Pittsburgh Earns Record Win As Islanders Squander Opportunities
The Pittsburgh Penguins, riding a record month long winning streak of 14 games, played host to the New York Islanders this afternoon and pulled away late to earn the 2-0 victory. It is the first time a team has played at least 10 games in a month without a loss.
The victory, Pittsburgh's 15th straight, was also a record night in another way: the Pens have extended their club record shutout streak. The Pens shutout streak now extends over 208 minutes as Pittsburgh has won the last three by shutout.
Pens netminder Tomas Vokoun has extended his personal best shutout streak to just shy of 163 minutes.
The game could have went another way though.
The Pens were without their top two defensemen, Kris Letang and Paul Martin. In addition, Chris Kunitz got a game misconduct in the second period and Sidney Crosby got hurt early in the game. More on Crosby's injury later. (Photo credit: flikr/Thebeev)
Also, the Isles had opportunities. Most notably when Penguins assistant captain Chris Kunitz shoved Islanders forward Josh Bailey awkwardly into the boards to the right of the Isles net, knocking Bailey out of the game and earning Kunitz a five minute major and game misconduct.
Even better still, with a little over two minutes left on that five minute power play, Pittsburgh took another penalty. This one was the result of Brooks Orpik's trip on Kyle Okposo just inside the Pittsburgh blue line.
The Isles, up to this point, had by and large been the better team and so it seemed this might just be what the doctor ordered for New York to jump out to a lead.
The Islanders must have never filled that prescription however as the five on three, in addition to the rest of the five minute power play, was very discombobulated. The best player on the ice at any time during that period of time was Pens' pest Matt Cooke. During one moment in the five on three, Cooke single-handedly kept the puck in the Isles zone against four New York skaters!
When the penalties were killed, all momentum swung to the Pens and they took advantage. With twelve minutes left, Cooke jumped on a loose puck and beat Isles goalie Evgeni Nabokov five hole to get the game's first goal. (Photo credit: flikr/clydeorama)
The Pens won the faceoff in the circle to Nabokov's right and fed the puck back to Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland who's point shot was blocked. Cooke found the puck and slid it home.
Five minutes later, the Penguins would add another. Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey pinched at the Pens blue line trying to keep the puck in the offensive zone, but the puck got past him to Pittsburgh forward James Neal. This created a two on one break. Neal kept the puck and fired a snap shot past Nabokov to extend the lead and end all scoring for the night.
The game had some interesting notes. First and foremost, it was future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla's first game in a uniform other than a Calgary Flames uniform. The Penguins acquired Iginla on Thursday for a couple of prospects and he just arrived in Pittsburgh this morning.
The Penguins 15th consecutive win ties for the second longest streak in National Hockey League history with the 1981-82 Islanders. The longest streak ever in the NHL is 17 games by the 1992-93 Pens.
Also of note were injuries. The biggest one being a mere 87 seconds into the contest. Orpik fired a shot from the point that was deflected right into the face of superstar center Sidney Crosby. Crosby, according to the Penguins official twitter account, lost multiple teeth and has already had oral surgery.
The Isles lost Bailey for the game on the Kunitz hit. He will be reevaluated. Islanders center Keith Aucoin took a puck to the face late in the game in the Pittsburgh zone. His status is to be determined, as well. Lastly, Michael Grabner left the ice favoring a leg.
The Islanders will get back on that horse on April Fool's day Monday against the New Jersey Devils in New Jersey before hosting the Winnipeg Jets the following night.
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