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Penguins vs. Islanders

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Penguins vs Islanders - 2013 SCP Conference Quarterfinals

Five reasons Penguins advanced to second round

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

It wasn't supposed to take six games and two overtime victories, but the Pittsburgh Penguins got it done.

The New York Islanders put up a great fight and even managed to contain Pittsburgh's world-class stars for large stretches. Nevertheless, the Penguins are moving on after defeating the Islanders 4-3 in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal. That opening-series win can be attributed to some of the things everyone expected the top-seeded Penguins to do. But there were some surprises that helped Pittsburgh make it to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2010.

Here are five reasons the Penguins advanced:

1. Bounce-back goals

The Islanders got the jump for much of the series, but the Penguins never relented and were usually able to claw their way back into almost every game. On five occasions, they answered an Islanders goal by scoring less than 2:05 later. In a 6-4, Game 4 loss, the Penguins twice responded to an Islanders goal by scoring less than a minute later.

That quick answer time and again denied the upstart Islanders any opportunity to pull away.

Five reasons Islanders were eliminated from playoffs

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The New York Islanders' first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2007 ended Saturday night with the heartbreak of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. Though the Islanders pushed the Penguins a lot more than a lot of people expected, their lack of experience and Pittsburgh's ability to capitalize on mistakes were too much.

Here are five reasons the Islanders' season is over:

1. Goaltending

Evgeni Nabokov's play down the stretch was a big reason the Islanders got hot in April and made the playoffs for the first time in six years. But Nabokov, one of the few Islanders with substantial playoff experience, lost his touch against the Penguins. He allowed four or more goals in five of the six games, and with rare exception didn't come up with the big save when the Islanders needed it. The Penguins had the same problem with starter Marc-Andre Fleury but were able to switch to an experienced backup, Tomas Vokoun, who excelled in Games 5 and 6. Nabokov's backup was untested rookie Kevin Poulin, who saw action twice in mop-up roles.

Islanders go home with respect after exit

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The New York Islanders didn't get what they wanted Saturday night -- their loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series Saturday night ended the franchise's first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2007.

But they did take away something that hadn't been in great supply on Long Island during the past few years: respect.

General manager Garth Snow launched a complete rebuild after the 2007-08 season began a stretch of five consecutive non-playoff seasons. The lack of on-ice success combined with an outdated arena and small crowds for many games led to a franchise that didn't generate a lot of respect around much of the NHL.

An 11-2-4 surge down the stretch enabled the Islanders to end the playoff drought. But they weren't expected to put up much of a fight against the Penguins, the top seed in the East and a team that has dominated them for the past few years.

Malkin rush swings Game 6 for Penguins

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Trailing 3-2 late in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Islanders, center Evgeni Malkin's struggles typified what had been a lackluster Pittsburgh Penguins effort through two-and-a-half periods.

Until the latter stages of the third period Saturday, Malkin had been prone to giveaways, had registered one shot, and was on the ice for two of the Islanders' three goals. Then, with a chance to advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the line, Malkin did what many great players do: He took over the game with a single play.

Disappointed Islanders look to future

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- There was disappointment in the New York Islanders dressing room Saturday night. But there also was a sense of accomplishment and a feeling there are even better days ahead.

The Islanders' first trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2007 ended in a heartbeat: Brooks Orpik's point shot found its way past two defenders and tucked under the crossbar 7:49 into overtime, giving the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 victory and six-game triumph in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

It was a frustrating night for the Islanders, who led 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, then had the better chances in overtime before Orpik's seeing-eye shot beat Evgeni Nabokov. The Islanders never trailed during play, but they never could get the two-goal lead that would have given them some breathing room.

Orpik, Martin, Vokoun unlikely Penguins heroes

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- When the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins started their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series against the eighth-seeded New York Islanders, it was their world-class collection of stars that was supposed to carry them to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in three years.

But it became apparent early in this series it was Pittsburgh's lesser-known players who would lead the charge.

Whether it was defenseman Douglas Murray's two goals in three games, or rookie Beau Bennett scoring the game-winner in Game 1, Pittsburgh found major contributions coming from unlikely sources.

Penguins' Murray turning into unlikely scoring source

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Douglas Murray
Defense - PIT
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 2
SOG: 4 | +/-: 1
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- If the New York Islanders established a scouting report for their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series listing the most dangerous scorers on the Pittsburgh Penguins vaunted roster, it's fair to say Douglas Murray's name probably wasn't on it.

Boasting one of the most star-studded lineups in hockey, there are several players on the Penguins' blue line who can contribute with timely scoring. Like Norris Trophy finalist Kris Letang, who has done his part by totaling two goals and six points in five playoff games. The two goals entering Game 6 Saturday on Long Island (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS) ties Letang with six other defensemen for the most in the postseason. That list includes Murray, who came into the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs having scored two goals combined in the past three seasons.

"I always try to contribute with getting the puck to the net," Murray said. "It's something I've worked on for years. I think I've got some pretty good shots on the net in the past two years without results. I'm just going to stay at it and hope to get more there. Also, the last goal was a pretty lucky bounce -- you need those sometimes. Whenever you can contribute, it's great."

Hart finalist Tavares enjoying first trip to the playoffs

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

John Tavares
Center - NYI
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 4
SOG: 18 | +/-: -3
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- John Tavares has been in Europe during May for each of the past three years. He's delighted to be able to stay home this spring.

In each of the three previous years, May has meant Tavares was playing for Canada at the IIHF World Championship after his New York Islanders missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now he and the Islanders are in the postseason for the first time since 2007, preparing for a win-or-go-home Game 6 Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nassau Coliseum (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

Penguins conserve energy ahead of possible clincher

Chris Adamski - NHL.com Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Dan Bylsma knew the question was coming. And staying with his stringent Stanley Cup Playoffs policy, the Pittsburgh Penguins coach initially refused to answer it.

"The lineup will not be discussed," were the first words Bylsma uttered when asked who his starting goalie would be for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Islanders 7 p.m. Saturday.

Then, in a tacit acknowledgment of the obviousness of the answer following Tomas Vokoun's shutout in his Penguins postseason debut during Thursday night's Game 4, Bylsma continued on and left little doubt about whom will be between the pipes for Pittsburgh when the puck drops at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, RDS, TSN, ROOT, MSG PLUS).

Fill-in Vokoun lifts Penguins with shutout

Chris Adamski - NHL.com Correspondent

Tomas Vokoun
Goalie - PIT
GAA: 0.00 | SVP: 1.000
PITTSBURGH -- Tomas Vokoun dropped a shot from his glove. Not long after, during Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the Pittsburgh Penguins goalie resorted to merely hoping the puck stayed between his arm and torso. During an ensuing scrum, he was relieved a find the puck underneath his pads after losing track of chance by New York Islanders forward Kyle Okposo.

All of that during the first half of the first period of Vokoun's first appearance in a Stanley Cup Playoff game since 2007.

"I haven't played in the playoffs for such a long time, it's hard to remember six years ago and what to expect," the 36-year-old said afterward. "I got a couple of fortunate bounces -- Okposo's shot got through and it was kind of tight, but the puck stayed under my pad.

"And from that moment on, I started feeling better and moving well. After that I felt pretty good."

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