On June 4th, 2012, the Penguins traded for and then signed Tomas Vokoun. It was their first roster move since getting beaten by the Flyers in the playoffs.
And here he was, 11 months later, standing between the pipes for the biggest game of the season. In front of him was a team searching for confidence. Behind him was a fanbase eating itself in panic and anxiety. And he answered with a shutout, with the Pens now heading to the Isle on Saturday night to close this bitch out.
But Vokoun wasn't the only one that delivered a moment.

Tyler Kennedy.

Of all the players you would peg to deliver the Pens' biggest goal since Jordan Staal's game-tying goal in Game 4 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, it was Tyler Kennedy. Relegated to the press box after a shit regular season, TK got his chance Thursday night and was ready to perform.
CONSOL Energy Center was sphinctered up. But when Kennedy took a Norris pass from Kris Letang, spun it around across the blue line, went in alone, and picked the corner behind Nabokov, Pens fans could finally do something with all that built-up tension.
And then the Captain delivered. Sidney Crosby split the Islanders' D and scored what could become a signature goal for him. A goal that reminded many (GIF via @jonlin_) of the statue standing outside CONSOL. It put the Pens up 3-0, and it was all over but the cryin'.
And now the Pens go back to the Isle with a chance to exorcise demons of not only this series, but the Flyers series, the Lightning series, the Canadiens series, and, our favorite, the '93 series.


The good news was the Pens didn't get run out of the house in the first five minutes like they did both games on the Isle. More whistles in the first 4 minutes of this game than the previous two combined.

Vitale showed what he brings to the lineup when Brian Strait didn't like how fast he was going and interfered with him. That power play didn't do anything. All the star power they have, and the Pens leave the same guys out there the whole time. Just something to look at.

The big question was how Vokoun was gonna react to the show. He wasn't seeing a lot of pucks early, but that was bound to change.

Kris Letang had a bizarre pinch later, and the Isles headed back with numbers. It eventually led to a James Neal penalty after the play. Pens answered the Isles' PK with one of their own. Vokoun finally saw some decent chances on that PK. He was looking kind of shaky, but the saves were being made.

He made probably his biggest save on Kyle Okposo, who came flying through the Pens' D. Okposo has been a beast, but as far as Game 5 was concerned, this was the only time you noticed him on the ice.

Both teams were getting looks. The teams traded big hits back and forth. Matt Martin jobbed Crosby, and Murray destroyed Bailey.


Murray fell, leading to a golden chance for Colin McDonald. Big save by Koun. We don't want to do it, but we may have to skate every shift with Murray like we did with Hal Gill in 2009.

Vokoun had a couple more saves up his sleeve, stopping Grabner and then Tavares with under a minute remaining.

All in all, it was a great period for the Isles. WIth the crowd behind the Pens, they could've come out and buried the Isles quickly. The Pens were the tighter team. The Isles looked loose.


Isles came out strong in the second. Pens weathered it, and in retrospect, that was all the Isles had left, because the Pens' goals were coming.

The Pens finally went to Dupuis-Crosby-Iginla, and it almost paid off. Crosby flipped a puck up in the air, and Iginla got to it but couldn't beat Nabby.


After a chunk of touch-and-feel, Letang unleashed a pass to TK behind the defense. Nice reception of the pass, and TK walked in all alone on Nabokov.  1-0.

A minute later, it was Douglas Murray putting one in past Varlamov Nabokov. 2-0.

If there is one thing Fleury's terrible play has done, it has hidden Nabokov's. What a terrible play he made on the Murray goal.

CONSOL was going nuts.

Big play to circle came with 10:20 left in the second. Pens had been giving Tavares three kitchens to cook in, and he got another chance on Vokoun after this move on Martin.

Huge save. Beast move.

Crosby answered Tavares' dangle with one of his own. Only difference is the puck went in. Why? Because Sidney Crosby. 3-0.


Interesting subplot to the game were Nabokov's flops, neither of which were able to buy a call.


The Pens took everything away from the Isles in the third. And when they didn't, Vokoun was there to bail them out. He plays a very smart game. Very aware of all situations on the ice. Just a brilliant game from him.

Five minutes in, Paul Martin stepped into Matt Martin and trolled him into a penalty. In the nightmare games of this series, what the Isles would've done is scored a shorty on this then score another one like two minutes later.

Not in this one. On the PP, Crosby fed Letang with a saucer.


Nabby was gone again.

The goal broke the Isles' back, and it was time to start gearing up for Game 6. The Pens smelled blood, and they started leaving their positions a little bit to deliver some punishing blows. Combined with having their lunch eaten for them, the Isles began to melt down.

Pens had some power play at the end, and Bylsma decided it was time for Douglas Murray to see some time as the centerman. Briilliant.




— Everyone in double digits for the first time in a long time. Getting the lead and having Game 6 on the mind probably had something to do with the Pens rolling four lines more steadily.

— Same lineup from the net out should be getting the nod in Game 6.

— Grabner face