The entire arena goes black. The music begins to play.
Down from the rafters comes Tomas Vokoun to goaltend in the nude with his hands tied behind his back with the intent to stop every puck with his teeth.
At least that’s what it sounded like judging by the buzz in social media about Vokoun getting the start. It actually had all the makings of a really big letdown. It was anything but. Vokoun stopped 31 shots to get the shutout in what was his first playoff start in six years.
Tyler Kennedy (pictured above) is another player who was getting his first start of the playoffs. The acquisitions at the trade deadline, the emergence of Beau Bennett, and relative uselessness of Kennedy throughout the season contributed to him sitting for four games. He got his chance tonight and he made it count. His goal was the one that got it started for the Penguins. It came in the second period off of a long stretch pass from Kris Letang.
The goal had Evgeni Nabokov rattled. The second goal that the Penguins scored proved it. Douglas Murray scored his second goal of the series and it was a goal that even Marc-Andre Fleury would have shook his head at. Murray came into the playoffs having just two playoff goals in his career.
Sidney Crosby added a goal to cap off the three goal second period for the Pens. He also had an assist on a beautiful backhand pass to Letang to set up the Pens’ fourth goal in the third period that was enough to chase Nabokov from the game. Anyone who has seen the statue outside of Consol Energy Center could draw some similarities from his goal.
Dan Bylsma takes his fair share of criticism. Especially in the playoffs. And I would agree that most of it is deserved. He pushed all the right buttons in this game. He realized Tomas Vokoun was brought in so the Penguins had a reliable goaltender when Fleury struggled. He used him. He also noticed that his team was getting hurt by the speed of the Islanders so he inserted Kennedy, Simon Despres, and Joe Vitale into the lineup.
The Penguins have absolutely dominated two games of this series. Even with that being the case, the series is still tight and game six on Long Island is not going to be a picnic. But it’s a game that they must win. They must finish. Because we all know what happened last time.