Hitting the road yet again, or rather, never having left it, the Penguins rolled into Naussau Coliseum this evening looking for their fourth consecutive win. And perhaps, looking for a little reproach for insult following last weeks 4-1 loss to the Islanders. As they say, four is better than three, and a determined Penguins squad would earn number and points twelve and thirteen with a 4-2 victory over the Isles.
The first goal of the game would come quick, with just over three minutes off the clock. It would be James Neal, earning his sixth of the season, giving the Pens an early lead (that they would maintain.) Neal would pick up a pass from Sidney Crosby and bury a wrist shot behind Evgeni Nabokov. Moments later, Crosby would come close to increasing the lead to 2 but the goal would be waved off and Toronto would rule in favour of the refs and the Islanders. Both teams would exchange power play opportunities, but neither would be able to capitalize and the score would remain 1-0 in favour of Pittsburgh heading into the second.
The Pens would start the second period down a man, the result of a late roughing call against James Neal. As they had three times prior, Pittsburgh would successfully kill off the penalty. In fact, they would kill off three more, and would be rewarded for their efforts with their second goal of the evening, this time coming courtesy of Simon Despres. With just four minutes left on the clock, Chris Kunitz would send the puck to a trailing Despres who would snap a shot low on Nabokov’s glove side, beating the net-minder and increasing the Pens’ lead by two. There would be a few scary moments in the period when Crosby would go down on the ice, having been hit in the face with a puck. The athletic trainers would escort the Pens captain off the ice and down the runway, and Crosby would return shortly thereafter, his nose and pride intact. The Penguins would head into the third on the man advantage, the result of a late call against former Penguins Brian Strait. Despite being down by two, the Isles would outshoot the Pens 24 to 14 through the first two periods of play.
The penalty to Strait would expire, but it would be no time at all before Pittsburgh earned their third of the night, this time courtesy of Brandon Sutter. Sutter’s second goal of the season came as the result of a misplay on the blue line that allowed Matt Cooke to gain puck possession before passing it off to Sutter who would send a slapper to the net. The Islanders, it appeared, would suddenly find their momentum, striking twice in thirty-five seconds , courtesy of Michael Grabner and Brad Boyes, to bring the game to within 1 with sixteen minutes left to play. The momentum would fade, however, and in an attempt to tie it up, Nabokov would be pulled, providing the perfect opportunity for Pascal Dupuis to seal the deal with an empty netter, giving the Penguins a 4 to2 victory.
With the victory tonight, the Penguins have amassed 13 points, seating them at the top of the Atlantic Division and giving them one victory over each of their division rivals. Kris Letang led all skaters with 25:19 of ice time while Paul Martin followed with 25:13. Letang, along with James Neal, notched four shots on goal while Pascal Dupuis and Evgeni Malkin each had three of their own. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced, while the Penguins sent 25 toward Evgeni Nabokov.
The Penguins will return to Pittsburgh where they will face off against the Capitals on Thursday for the second time this week. Game time is 7:00pm.