Gameday #10 Recap: @ New York Islanders, With Love from New York

Perhaps less of a “must win” for the Pens, but they entered this battle with a three game losing streak against the Isles (not sure but I think that was their longest active losing streak against any one team) and the Pens had the amps to get the job done. Pens are now 7-3 and in first place in the East, but this isn’t time for the Pens to relax. Get a recap after the jump.

First Period.

Early back and forth. Isles are definitely on a different level from past years. The fourth line takes their first shift, Craig Adams hustles, forces Marty Reasoner into a penalty.

On the ensuing power play, Sid wins the faceoff to himself, dishes it to Neal who’s sitting in Naby’s wheelhouse on the far post. Easy squeezy. Pens lead 1-0. As my sister very astutely noted, this is what the Pens power play should always look like.

Oh man… what a picture

Islanders didn’t get emo though, and as the period progressed the penalties started. With a little more than 5 minutes left in the period Craig Adams went off for interference. No sooner did the Pens get the kill than Despres went off for an ugly trip on someone.

At some point Tanner Glass started chirping Colin McDonald as retribution for the board he laid on Ben Lovejoy last week. Off the draw the chirping continued and then Matt Martin tried to snooker Glass while he was still looking at McDonald. That was an even battle.

After the Pens killed off Despres’ penalty they went back to work in the offensive zone. And then Neal took a Bad Offensive Zone Penalty TM with 5 seconds to go.

Second Period.

The Pens came out of the gate knowing they would have to kill a penalty, and that’s just what they did.  Neal gets back on the ice, play goes into the Islanders zone. Travis Hamonic jobs TK, Pens go back on the PP. Not dominant but Sid came through with an unreal hold on the blue line to prevent a Grabner breakaway. I understand that he does need to take faceoffs, but maybe he could take the draw and then drop back.

After that play Crosby got popped in the nose by a blocked shot off the stick of Brian Strait. He was bleeding a lot.

Then the Pens took three straight penalties, again: Despres (again), Kunitz, and Neal (again). Killed like woah.

Things were just getting boring when Simon Depres decided to man up and drive Kyle Okposo off the puck and into the boards. From there’s the puck squirted out to the far side of the ice where Wayne Kunitz grabbed it. Despres decided he wasn’t done ruining Ben Lovejoy’s (and probably Joe Morrow or Brian Dumolin or Derrick Pouliot’s) career and decided to run coast to coast. Wayne felt him coming, dished it back. One timer. 2-0 Pens. All of a sudden he IS looking very early-Letang out there.

Late in the period Brian Strait thought Brandon Sutter’s stick was his. Pens back on the PP as the period ended.

Third Period.

Nothing doing on the Pens PP chance early in the period. But it didn’t really matter because the shift after the power play with Cooke-Sutter-Boychuk took care of it. 2-on-1, Cooke dishes to Sutter. Naby should have had it. 3-0 Pens.

It was looking like the Pens were just going to run away with the game but then the Islanders realized they needed to start caring. Not long after the Pens goal the Islanders came back, Grabner with a fairly handsy move on the deflection. 3-1 Pens.

And before you could say “who cares” Brad Boyes got hold of a really fat rebound (probably the only big issue in Fleury’s game all night). 3-2 Pens.

No doubt about it, the Isles didn’t quit in this game and we give them credit for that. With about five minutes left in the game the Kunitz took an ill-conceived penalty. You really felt that the Islanders would find a way, but for the 7th time in the game the Pens’ PK answered the call.

PK, taking care of business

Duper added the empty netter. 4-2 Pens.

Thought/Notes.

  • Games against the Islanders are turning into total grudge matches. For a while I had attended three straight games against the Islanders because nobody wanted the tickets. I don’t see that being the same anymore.
  • Boychuk looked downright average yesterday. We’re definitely pulling for him, but he seemed to suffer from the frequent penalties (i.e. not playing).
  • Pens stopped all 7 Islanders power plays. Fleury made 16 saves while shorthanded.
  • This was vintage Fleury all the way. He absolutely made the saves that other goalies can’t. We were really tough on him when the Pens lost to the Isles (and justifiably so) last week, but this was the exact opposite kind of performance.
  • Glad to see the PK doing such great work but a lot of these penalties were not very good calls to take. Would be just as happy to see the Pens stay out of the box as we are to see them kill so many.

Home against the Caps in hours.

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