Nothing much has changed since the Isles/Pens playoff series; the Islanders still match up extremely well against the Pens. Of all the home games thus far, the Islanders have looked like the best overall team the Penguins have faced.
As for the Pens, they served this to the Islanders on a silver platter. Zatkoff had a decent game, definitely better than his debut in Florida. But late-game defensive meltdowns allowed this game to slip away. Pens’ PP is now 1 for its last 20 or something, too.
On to bigger and funner things for the Pens, meaning they get to go into the belly of the beast tonight for a game agains the Maple Leafs. Fleury will be in net. Please, God, don't get hurt.
Biggest note about the first was the Islander team speed. The Pens had some trouble against it in the playoffs, and they had some trouble getting used to it again.
Pens had a few chances early. A Malkin and Jokinen sick little give-and-go resulted in a Penguins powerplay.
Malkin vs. Hamonic
Power play 1
As the Penguins powerplay ended, the Isles drew a penalty.
The Isles wasted no time at all. Matt Moulson scored. 1-0.
Power play 2
Great movement from the top unit, but nothing. As the power play ended, the second unit got a goal. Nabokov gave up a terrible rebound. Jussi knocked it home. 1-1.
Tanner Glass got hit in the face, no call.
Then he got jobbed, penalty.
Power play 3
Power play 4
But the way the Pens are, all it takes is one mistake. Some guy from the Islanders fanned on a shot, and Crosby picked it off, and went the other way on a two-on-one with Kunitz. Crosby beat Nabokov to the far post. Interestingly enough, that was Crosby's first-ever regular-season goal against Nabokov. 2-1.
The game settled down.
Crosby almost turned Matt Carkner into a tree at one point.
Pens offense went from nothing to absolute batshit crazy in a matter of seconds. They drew another penalty, and Malkin and Carkner had an emotional staredown about it.
Power play 5
The Isles closed the period with a few good chances.
To his credit, Zatkoff made some nice saves.
Late in the period, the Isles had the puck in the Pens zone, and the pairing of Maatta/Niskanen was on the ice with the second line. They had trouble clearing the zone…
Again, the Isles were playing well, then boom: Crosby breakaway. But Crosby couldn't beat Nabokov, who made a nice save flowing to his right. Professional performance by Nabokov. 66 bur–
Game was jobbing along, and then shit changed.
Franz Neilsen with a nasty deflection tied it up. 2-2.
And then Engelland happened. 3-2. Great drive by Engo. Still can’t see Engelland as a full-time band-aid on the fourth line. In previous years, Jack Capuno would have stood on the Isles bench and wept. This time, he was all business:
Everyone was feeling great…until 53 seconds later. Remember when the second line, paired with Maatta and Niskanen, couldn't get it out? Yeah…
Five minutes left, and the game settled down. Under two minutes, Crosby was running around the Isles zone. An Islander, Josh Bailey, broke his stick, and the puck rolled to Kris Letang…