When head coach Dan Bylsma was asked in April what his favorite memory at Mellon Arena is, he told reporters that it was walking off the ice following his first-ever head coaching victory on Feb. 19, 2009 and hearing Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Lange announce, “And ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left the building.”
During Bylsma’s year and a half behind the bench at Mellon Arena, he made the 90-foot walk from the Penguins bench to the locker room 47 times with Lange’s famous saying playing in the background.
On Friday night, Bylsma made the walk for the first time at CONSOL Energy Center as Elvis finally left the building after the Penguins registered a 3-2 overtime victory over the New York Islanders on Alex Goligoski’s power-play tally to pick up the team’s first-ever win in its beautiful new building.
“The (game entertainment staff) tries to play that for me after every win, but I didn’t get to hear it tonight,” Bylsma said. “With the two loud horns going off, I didn’t hear it.
“However, it was good to see the puck go into the net and have the power play come up big right there. I know the guys are pretty happy about the win heading into playing Philadelphia (on Saturday).”
All week the Penguins talked about how they didn’t feel any added pressure to pick up their first home victory, but once they finally performed the trick, they couldn’t help but talk about how good it felt to finally remove the monkey from their backs.
“We won’t have to answer questions about it anymore,” Goligoski said. “It’s good to get the first one for sure – especially for the fans.”
Goligoski picked up the game-winner – his team-leading third tally of the season – 1:51 into the extra session when he converted an Evgeni Malkin
rebound into the top of the cage over a prone Rick DiPietro from just inside the far circle.
“It was just another rolling puck (that came to me),” Goligoski said. “I have seen a lot of those. I was just trying to get it high and into the net. It went in.”
Also leading the way for the Penguins on Friday night were a pair of rookies, Eric Tangradi
and Mark Letestu.
Tangradi staked the Penguins to a 2-0 lead when he notched his first National Hockey League goal on a turnaround shot from the far circle off the skate of an Islander defender standing just outside of the crease 6:57 into the second period.
“I looked at the net and there was traffic,” Tangradi said. “I didn’t really know what to expect. You throw pucks at the net hoping they are going to go in, and it did. It wasn’t the prettiest first goal, but it counts.”
Letestu, who has been one of the Penguins’ most consistent sources of offense throughout the first five games, picked up two assists – his helper on Mike Rupp’s opening goal was Letestu’s first regular-season assist of his career – to post the his first two-point effort in the NHL.
“Anytime you get some secondary scoring it’s important,” Tangradi said. “I think it is kind of neat that my first goal came off of assists from Mark and (Deryk) Engelland, who all played together in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last year. It’s been a neat experience for us thus far.”