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Aftermath: Penguins 3, Islanders 1

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
Video:  Game Highlights

Watch: Letang's amazing save
Photos: Penguins 3, Islanders 1
Postgame: Bylsma | Crosby | Kunitz
Aftermath: Pens vs. Islanders
Blog: Pens vs. Isles Game Blog
The Penguins formula for success against the NY Islanders was solid goaltending, clutch special teams and timely goal scoring. Marc-Andre Fleury made 37 saves, Pittsburgh killed all three New York power plays – including critical back-to-back kills in the second period – and scored big goals at crucial times.

The crucial moment of the game occurred when Pittsburgh was forced to kill two straight penalties halfway through the second period without two of their top PK men (see Essentials). Seconds after that kill, Pittsburgh broke the scoreless tie with a goal and the ensuing momentum carried the team to victory.
PITTSBURGH (AP) – Evgeni Malkin took advantage of a couple of favorable bounces to score a goal and set up one of Chris Kunitz's two goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins bounced back from a pair of road losses to beat the New York Islanders 3-1 on Wednesday night.

The referee leaps over the puck for safety
(photo by Getty)
What Went Well: Penalty Kill
With the game deadlocked at 0-0 seven minutes into the second period, the Penguins were assessed back-to-back penalties to Brooks Orpik and Jordan Staal. At a critical juncture in the game, Pittsburgh was shorthanded for 3:12 straight minutes, including 48 seconds of a five-on-three. Despite having two of their best penalty killers in the box, Pittsburgh banded together to survive the volatile situation.

What Could Have Gone Better: Shutout
Marc-Andre Fleury bounced back strong from giving up five goals against Washington on Sunday. He made 37 saves for the win, but it was the save that he didn’t make which put the only scar on a brilliant performance. Frans Nielsen ended the shutout bid.
Marc-Andre Fleury put together a solid 60-minute performance. He stopped 37 of 38 shots to net his 29th win of the season. He made an impressive glove save on Kyle Okposo in the second period, and made a sliding pad save on a cross-ice one-timer by Sean Bergenheim.

What really stood out most to me was his positioning against the post. Fleury’s pads were tight against the iron, while his upper body consumed shooting space. There were no holes for pucks to sneak through, and the Islanders tried hard to jam them in. Goals like that are momentum killers, and Fleury slammed the door.
The game remained scoreless until Pittsburgh broke the standstill with a tally halfway through the second period. The Penguins just killed off two penalties, including 48 seconds worth of a 5-on-3. Evgeni Malkin collected the puck in the neutral zone and led a three-on-two rush. His attempted pass from the near circle hit the stick of New York’s Mark Streit. The puck bounced to Chris Kunitz in the high slot. Kunitz’s spinning wrist shot sneaked into the goal past Dwayne Roloson’s blocker. Pittsburgh 1, New York 0.

The Penguins added to their lead with a score with three minutes left in the second frame. Malkin lost a faceoff in the near dot to Sean Bergenheim. But Bergenheim weakly pushed the puck to Mark Eaton at the near point. Pittsburgh then executed a bang-bang passing scheme for the goal. Eaton hit Sergei Gonchar at the far point. Gonchar went to Malkin to the near side of the cage. Malkin easily re-directed the puck into the vacant net. Pittsburgh 2, New York 0.

The Islanders broke the shut out attempt with a tally at the midpoint of the third period. Bruno Gervais found Frans Nielsen all alone atop the Pittsburgh crease. Fleury sprawled his pads to cover the bottom of the net but Nielsen managed a wraparound shot that got around the Penguin netminder’s outstretched pad. Pittsburgh 2, New York 1.

Kunitz started the play that would end in his second goal of the night. He pushed the puck ahead to Bill Guerin and out of the Pittsburgh zone. Guerin gave the puck back to the streaking Kunitz for a breakaway down the near side. Kunitz snapped off a shot into the netting. Pittsburgh 3, New York 1.
One intriguing matchup that head coach Dan Bylsma used throughout the game was getting the defensive pairing of Kris Letang and Mark Eaton out against rookie sensation John Tavares. Letang’s speed and skating ability allowed him to match Tavares stride for stride, and kept the future superstar in check. Tavares finished the game with no shots and two penalty minutes in 14:17 of action.

There was a great moment in the waning minutes of the second period. Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson took offense to Mike Rupp crashing the crease. Roloson went after Rupp behind the net, which prompted Marc-Andre Fleury to burst out of his crease to his own blue line as a challenge to Roloson. The referees gained control of the scrum, and there was no goalie fight, but the crowd did start a “Fleury! Fleury!” chant for the Penguin netminder’s willingness to stand up for his teammates.
> Pittsburgh improved to 36-22-2 on the season with an 18-10-1 mark at Mellon Arena. Pittsburgh is 8-4-1 in its past 13 games.
> Scoring Summary:
PIT, C.Kunitz (7), 10:33 2nd period: Penguins 1, Islanders 0
PIT, E.Malkin (21), 17:00 2nd period: Penguins 2, Islanders 0
NYI, F.Nielsen (9), 9:38 3rd period: Penguins 2, Islanders 1
PIT, C.Kunitz (8), 14:48 3rd period: Penguins 3, Islanders 1

> The Penguins are now 54-25-6 in the regular season since head coach Dan Bylsma took over. They have a record of 28-11-2 at Mellon Arena.

> Pittsburgh has successfully killed 41 of its last 48 shorthanded situations (85.4 percent).

> Either Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby have figured in on 29 of the last 32 goals for Pittsburgh.

> Sidney Crosby has 15 goals and 25 points over his last 16 contests. He has points in eight of his last 10 games for a total of 17 (9G-8A).

> Evgeni Malkin extended his season-long scoring streak to 11 games. He now has 20 points (8G-12A) over that span.

> Chris Kunitz scored two goals in only his second game back from abdominal surgery.

> Marc-Andre Fleury made 37 saves to record for his 29th win of the season.

> Brooks Orpik posted his 17th assist of the season, tying a single-season career high set last year.

> Despite adverse weather conditions, the Penguins still sold out their contest against the Islanders with 16,980 tickets sold. The heavy snowfall however did prevent a lot of people from showing. Pittsburgh still had a remarkably, strong presence of 13,500 strong.
1. C.Kunitz
2. M.Fleury
3. E.Malkin
"It feels nice the puck going in the net for
you. It feels good to get the win. It’s nice
to get the momentum going again."
- Chris Kunitz


Author: Sam Kasan

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