Official Scoresheet | Official Super Stats
By Jason Lockhart
Rick DiPietro turned aside 35 of 36 shots as the Islanders snapped a four-game losing streak and defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum Thursday night by the score of 3-1. The win gave DiPietro a career-high 31 wins on the season.
Tonight's game was filled with passion, intensity and physical play. Twice in the second period the Islanders and Penguins were called for coincidental due to roughhousing after the whistle.
"There were a lot of emotions running this game, but we kept them in check," said Ted Nolan. "Every game is like a playoff game. We need to play really determined hockey and tonight we did."
Trent Hunter, Jason Blake, and Viktor Kozlov scored, while Miroslav Satan added two assists.
A key to the Islanders' victory was their penalty killing. They successfully killed off six power plays, including 36 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time in the second period. The Islanders went 1-for-4 with the extra man.
"On the penalty kill we wanted good down-low pressure," said Ryan Smyth. It was also important to limit Crosby's chances. We kept them on the outside and when we needed him, Ricky was there."
The Penguins scored the first goal of the game with 3:05 left in the first period. Gary Roberts fed Colby Armstrong while on a 3-on-1 break for the first goal of the game.
The Islanders, however, would score three unanswered goals to secure the win. At 2:37 of the second period, the Islanders struck back on the power play. Hunter tallied his 20th goal of the season with a laser for a wrist shot from the slot. Satan and Chris Campoli picked up the assists.
A shift after the Hunter goal, DiPietro came up big when he stopped Evgeni Malkin on a breakaway with the right pad.
Blake gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead with a wrist shot from the slot, 5:12 into the second period for his team-leading 36th goal of the season. Following the goal, things got nasty with Blake and Armstrong going off for roughing. On the next shift, Brendan Witt and Sidney Crosby went at it at the other end and were called for coincidental minors as well.
The excitement continued when Tom Poti hauled down Malkin on a breakaway with 6:26 gone by in the second period, leading to a penalty shot. On the ensuing one-on-one, DiPietro stoned Malkin again to keep the Islanders up by one.
"Ricky stood tall to the stop the penalty shot," said head coach Ted Nolan. "It was a huge save at an important time. Big goaltenders make those big saves."
The action continued when the Islanders successfully killed off 36 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time for the Penguins with Poti and Sean Hill in the box. The rough stuff continued throughout the period, but no more goals were scored.
Kozlov tied his career-high with his 22nd goal of the season at 2:12 of the third period. Alexei Yashin dished the puck on the rush to Kozlov, who fired a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Penguins pressed in the final minutes, but DiPietro stood tall to capture the win. The Penguins out-shot the Islanders 36-32 in the game.
After wins tonight by Montreal and Carolina, the Islanders are still one point out of a playoff spot with games in hand on both teams.
The Islanders next travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers, Saturday afternoon.
Five Stars of the Game
1. Rick DiPietro: Stood on his head at times to earn his 31st win of the season
2. Viktor Kozlov: Tied a career-high with his 22nd goal, +1
3. Miroslav Satan: Two helpers
4. Colby Armstrong: Scored his fourth goal in eight games versus the Islanders
5. Brendan Witt: A key player in limiting the Penguins' offense
Stat of the Game: The Islanders won the season series 9-8 in points.
Fans of the Game: Siblings Michelle and Peter as well as Kurt hails from the town of Islip. Peter's a hockey fan because of the "thrill of the game." Michelle, meanwhile, is a big Rick DiPietro fan. Ironically, Kurt noted that his favorite Islanders game he attended this season was the last Penguins game in which the Islanders won 6-5. After the excitement of this one, he might just change his mind.
Slapshots: The Islanders began a stretch of six out of eight games on home ice...Trent Hunter became the sixth Islander to score 20 goals this season, joining Jason Blake, Ryan Smyth, Mike Sillinger, Miroslav Satan, and Viktor Kozlov...Tonight's attendance was 14, 547.
Game Operations: The "Alure Down on the Farm Report" featured the Islanders prospects participating in the upcoming NCAA Division I Tournament. The prospects included the Islanders' 2006 first round draft pick, Kyle Okposo, who skates for No. 1 ranked Minnesota...Chelsea Plank was tonight's Junior Ice Girl. Only nine years old, Chelsea performed a flawless routine that included a number of jumps...onight's Palmer Vineyard Vintage Moment was the Islanders' upset over the Penguins in the opening round of the 1993 playoffs. David Volek scored the overtime winner in Game Seven to top the No. 1 seeded Penguins.
39 Rick DiPietro
1 Mike Dunham
32 Brendan Witt - 44 Freddy Meyer
14 Chris Campoli - 6 Sean Hill
3 Tom Poti - 47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
55 Jason Blake - 79 Alexei Yashin - 94 Ryan Smyth
20 Richard Zednik - 27 Randy Robitaille - 81 Miroslav Satan
11 Andy Hilbert - 18 Mike Sillinger - 7 Trent Hunter
25 Viktor Kozlov -10 Richard Park - 45 Arron Asham
29 Marc-Andre Fleury
41 Jocelyn Thibault
44 Brooks Orpik - 19 Ryan Whitney
2 Josef Melichar - 55 Sergei Gonchar
32 Alain Nasreddine - 5 Rob Scuderi
8 Mark Recchi - 87 Sidney Crosby - 12 Ryan Malone
10 Gary Roberts - 25 Maxime Talbot - 20 Colby Armstrong
11 Jordan Staal - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 7 Michel Ouellet
37 Jarkko Ruutu - 16 Erik Christensen - 27 Georges Laraque