The No. 1-seeded Penguins defeated the No. 8-seeded Islanders in six games in their opening-round series with a 4-3 overtime win on Saturday at Nassau Coliseum.
The Penguins advance to play seventh-seeded Ottawa in the second round. It’s the first time since 2010 that Pittsburgh has moved past the first round.
Here are some notes and quotes from both Game 6 and the series as a whole.
VOKOUN STARS AGAIN
Brooks Orpik was the overtime hero in Saturday’s Game 6 win over the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum, scoring in the extra period to clinch the series and send the Penguins to the next round. But the true MVP was Tomas Vokoun.
Vokoun, who started his second straight playoff game, made 35 saves – several of those clutch stops with just minutes left in the third and the Penguins trailing by one goal to keep his team in the game.
The Penguins had activated their defense to join the rush and take chances in the offensive zone in an effort to try and press for the tying goal. But the risk with that is allowing odd-man rushes the other way.
And the Islanders did get a pair of 2-on-1s against Vokoun (in addition to a fantastic chance by Josh Bailey on one of the ensuing faceoffs), but he came up with big saves – keeping Pittsburgh within a goal and allowing Paul Martin to tie it just a couple minutes later.
But it wasn’t just late in the game that Vokoun had to be strong. The frantic Islanders, trying to avoid elimination, outplayed the Penguins for the vast majority of the contest, keeping them trapped in their own end and generating nerve-racking chance after nerve-racking chance. But Vokoun was a rock for the Penguins and played calm and steady in the net.
After Orpik won the game in overtime, an exhausted Vokoun – who pitched a shutout in Game 5, his first playoff game since 2004, to put the Penguins in position to clinch – reveled at the other end.
“Best feeling ever,” he said. “I was pretty tired, so just joyful for the feeling. Obviously a hard-fought game. They played well. They gave us everything we could handle. I’m just glad it’s over and we move on.”
Vokoun’s .957 save percentage in two games ranked first in the NHL, while his 1.41 goals-against average ranked second.
MALKIN LEADS TEAM
Evgeni Malkin made a pair of gorgeous plays to set up both the game-winning and tying goals on Saturday. He finished the series with points in all six games, giving him team-leading totals of nine assists and 11 points. His nine assists rank first in NHL playoff scoring while his 11 points are tied with Boston’s David Krejci for first.
Malkin’s 11 points in six games is the highest single-series total of his career. His previous high was 10 points (2G-8A) in seven games against the Washington Capitals in the 2009 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Tonight Malkin equaled his career-long six-game assist streak he had between May 9-23, 2009 (9 assists total).
And with a pair of assists tonight, Malkin has multiple points in eight of his last 11 playoff games (5G-14A-19PTS).
GETTIN’ IGGY WITH IT
Send it in, Jarome!
Jarome Iginla, who played right wing on a line with Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis for a second straight game on Saturday, scored in the first period to also give him at least one point in each of Pittsburgh’s six playoff games – equaling the longest point streak of his playoff career. Iginla also had a six-game playoff scoring streak established between April 27-May 11, 2004 (2G-4A-6PTS).
He recorded two goals and seven assists for nine points in six games, which tied Crosby for second on the team behind Malkin.
Iginla’s nine points equaled his highest single-series point total, tying his output (4G-5A) against the San Jose Sharks in the 2008 Western Conference quarterfinals.
Overall, Iginla has now collected at least one point in 13 of his last 15 games (6G-13A-19PTS) – totals that include both the regular season and playoffs.
Pascal Dupuis’ goal celebrations are so enjoyable to watch. The look of pure, unadulterated elation expressed on his face seems like it is coming from a rookie who just scored his first NHL goal, not an experienced veteran.
Fortunately for the Penguins and their fans, we were able to see that celebration from Dupuis many times in Pittsburgh’s opening-round series against the Islanders – five times in six games, in fact, with his goal in Game 6 on Saturday at Nassau Coliseum.
And unfortunately for the Islanders and their fans, it’s something they saw all season long. He lit them up in the regular season too, with five goals in six meetings. He got points in 10 of the 11 games against the Islanders (regular season and the playoffs), scoring a total of 13 (10G-3A).
Overall, Dupuis finished with a team-leading five goals and also had seven points (5G-2A) in six playoff games. He scored at least one point in all six contests. His six-game point streak is the longest of his postseason career.
Dupuis’ goal in the second period of Saturday’s Game 6 against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum was a big one, as it tied the score 2-2 in a game that had been all Islanders. The Islanders had been controlling play, keeping Pittsburgh trapped in its own end, and the Penguins had been barely weathering the storm.
After a disorganized and inefficient power play from the Penguins, Dupuis stepped up minutes later with a crucial goal to breathe life back into his team. It all began when Joe Vitale skated into the zone and barreled down a lane to the net. He threaded a centering pass that Dupuis was able to re-direct into the net.
Then shortly after Dupuis scored that tying goal, the Islanders got a pair of crucial power plays and the two-way winger jumped over the boards to help kill them both. First he helped negate a penalty to Matt Cooke, then seconds after the Penguins staved off that Islanders power play, they got a bench minor for too many men. He played a crucial role in thwarting that one, too.
The Penguins started the series very strong with a 5-0 win in Game 1. But the team faltered in Games 2-4, leading Pittsburgh's coaching staff to make adjustments for Game 5 with the series tied 2-2 – starting by replacing starter Marc-Andre Fleury with Vokoun. Joe Vitale and Tyler Kennedy played after they had been healthy scratches for the first four games (replacing Jussi Jokinen and Tanner Glass), while Simon Despres slotted in on defense. Iginla moved back to his natural right wing position with Crosby and Dupuis while Kunitz reunited with Malkin and James Neal. The changes worked exactly how they were supposed to, as they sparked Pittsburgh to a 4-0 win. And if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The lineup remained the same for Game 6. Here's exactly how it looked...