- Isaac Brendel
Islanders Edge: Dominant effort in Pittsburgh falls short, Isles drop second straight to Pens
photo credit: Keth Srakocic - staff, AP
In Pittsburgh on Saturday night, the New York Islanders were met with a tall task. In Penguins captain Sidney Crosby’s 1000th career game, the Pens looked to rally behind their captain and member of the organization for sixteen years. The Isles had to outplay the Penguins and wear their defense down while forechecking mercilessly to win this hockey game.
Overall, New York had a great start. Oliver Wahlstrom was buzzing all night and came close to his second NHL goal several times, even hitting a post. Barry Trotz’s guys played a very structured and disciplined game. However, it was Pittsburgh that found the score sheet first. After a scoreless first period in which the Isles outshot the Penguins 16-4, 12:35 into the second period, Kris Letang scored his first goal of the season. Evgeni Malkin picked up an assist, but who picked up the other? Yup, you guessed it—the man of the hour, Sidney Crosby.
New York’s response to the Pens goal was fantastic. They did what they needed to do, worked the puck, pushed the play, and eventually tied the game. 15:28 into the second period, Jordan Eberle scored his seventh goal of the season. Anthony Beauvillier picked up his second assist of the year. The Isles outshot the Pens 10-8 in the second frame. New York kept this play going into the third period, where just 53-seconds in, Brock Nelson scored and gave the Isles a 2-1 lead. Scott Mayfield did a great job of keeping the puck in the zone and recorded the lone assist on Nelson’s fifth goal of the season. Once again, the Islanders dictated the game. All signs pointed to the boys in blue and orange, spoiling Sid the kid’s big night.
This was until Isles’ arch-enemy Mike Matheson scored his first goal of the season 7:35 in, on assists from Teddy Blueger and Sam Lafferty. Again, the Isles bounced back and played their game. They deserved to win but just came up short when Kris Letang scored his second goal of the game and season. Jake Guenztel netted his eighth assist of the season, and who got the other one? Again, the man of the hour, number 87.
With an empty net, the Pens locked it down defensively and gave the Isles nothing. The final score was 3-2 from an empty PPG Paints arena filled with joy because of their captain’s major accomplishment.
This was New York’s game. Outshooting Pittsburgh 35-18 on the night, this loss stings for the Islanders. In such a tight MassMutual East division playoff race, these points left on the table can come back to haunt you. This loss will need to be put behind the blue and orange as soon as possible, as they once again take on the struggling Buffalo Sabres at the Nassau Coliseum on Monday at 7:00 PM Eastern Time. This game will be nationally televised on NBCSN.