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Aftermath: Islanders 3, Penguins 2 SO

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
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The Penguins picked up a crucial point in interim head coach Dan Bylsma’s NHL debut. Bylsma opened up the offense by letting his defense pinch and getting his forwards to go hard to the net. The Penguins responded with a season-high 37 shots on goal in the new up-tempo approach.

The Penguins looked sloppy at the start of the game, which is to be expected from a team and coaching staff that was adjusting on the fly to a new strategy, system and style. Pittsburgh found its rhythm and started clicking in the second period. The Penguins outshot New York, 27-18, from the second period until the end of the game and were swarming around the Islanders goal.

In the next two days, the coaching staff and players will get on the same page. Bylsma will have a few practices to start instilling his aggressive mentality into the Penguins blue print. The Penguins' will be better prepared Thursday night when they host Montreal.
The Penguins fell to the New York Islanders, 3-2, in a shootout in interim head coach Dan Bylsma's first game behind the bench for Pittsburgh.

The Penguins, who registered a season-high 37 shots, had goals from Evgeni Malkin and Ryan Whitney. New York had scores from Chris Campoli and Frans Nielsen.

Interim head coach Dan Bylsma made his first appearance behind the bench for Pittsburgh
(photo by Getty)
What Worked Well: Aggressive
It will take Dan Bylsma time to establish his style but he did preach to the team to be aggressive in their matchup with the Islanders. Message delivered; message received.  The Penguins were aggressive and then some, particularly in front of the net. Pittsburgh established a presence and created havoc in the Islanders crease. The Penguins went hard to the net on rushes and their defense pinched in on plays. Bylsma opened up the offense and the Penguins threw everything they had at the net. They finished the game with a season-high 37 shots on goal.

What Could Have Gone Better: Shootout
The Penguins had an opportunity to get two points when the contest went to a shootout. However, Pittsburgh fell, 2-1, to the Islanders in the shootout. Evgeni Malkin’s attempt was ruined when the puck hit a bad patch of ice and skidded off his stick. Malkin had goalie Joey MacDonald leaning the wrong way but couldn’t re-collect the puck. Marc-Andre Fleury made a great poke check on New York’s Kyle Okposo to keep the Penguins alive. Sidney Crosby needed to score to keep the shootout going. He made a great move on MacDonald but the netminder just got his pad on the puck at the last second. Crosby was only inches from forcing an additional round.
All eyes were on Dan Bylsma in his first game behind the bench for the Penguins. It isn’t fair to judge him from his first game because Bylsma was interim head coach for less than 24 hours and didn’t even have an opportunity to hold a practice or morning skate before his first game. He did tell the team to play aggressive and let them open it up offensively against the Islanders. It will take him some time to really implement his system and style. This team will eventually take on his personality – hardnosed, passionate and energetic.
The Islanders scored the game’s first goal with some fortunate bounces. Sean Bergenheim, who was above the far circle, sent a puck towards the slot. His pass hit the shin of Penguins defenseman Kris Letang and then caromed off of the skate of New York’s Chris Campoli. The puck then bounced under the left arm of Marc-Andre Fleury and into the goal. New York 1, Pittsburgh 0.

Evgeni Malkin tied the game with his 25th goal late in the first period. Campoli thwarted Miroslav Satan’s attempt to clear the puck from the Penguins zone. But Satan chipped his second opportunity around Campoli off the boards. Campoli was flatfooted and Malkin raced around him to collect the puck and was one-on-one in the Islanders zone. Malkin curled and dragged the puck before rifling it through the legs of Joey MacDonald. Pittsburgh 1, New York 1.

Former Penguin Andy Hilbert sent a shot on net from the point. Fleury made the save and thought he smothered the puck. Somehow the puck squeezed through his body and fell into the crease. Frans Nielsen was there to bat the puck over the goal line. New York 2, Pittsburgh 1.

Pittsburgh tied the game with a power-play goal late in the second period. Sidney Crosby had the puck low in the far circle. He made a backhand, cross-ice, backdoor feed to Ryan Whitney. Malkin was atop of the crease screening MacDonald. Whitney didn’t one-time a shot but skated in a little closer and roofed a shot into the goal. Pittsburgh 2, New York 2.
The Penguins coaching staff wasn’t the only aspect of the team that was realigned. Pittsburgh also sported new combinations. The forward combinations through the first two periods were: Pascal Dupuis-Sidney Crosby-Ruslan Fedotenko; Miroslav Satan-Evgeni Malkin-Petr Sykora; Tyler Kennedy-Jordan Staal-Matt Cooke; Eric Godard-Bill Thomas-Maxime Talbot. The defensive pairings were: Rob Scuderi-Hal Gill; Ryan Whitney-Kris Letang; Brooks Orpik-Sergei Gonchar.

The Penguins power play looked like it was clicking better. Sergei Gonchar’s return has helped but some credit has to go to Malkin and Sykora. Both players were absorbing punishment to establish themselves in front of the net. They were hacking at loose pucks and were both put on their backs at times by the Islanders. However, Malkin’s presence provided a screen to help Pittsburgh net a man-advantage goal.

Staal made a brilliant defensive play on the Islanders Kyle Okposo in the middle of the third period. The New York forward had the puck in the high slot and wound up for a wrist shot. Staal backchecked and tied up Okposo’s stick before he could get the shot off. If Okposo scores there, it could be a back breaker. Later on the same sequence, Staal stole the puck from Okposo to clear the zone.
> Pittsburgh dropped to 27-25-6 on the year, with a 12-13-4 mark on the road. The Penguins are 3-3 in shootouts this season.

> NYI, C.Campoli (6), 11:34 1st period: Islanders 1, Penguins 0.
PIT, E.Malkin (25), 18:06 1st period: Penguins 1, Islanders 1.
NYI, F.Nielsen (3), 13:26 2nd period: Islanders 2, Penguins 1.
PIT, R.Whitney PP (2), 17:07 2nd period: Penguins 2, Islanders 2.
NYI: F.Nielsen (scored), J.Tambellini (scored), K.Okposo (stopped)
PIT: P.Sykora (scored), E.Malkin (stopped), S.Crosby (stopped)

> Pittsburgh recorded a season-high 37 shots on net.

> Evgeni Malkin tallied a goal against the Islanders to extend his NHL lead in points to 82 (25G-57A). Malkin’s 57 assists are a league best. In his last 18 games, Malkin has collected 10 goals and 12 assists for 22 points. Malkin has notched a point in 13 of his last 16 games.

> Sidney Crosby notched an assist while battling through an illness. He is third in the league in scoring with 73 points (21G-52A) and his 52 assists are second most in the league behind teammate Malkin’s 57. In Crosby’s last 17 games, he’s posted six goals and 17 assists for 23 points in that span.

> Ryan Whitney scored his first power-play goal since Feb. 7, 2008, when he notched two man-advantage scores, also against the Islanders.

> Sergei Gonchar notched his first point of the season with an assist on Whitney’s goal.

> Petr Sykora played in his 900th game.
1. J.MacDonald, NYI
2. F.Nielson, NYI
3. S.Bergenheim, NYI
"Mentality-wise. Being aggressive. Being on your toes. Make
them deal with your speed and skill. That's the message
we wanted to send. We have speed and skill and
we need to utilize it. We want to go north."
- Dan Bylsma on



Author: Sam Kasan

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