The wounded Penguins continue to surge despite working with a depleted lineup. Without the services of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Mark Letestu – three of their top four centermen – and Arron Asham, Pittsburgh grinded out a 3-0 victory over Atlantic Division rival New York Islanders at CONSOL Energy Center.
What’s more, the Penguins gave All-Star goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury a rest and started Brent Johnson instead. Not that anyone would have noticed as Johnson, as he has done all season, put together a solid 59-plus minutes between the pipes, stopping all 20 shots he faced. But it was his epic fight with Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro that fans will remember most about this game – KO’ing the NY netminder in one hit.
In the contest, the Penguins scored two goals early – were the victims of a few posts that prevented them from extending the lead – and held down the fort with a strong defensive effort in the third to preserve the victory. Pittsburgh allowed only 20 shots, and kept most of them out along the perimeter. When the Islanders did penetrate the box, Johnson was there to make the save.
Pittsburgh has now won seven of its past eight games. The win gives the Penguins a 33-15-4 record for 70 points (one behind Philadelphia for the top spot in the Eastern Conference).
Brent Johnson couldn’t do any wrong on this night. Not only did he turn aside all 20 shots he faced (16 seconds away from his second shutout of the season), BUT he won the first-ever NHL fight of his career.
In the final seconds of the game, Johnson challenged Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro, who interfered with Matt Cooke behind the net, to a fight. Both netminders dropped their gloves and went toe-to-toe. However, the fight lasted all of one punch as Johnson landed a hard shot to the temple of DiPietro, taking him down instantly with the knockout. Watch Video
Between the pipes, Johnson was nasty. He played his angles perfectly, was aggressive and sharp with his reflexes. His glove hand was particularly active as he snagged a couple of great opportunities for the Islanders.
All in all, not a bad night of work for the Michigan-born goaltender.
Chris Kunitz gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead with a 6:50 remaining in the opening period, a solid lead that the team would never lose.
Kunitz carried the puck on his backhand down the near side. Pascal Dupuis crashed the net and Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro was anticipating a pass when Kunitz sent a sneaky, quick backhander in the net behind the surprised goaltender. Credit Dupuis for being a distraction and Kunitz for the sneaky shot.
(AP) - Brent Johnson made 20 saves and the Pittsburgh Penguins blanked the New York Islanders for the second time in nine days, winning 3-0 on Wednesday night.
Tyler Kennedy, Chris Kunitz and Max Talbot scored for Pittsburgh, which has won four consecutive and seven of eight - all without captain Sidney Crosby (concussion). The Penguins have also been without All-Star center Evgeni Malkin (sinus infection) for five games.
- Maxime Talbot ended his 25-game goalless drought with an empty-net tally in the final minute of the game to seal the victory for the Penguins. Talbot has been one of Pittsburgh’s better players over the past few weeks and was finally rewarded for his efforts. The goal was also the 50th of his career, and 100th career NHL point.
- Tyler Kennedy opened the scoring with a power-play goal 8:08 into the first period. Kennedy located a loose rebound in the low near circle. He ripped shot past a scrambling Rick DiPietro for the score. It was Kennedy’s first goal in seven games.
- The Penguins were robbed twice in the second period by the red painted metal. Three great opportunities for Pittsburgh were turned aside by the goal posts. First, Talbot had a chance from the slot in the opening seconds of the second period. His shot hit the right post, traveled over the goal line and hit the opposite post before deflecting out of the net. The play was so close that the goal horn went off. Dustin Jeffrey had a two-on-one with Kunitz later in the middle frame. Jeffrey made a perfect pass and Kunitz’s shot drilled off the crossbar. Late in the second period, a Craig Adams shot rode the stick of DiPietro and landed (barely) on top of the net and into the Gatorade holder.
- Pittsburgh recorded its second straight shutout against New York, following a 1-0 blanking on Jan. 25 at CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins haven’t allowed the Islanders to score a goal since they tallied 34 seconds into the first period in a Dec. 29 contest in New York. That’s an 184:26-minute scoreless stretch for the Islanders.
#1. Brent Johnson
Goaltender - 1
1 fight win
0 goals allowed
#2. Chris Kunitz
Left Wing - 14
#3. Maxime Talbot
Forward - 25
8 of 10 faceoffs (80%)
Author: Sam Kasan