Everything you need to know about the Penguins’ 3-2 shootout win over the Islanders:
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK
Things were looking bleak for the Penguins after Matt Martin scored 45 seconds into the third period to give the Islanders a 2-0 lead.
The Penguins dominated the first two periods and could have been extremely frustrated trailing by two despite their strong play. But the team banded together and rebounded with two goals in a 2:16 span to even the score.
It started when the Penguins answered Martin’s goal with a tally 44 seconds later by Chris Kunitz
to break the shutout and get the team on the board.
“It was a great play by (Kris Letang
) to direct it towards (Pascal Dupuis
), who was standing at the side of the net and that kind of put it right on net into the crowd of people,” Kunitz said. “’Duper’ did a great job of battling and putting it in front. I had a little bit of a battle and pushed off a guy, got the puck in the blue paint and pushed it in the net.”
Pittsburgh used a power play to draw the game even. Thanks to some beautiful tic-tac-toe passing, James Neal
found himself with a lot of open net to shoot and made no mistake in burying his shot.
“I think it was just two quick goals that kind of turns the momentum of the game, especially getting the power-play goal,” Kunitz said. “We’ve been having such good success and just not getting one in, so I think it was just a good team effort. We stuck to our game plan and got the win.”
The last time the Penguins won a game after trailing by two goals was April 3, 2010, a 4-3 overtime win against Atlanta. Former Penguin Jordan Leopold scored the winner.
Kunitz added, “It’s nice to get a win when we come from behind, especially if it’s something we haven’t done in a long time.”
GOING TO THE BULLPEN
The Penguins and Islanders battled for 65 minutes, but it wasn’t enough as both teams were still equal at 2-2. So this contest was decided by a shootout, but it wasn’t a normal shootout situation.
The Islanders replaced goaltender Evgeni Nabokov with Rick DiPietro for the shootout. DiPietro, who hasn’t played a game yet this season, stopped two of the three Penguins shooters.
“(Nabokov) was fatigued and wasn’t feeling well,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. “So I had to put Rick.”
But Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
was one better, stopping all three shooters to give Pittsburgh the win.
The lone shootout scorer was Evgeni Malkin
. As Malkin carried toward the net, DiPietro laid out for an aggressive poke-check. But Malkin patiently handled the puck and slid it right under DiPietro’s pad for the score.
“It was a surprise for me, I think it was a surprise for the whole team,” Malkin said of the goalie switch. “Nabokov played a great game, I don’t know why he changed. It’s a surprise (DiPietro) fell down. I changed my way. I think it’s a lucky goal.”
The Penguins appeared to open the scoring in the first period when Jordan Staal
’s shot whipped past Nabokov. However, the referees ruled “no goal” on the play due to goaltender interference by Matt Cooke
“I’ve seen the replay on it and I think it was a good call,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “Matt bumped into Nabokov. The referee identified that on the ice and called it there.”
PENGUINS FIGHT CANCER
Thursday night the Penguins did their part to contribute to the National Hockey League’s “Hockey Fights Cancer.”
The players wore purple jerseys during the morning skate and pregame warmups. Following the game the players will sign the jerseys and they’ll be auctioned off on www.nhl.com with the proceeds going to “Hockey Fights Cancer.”
“It’s incredibly important,” defenseman Ben Lovejoy
said. “The league has done a great job. A lot of people are wearing purple. We all have the ties and are raising a lot of money to fight cancer. It’s an admirable cause. I lost an aunt to cancer. It effects everyone. Everyone has someone that has battled it or was lost to cancer. It’s a scary disease. Hopefully, the NHL can do its part.”
Other initiatives from the team were purple lights on the spine of CONSOL Energy Center, giving away purple cancer awareness magnets, hosting a number of cancer patients and survivors and the coaches, broadcasters and staff wore the official “Hockey Fights Cancer” ties.
“Every player in this room and every person is touched somehow by cancer,” center Jordan Staal
said. “It’s a big thing. It’s neverending. It’s nice to be involved and help raise money.”
Author: Sam Kasan