007
The Pittsburgh Penguins played like a top seed in this opening game of the Stanley Cup playoff series between Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders tonight in Pittsburgh.
The Pens scored five goals, including two on the power play, to blow by an Islander squad that showed little jump all evening. All of this was done without the Pens having their best player as Sidney Crosby is still recovering from the broken jaw he got on March 30th in a game against the Isles.
Pittsburgh got the offense going early. With defenseman Brian Strait off for interference only 1:40 into the first period, the Pens took advantage. Late in the penalty, the Isles cleared the puck, but it went off of a linesman, so the clear didn't go deep. The Penguins quickly got the puck back into the Islanders in and on the stick of Beau Bennett. Bennett goes around defenseman Andrew MacDonald and beats Isles goalie Evgeni Nabokov with a sharp-angle shot.
Nabokov looked shaky for his entire stint in the game, especially after taking Jerome Iginla's slap shot from in close off the mask.
The Pens added to their lead about ten minutes later. On a scramble in front of the Isles net, the Pens had several chances that either Nabokov or one of his defensemen were able to get in front of, but eventually the puck went to Pascal Dupuis who was able to find the back of the net to make it 2-0.
With the Isles short-handed early in the second, Marty Reasoner took a tripping penalty to give Pittsburgh a two man advantage. The Isles held strong until right after captain Mark Streit's penalty expired. That was when Pitt defenseman Kris Letang got on the board.
Only 35 seconds later, the Pens added another goal.
This goal started with hard work from Jussi Jokinen. The Pitt forward dug the puck out of the corner and fed defenseman Mark Eaton at the point. His pass found a wide open Dupuis right in front of the net. Dupuis faked forehand and went backhand to extend the Pens' lead to 4-0.
That goal sent Nabokov to the showers. Enter Kevin Poulin.
Poulin had a strong night and played well, but the Pens just proved too much for this inexperienced Islander squad.
Tanner Glass would add a goal late in the second but it was entirely inconsequential. The only fight displayed by either team was by the Penguins. The Pens outskated a great skating New York team and they were more physical.
The Isles could not even muster consistent quality play on the power play, going 0-4 with the extra man.
There was some late extracurricular activity as New York fourth liner Marty Reasoner got his skate tangled up with Jokinen's skate earning the little used centerman a five minute major and game misconduct. It will be interesting to see if Pitt, who was already playing very physical, will ratchet up the intensity on Friday's rematch in game two.
For Pittsburgh, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury earned his sixth shutout in the playoffs in his career stopping 26 Islanders shots. However, he was only forced to make a handful of difficult saves.
The Islanders, now having had a taste of what playoff hockey is all about, will have to find a little more inner fire if they hope for a better outcome in game two.
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