A lot of things happened on Saturday.
We got news of Paul Martin being out for 6 weeks.
Jarome Iginla announced he would play.
Sidney Crosby's teeth got destroyed by a slapshot and went to the hospital.
Chris Kunitz got kicked out and will be facing a suspension.
But of all those things, the top moment was Matt Cooke scoring the game-winning goal early in the third period after playing a huge part in killing off the 5-on-3 and Kunitz' 5-minute major. One of Matt Cooke's finest moments. But he wasn't the only hero.
Tomas Vokoun turned in another top-notch performance and is now riding a personal shutout streak of 162:42. We heard a stat somewhere that he's the first goalie in franchise history to record back-to-back shutouts. Overall, the Pens haven't given up a goal in 208:24. The last goal they gave up was the Giroux goal that came back to him off of Tanner Glass' stick. Wow.
Speaking of streaks, this win pushes the Pens to 15 straight wins. They've become the first team in NHL history to run the table in a calendar month. They are now 2 wins away from tying the all-time record. They will eventually lose; there's no question about it. But the habits formed during this streak won't be going away anytime soon.
There was an unreal buzz in the arena. The ovation for Iginla during the starting-lineup announcements almost blew the roof off the building.
The puck dropped, and it took all of 90 seconds for all that emotion to vanish in an instant:
There's no way the CBC had a radar gun at the game. Our only assumption is that someone really went the extra mile to break down how far and how quickly the puck traveled from Orpik's stick to Crosby's face.
The play sucked the life out of everyone, including the Pens.
It took a few minutes for them to get their bearings.
The Isles were outshooting the Pens 7-0 at one point.
Iginla-Malkin-Neal out of sync. They were offside like 300 times in row.
The D without Martin/Letang didn't look horrible, but you could feel the absence.
Pens snapped out of the little funk with some solid shifts.
Byslma was juggling lines like a champ.
Engelland went to the box late.
Dupuis took the initiative to kill the penalty almost all by himself, and the Pens got some momentum from it. Engo had a chance out to box, and the Pens kept rolling until Malkin drew a penalty.
It was the Pens' first power play in a long time. Without Martin and Crosby, something was gonna look off. As it turned out, that "something" was Dupuis at the point for the faceoff. Pens had a good look, but Kunitz airmailed it then took a penalty.
Pens were rolling all kinds of lines.
Iginla-Sutter-Neal saw some time and generated some of the best chances for Iginla up to that point.
It was turning into a great showdown between Vokoun and Nabby.
Pens got a 2-on-1, and Tanner Glass fed a nice pass to Cooke, who got hooked up, and the Pens got a PP. Too bad the power play sucked. Phil Bourque pointed out on the radio side that there was an Arena Football game Friday night at CONSOL, so the ice was piss.
Then stuff got a little wild. Kunitz and Dupuis were on a harmless 2-on-2 rush. Kunitz got a shot on net, and the rebound deflected off of Nabokov and went to the corner. Kunitz collided with Josh Bailey as he went to get the puck. Bailey was off balance and smashed headfirst into the boards.
Kunitz got 5 and a game.
Bailey initiated the contact, but what hurt Kunitz was the little shoving motion. If Crosby is in Kunitz's position, he lays low, stick-lifts Bailey, and takes the puck behind the net. Regardless, Kunitz is a repeat offender and may be seeing a spin from the Wheel of Justice.
Two-thirds of the best line in hockey were out for the game, and now the Pens had to kill off a 5-minute major. Everyone who saw time on the unit made some plays, but Matt Cooke overshadowed everyone. He was going after pucks like a dog on a bone. The Isles couldn't do shit.
Then Brooks orpik compounded his tough day by taking a bad penalty, so the Pens were basically staring down the barrel of 2 minutes of a 5-on-3 kill. Matt Cooke blocked some huge shot, and the Pens got out of the period.
It was all about killing off the rest of the penalty. If the Isles scored right off the bat, Pens were dead in the water. Cooke-Adams-Eaton were given the keys, and they all put their bodies on the line. KILLED.
The MIN line had a 3-on-1, but Malkin and Neal couldn't connect. But the most important thing is that it took that line all of two periods to settle in and start reading each other. The line is going to be downright terrifying.
A goal was coming; you could feel it.
But it looked like it was the Islanders who were gonna break the ice. The puck was pushed to the points, and Niskanen and Despres played some catch. No big deal.
What a mistake, especially with Grabner of all people lurking. But Vokoun stared down that son of a bitch and made the key save.
The save became even bigger because the very next trip down the ice, after an Isles icing, Matt Cooke rips one past Nabby. 1-0.
Cooke trolls Matt Martin when lining up for the faceoff after the goal then destroys Martin on some check.
The MIN line started making some more moves. Malkin turned off the lights in Matt Moulson's mind. The Isles broadcast team was really butthurt about it.
More jobbing around, and then Neal gets some space with Niskanen racing in backdoor. Neal elects to go for the snapshot. 2-0.
First goal for Neal in like 10 games.
Pens went into cruise control and buckled down. Some people have called Douglas Murray useless,
but he turned in another complete game today. If you weren't happy to see him on the ice for the Kunitz 5-minute kill, you better just get used to it. At one point, the Isles didn't even want to go into Murray's corner.
The Isles were still getting chances, but Vokoun was seeing everything. Time ticked away.
– Tanner Glass had an underrated good game.
– Iginla looked really good after the first. Playing with Malkin and Neal, there is no telling what that line could do.
– Pens still haven't lost with Eaton in the lineup.
– Huge minutes from Douglas Murray. Eaton, too.
– Are the Pens gonna have to make a move for a D-man with Martin out?
– Happy Easter.