Recap: Game 32 – Penguins vs. Islanders

James Neal celebrates Brandon Sutter's third period goal. (Courtesy of Getty Images.)

And the streak lives on. After having rested up for two days, the Penguins were back in action. This time, they headed back to New York to take on the Islanders for the fourth time this season. While the Pens were looking to keep their streak alive (which they did) the Isles were looking to snap a two-game losing skid (which they did not) despite taking the lead early in the game.

As is to be expected, the gloves were dropped early on in the first when Craig Adams and Matt Martin went toe-to-toe. Adams dropped fairly easily, and the Isles seems to draw from the momentum, owning a good portion of the first period and outplaying the Pens. As such, they would take a 1 to 0 lead courtesy of a one-timer by Mark Streit that net-minder Tomas Vokoun just couldn’t make the save on. Pittsburgh would end the first period on a power play when New York’s Martin was called for a hold. The couldn’t capitalize in the first fifty-five seconds, carrying it over into the second frame.

The Islanders had no problems killing off the remaining minute of Martin’s penalty heading into the middle frame and they would continue to test Vokoun who was required to make some big saves. With eight minutes off the clock, Joe Vitale notched the Penguins first of the night, tying the game up. Craig Adams would work the puck at the blue line, allowing Vitale to earn a 2-on-1 opportunity. All Vitale had to do was roof a shot over Evgeni Nabokov’s shoulder, and Pittsburgh was back in the game. After a scramble in front of Vokoun’s net that saw the net-minder make every save imaginable, New York’s Josh Baily returned the lead to the Islanders. However, with just fourteen seconds off the clock, number 14 in black and gold – Chris Kunitz – earned his nineteenth of the season to tie the game back up again. Through two periods of play, the Islanders led in shots 28 to 17.

Less than two minutes into the third, the Penguins would take the lead courtesy of a goal from Brandon Sutter. Earning a two-on-one opportunity with Matt Cooke who was able to push the puck past a sprawling Isles’ d-man, Sutter was able to corral it before snapping it past Nabokov. With seven minutes left in regulation, the Islanders earned their first power play of the game when Pascal Dupuis was called for hooking. However, with twenty seconds left, former Penguin-turned Islander-turned Penguin again Mark Eaton drew an interference call on Josh Bailey, allowing for a tiny bit of four-on-four skating. Neither team could capitalize, but before the period was over, New York would earn the man advantage again when Brooks Orpik was called for a hook on Tavares. They would use their time out before the power play expired, but Pittsburgh was determined not to let them bank in on the opportunity.  New York pulled Nabokov in favour of the extra attacker, but that resulted in an empty net goal for Pascal Dupuis. Therefore, the Penguins would march on to victory number eleven in a row with a 4-2 win over the Islanders.

With Kris Letang still sidelined as the result of a lower body injury, Paul Martin continues to lead the team in ice time, earning 25:40. Matt Niskanen followed with 23:17. Niskanen had four shots on goal while Pascal Dupuis followed with three. Vokoun stopped 33 of the 35 shots he faced, while Pittsburgh sent 22 toward Nabokov. Sidney Crosby and Pascal Dupuis both had two point nights, continuing their respective point streaks. With the win, the Penguins continue to sit atop the Eastern Conference as well as the Atlantic Divisioin.

Pittsburgh continues to be without Evgeni Malkin (upper body injury) and Kris Letang (lower body injury) both of whom made the trip with the team and skated on their own. Tyler Kennedy was scratched last minute do to an illness.

The Penguins will return to Pittsburgh where they will “welcome” back the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Game time is 7:30pm.