Penguins assistant coach Gary Agnew gives his three impressions from the bench from the Penguins’ 5-4 shootout loss against the NY Islanders at CONSOL Energy Center.
1. We didn’t get the start that we wanted. They came on us fast and furious, took the quick lead. It was good that we were able to fight our way back into the game and get a point.
2. The (Evgeni) Malkin line, the chemistry now, looks like they’ve got something going. A solid effort from them.
3. Fleury, although he gave up the goals, kept us in the game for a lot of the time, certainly in the end when we gave up a couple point-blank chances that could have cost us the game. He was big.
Sam Kasan gives his three impressions from the press box.
1. Chaos Theory
The Islanders are a team that doesn’t use much of a system or structure to their play. They prefer their players to be creative, play with energy and push the play with their speed. When you are a very structured team like the Penguins, playing against a chaotic style can prove difficult. The result is the Pens find themselves abandoning their own structure and trying to push the play against the Islanders. With both teams playing a free-for-all style, it makes for entertaining hockey games and a shootout style of play. That’s why games between these two clubs can often get crazy. Tonight was no different.
2. Tale of Two Halves
Despite the Penguins’ getting the game’s first goal, the Islanders dominated the first half of the game. The Penguins scored on their opening shot, but didn’t register a second shot until the 12:30 mark of the period. New York mounted leads of 3-1 and 4-2. However, the second half of the game belonged to Pittsburgh. The Penguins owned the third period and overtime. The Islanders were lucky to survive into the shootout.
The trio of Nick Spaling, Malkin and Patric Hornqvist hadn’t found much chemistry in the previous games. Hornqvist said this morning, “I don’t think we have been really clicking that much lately, though, hopefully we can get it tonight.” The trio had a rough start, as did the rest of the team, and was on the ice for three of the Islanders’ four goals. But they started to find their chemistry as the game progressed. With the Pens’ down 4-2, the line scored two goals to even the score at 4-4. Spaling tallied from the crease and Hornqvist tied the game with a nasty shot from the slot. On both plays Malkin was able to find Hornqvist with a nice pass. Malkin and former linemate James Neal had great chemistry together. Neal would find the soft spots in the opponent’s zone, Malkin would find him, Neal would finish. Hornqvist is starting to look that way, finding those open spots and Malkin is getting him the puck. Expect to see more of that as the two continue to play together.