The Pittsburgh Penguins won four of five from the New York Islanders in the regular season by a combined score of 16-5. However, even after a definitve 5-0 win over the Islanders in Game 1 of the NHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the Penguins found themselves locked in a battle with New York in Game 2.
Despite the return of Sidney Crosby to action on Friday night, The Islanders outhustled the Black and Gold as they threw more people and more pucks at the net, which resulted in a 4-3 victory at Consol Energy Center. The series is now tied 1-1 and going back to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island for Game 3 at noon Sunday.
In the first period, with just 43 seconds elapsed off the clock, Evgeni Malkin scored off the feed from right wing Jarome Iginla to get the Penguins on the scoreboard. A little over two minutes later, it was Crosby’s turn to bring the fans out of their seats as he took the pass from Iginla on the left side of the net for a tap in goal from close range.
With 12:56 left on the clock, left wing Matt Moulson got New York on the scoresheet with a power-play goal. However, 19 seconds later, Crosby got the two-goal lead back for the Pens when he scored his second of the night on Isles’ goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. The Islanders would finish the first frame with 20 shots on goal, while the Penguins had only 12.
The Islanders continued their assault in the second period as right wing Colin McDonald got the puck past goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with 14:48 on the clock. New York tied the game up at 9:23 in the middle frame, when center Josh Bailey fired a shot from center, and the puck came off the boards to the front of the goal. Left wing Matt Martin slapped at the rebound to get the puck in the net. The Islanders end the second with 14 shots and 34 for the game, while the Pens had 25 at that point.
It was another wild bounce in the third frame that sealed the deal for the Islanders. Right wing Kyle Okposo got the the game winner at 12:25 of the third period, when his shot bounced off the end boards and banked into the net off the back of Fleury. The Penguins were unable to find their offense from there, and New York held on to tie the series.
Clippings from the Clipboard: Left wing James Neal and defenseman Brooks Orpik were both held out of Game 2 due to undisclosed injuries…Crosby had two goals, garnering two points in 23:21 minutes of playing time in his first game in more than a month after sustaining a broken jaw…Defenseman Kris Letang led all skaters with 29:04 of ice time…Fleury ended the game stopping 38 of 42 shots between the pipes, while Nabokov turned away 30 of 33.