Isles Rally In Pittsburgh To Even The Series 1-1

 

After being dismally shutout 5-0 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals, the Islanders were headed in the same frightening direction last night in Pittsburgh during the first period of Game 2. The return of Sidney Crosby once again beset the Islanders after he scored his second goal of game to give the Pens a 3-1 lead after a period. 

But a rejuvenated Isles team would show up the in the next frame and eventually shock the Penguins, in addition to just about everybody watching. The Islanders outplayed Pittsburgh for the rest of the game and scored three unanswered goals to even the series at 1-1. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins looked like they wanted to pick things up where they left off in Game 1. Evgeni Malkin got the Pens on the board less than a minute into the game when he backhanded a loose puck through Nabakov. 

The Penguins would strike again on the power play 3 minutes later after Isles defenseman Andrew MacDonald was called for slashing Jussi Jokinen. A huge shot off of the end boards found Jerome Iginla who fed an easy pass to a wide open Sidney Crosby, giving the Pens a 2-0 lead. 

The Islanders would see a glimmer of hope when Deryk Engelland was called off for cross checking 6:22. The Islanders power-play unit set up perfectly where Matt Moulson was able to tally the teams first post season goal with help from Mark Streit and John Tavares. 

The celebrating would be short lived, as the Penguins were able to tally another marker 18 seconds later. After Nabakov coughed up an easy rebound, Sidney Crosby made a bad-angle shot look like just the opposite and put the Pens up 3-1. 

Although the Isles outshot the Penguns 20-12 in the first period, it seemed like the Penguins had all the momentum to eventually close out this game. But the second period would prove to be arguably the most pivotal one of the Islander's entire season. 

As the physical play picked up and the Islanders started to show more grit and composure, a hit from Matt Niskanen on Matt Moulson would spark an unlikely hero to stick up for the team and ignite the entire roster. 

Kyle Okposo squared off with Niskanen for the first fight of his NHL career. Both players landed a few decent shots, but Okposo would get the unofficial W, as his right hooks were able to open up Niskanen's face in a bloody mess. However, it was after the fight that the real victory was attained. 

14 seconds after the fight, Keith Aucoin chipped the puck in deep where Colin McDonald found the loose puck and backhanded it in from behind the the net. Suddenly, we had a hockey game on our hands and the Isles were surging.

Just past the halfway mark of the second, Josh Bailey fired a shot that caromed off the backboards that fooled Marc-Andre Fleury. Matt Martin poked the puck past Fleury to tie the game 3-3. 

Our unlikely hero, Kyle Okposo, would also score the game winning goal 12:23 into the 3rd period. After finding his way through the slot, Okposo quickly turned and fired one off of the backboards (apparently Fleury's kryptonite) that found its way into the back of the net. The Isles would hold on to win the game 4-3 and tie the series at one a piece. 

For the Islanders, it was the kind of jump they needed to get back in the series. For the Penguins, it will only be an excuse to come out stronger. The series heads to Long Island on Sunday where the Islanders and Penguins will play Game 3 at 12pm. 

Let's Go Islanders! 

 

-T.J. Weber

 

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