Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet gives his three impressions from the bench of the Penguins’ 6-3 loss against the New York Islanders.
1. I thought the puck management wasn’t one of our better games. The Islanders had better puck management, a better forecheck.
2. A positive, the power play was good tonight. It’s starting to come alive, which is nice.
3. Not enough players tonight. Too many passengers. Plain and simple.
Sam Kasan gives his three impressions from the press box.
This game was about more than just two points in the standings. Tonight’s game was more about the psychological impact of the outcome. The Pens have owned the division over the past several years. The Islanders are trying to claim the throne. The Islanders made a statement by winning the home-and-home series against Pittsburgh in November. With tonight’s victory, the Islanders not only feel like they can stand toe-to-toe with the Pens, but that they can beat them. And that can make all the difference in a playoff series should these two teams end up colliding.
2. Crosby Breaks Out
Sidney Crosby had been on the verge of breaking out for the past couple of games. He came up with a huge performance for Pittsburgh, scoring two goals and adding an assist for a three-point night. Crosby crashed the net on a power play and a rebound puck went off his body and in the net. A beautiful passing sequence in the final seconds of the second period led to Crosby with the puck on his stick and a prone Jaroslav Halak. He lifted the puck for the tally. Crosby had a lot of jump and played like the dominant force that he is.
3. Grind it Out
The Pens and Isles are two highly skilled teams, but this game was won in the trenches. Both teams fought hard and battled along the walls and the corners. The Pens’ line of Nick Spaling, Evgeni Malkin and Beau Bennett was particularly aggressive in its grit level. Every shift they were fighting for 50-50 pucks on the wall, crashing the net and exerting their will. They really stood out for the Pens. Both teams brought the noise, but the Islanders won the majority of those battles.