30 December 2010
Last night’s 2-1 shootout victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins may have been the Islanders biggest win all season. Coming into the game the Penguins were one of the hottest teams in the league, fresh off a win over the Atlanta Thrashers the previous night, and oh yeah their superstar captain came into the game riding a 25 game point streak. Needless to say the Islanders were not the favorites going into the Wednesday night contest.
The first was a quick start for both teams, Marc-Andre Fleury and Rick Dipietro both came up big making big saves early. The Isles had a big opportunity very early on picking off a sloppy penguins pass and creating an odd man rush. However Michael Grabner couldn’t control the bouncing puck and could get a clean shot off on Fleury.
In the second the Islanders jumped on top of the penguins 30 seconds into the period off a rebound goal by Josh Bailey. The Islanders would continue to keep the pressure on the penguins creating several more scoring opportunities including one on another odd man rush, however John Tavares couldn’t finish the opportunity due to a nice defensive play by a diving Penguins player. Another chance came when the Islanders rushed into the Penguins zone, gervais lost control of the puck in front of Fleury. Fleury tried to cover up but the puck squirted loss and Moulson put the puck into the back of the net. Unfortunately for the Islanders a quick whistle by the refs killed the play before Moulson scored. It was the Closing minutes of the second period when the Penguins finally responded and tied the game at one. John Tavares made a poor turnover in the neutral zone allowing the penguins a quick transition back into the Islanders zone. Tyler Kennedy took a bad angle shot that rebounded off the pad of Dipietro and right to Chris Conner who put home the rebound to make it a 1-1 game.
In the third the Penguins nearly took the lead when Rick Dipietro came out of his net to cut off a clearing attempt. Dipietro made a bad pass that went right to Penguin Tyler Kennedy who, fortunately for the Islanders, missed what was a sure go ahead goal. Later in the Period the Penguins would again have a chance to take the lead over the Islanders. Dipietro was forced to make a great close range save however on the ensuing scrum by the net an Islanders player covered the puck in the crease and the referees awarded the Penguins a penalty shot. Kris Letang would get to take the shot but he missed the net on a back hand try.
The third ended tied at one so they teams went to overtime. The Islanders would go down a man in the overtime period, but the Islanders penalty kill stood strong killing off the penalty. The overtime period would end in a stalemate as well.
So the boys went to the shootout. First up Rob Schremp; he would draw first blood. Next was Penguin Kris Letang; he squeaked one through DP and the shootout was all tied up. Next was Frans Nielson; he did his patented shootout move and the Isles were back on top. Crosby was the Pens next shooter, he was stone walled by DP. Tavares had a chance to win it but could get one by Fleury and that allowed Evgeni Malkin to score on his shot. PA Parenteau would score on his attempt and Dipietro would stop Mark Letestu to seal the Islanders win over the Penguins.
Stoping Sidney Crosby’s streak
The Islanders along with the rest of the League were well aware of the point’s streak Sidney Crosby was riding coming into the game. The Islanders players did not seem to harp around that too much at the morning skate prior to the game. So it should be no surprise they were low key about it after the game. “He’s a great player,” Jack Capuano said after the game. He had some chances tonight to keep his streak alive and again our defense and goaltending and just everybody involved. They have some good sticks, but he’s a great player and I’m sure we will be the team that stopped it and we’ll hear about it. I’m sure he’ll start another one soon.”
For the goalie that helped shut out Crosby, he was very keen on passing the complements around. “It wasn’t me; it was a complete team effort,” Dipietro said following the game. It’s a defensive core that played with a lot of focus and a lot of heart tonight, and the offense chipped in. I have said it since the start of the year, but when we are playing smart in our defensive zone, and we aren’t running around making stupid mistakes at our blue line, we are a good hockey team. And when we do make mistakes, you saw what happened against the Rangers. When we don’t chip pucks in, and we make mistakes in that six-foot area before and after the blue line, teams are too good and one too many mistakes in this league will cost you. When we can limit that, I think we have enough talent in here and enough heart that we can compete.”
In deed the Isles D stepped up to the task, allowing Sid the kid only two shots on net the whole game. While pressed several times if they had any specific plan of attack for Crosby the team never mentioned any prior to the game. After however Travis Hamonic let the media in the strategy to containing Sid. “Crosby does win a lot of draws, so when we get one back it’s good to have possession away from him, Hamonic said. Crosby is a world-class player and was streaking for a long time and he is one of the best in the league, so it was nice as a defensive core to get that confidence, but as a whole the six played great out there and we limited his chances. He is going to get some chances because he is that good, but we limited them and when he did get them, we were great.”
No doubt the Islanders enjoyed ending Crosby’s streak, in front of HBO’s 24/7 camera’s no less. The Islanders can be sure to expect more face time on HBO than originally expected thanks to this win.
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