Isles Start Strong, Fail To Finish In Pittsburgh

The New York Islanders, riding a four game winning streak to start the season, saw their winning string snapped in Pittsburgh.

The Penguins beat the Islanders 3-1 behind strong special teams play. Patric Hornqvist had 2 goals including an empty netter, and added an assist. Penguins star Evgeni Malkin had the other Pittsburgh goal and also had a helper on Hornqvist’s first of the game.

The Islanders, who lost for the first time all season, started the game strong. New York jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Thomas Hickey in the first.

On the play, Brock Nelson brought the puck into the Pens’ zone. The puck went to Ryan Strome, who slid a beautiful pass across the slot to a streaking Hickey. The defenseman buried the puck behind Mark Andre Fleury.

Unfortunately for the Isles, it was all downhill from there.

After taking a 1-0 to the locker room at the first intermission, the Isles quickly lost momentum. Things really swung Pittsburgh’s way when New York failed to convert, or even really threaten, on an extended 5-on-3.

Later in the period, the Penguins got their own 5-on-3 and tied the game behind a Malkin goal. In the ensuing man advantage, Hornqvist gave the Pens the lead for good, redirecting a Malkin blast past Jaroslav Halak.

Hornqvist got the empty net goal to seal the scoring and cement New York’s loss.

The real story of the game was the special teams. The Pens and Isles, coming into the game, combined to have the top two power plays and bottom two penalty killing units in the league. Two of those trends continued.

The Islanders went 0-7 on the power play and rarely displayed any of their vaunted speed. In addition, the passing wasn’t as sharp as it had been in their first four contests. On the other hand, the Pens racked up two power play tallies on only four opportunities.

It is clear that Islander assistant coach Doug Weight has a lot of work to do with the penalty killing unit before New York takes on the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum.

Game Notes:

The Islanders inserted Colin McDonald into the line up to replace the ailing Mikhail Grabovski. Grabovski was hurt early in the Islanders’ victory over San Jose on Thursday. New York lists him as day to day. Frans Nielsen was blasted by Steve Downie with 13 minutes left in the third. Travis Hamonic immediately came to Nielsen’s defense and took on Downie. Sidney Crosby had two assists in the game. The Isles and Pens goalies combined to stop 70 of 73 shots in tonight’s game.

 

-Donovan Brooks

 

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