The power of Christ compels you.
The Penguins finally exorcised the demons otherwise known as the New York Islanders after 20 years. David Volek can now be forgotten. The demon has been passed to the side of the Islanders. And it comes in the form of………..Brooks Orpik? Yes. Brooks Orpik.
It was the unlikeliest of heroes to send the Pittsburgh Penguins into the second round to face the Ottawa Senators. Orpik’s shot from the left point at the 7:49 mark of the overtime period gave them the 4-3 win in overtime. It also added to their long string of winning playoff series on the road. This game took on the mantra of “a win is a win” because quite honestly, the Penguins didn’t really deserve it.
The winning goal was the only time that the Penguins led in the game. The Islanders dominated most of the way. They took advantage of being at home and having last change by getting the John Tavares line out against the Evgeni Malkin line in the first period and it got the scoring started off. Tavares was able to sneak behind Chris Kunitz after a lengthy shift in the offensive zone and fired the puck past Tomas Vokoun.
Despite how poorly the Penguins played for most of the game, they never allowed the Islanders to get any distance. The Islanders never led by more than one goal and the Penguins always found a way to answer back. Two minutes after the Tavares goal, Sidney Crosby gathered a puck at the blue line and drove to the net. He put a shot on goal that was originally stopped by Evgeni Nabokov but in an attempt to clear, Brian Strait put the puck into his own net.
There were only 37 seconds left in the first period when the Islanders reclaimed the lead and it came from the stick of former Penguin Colin McDonald. But again, the Islanders were not able to build on the lead. The next goal came from the Penguins. Midway through the second period, Joe Vitale carried the puck with speed down the boards and fed a beautiful centering pass that Pascal Dupuis chipped past Nabokov to tie the game. It was the only goal of the second period.
Expecting the third period to go scoreless would have been foolish in this series. It was a fact that the scoring wasn’t done. However, the next goal seemed to be most important. And when it happened it certainly appeared to be. The Islanders dumped the puck to Matt Niskanen who totally whiffed at it. Then Vokoun misplayed the puck. Then Kris Letang turned it over trying to get it out of the zone which allowed for Michael Grabner to get behind Niskanen and take a one time pass from Keith Aucoin and give the Islanders the lead.
Malkin was one of many Penguins who had a pretty awful game. For most of the way, Brenden Morrow was about the only guy on the roster who I thought played worse. But then….
Malkin had a strong shift which resulted with him carrying the puck behind the Islander net and feeding Paul Martin at the point which turned out to be the game tying goal.
It took until there were ten minutes left in the third period for the Penguins to finally wake up and play the way that they are supposed to. Quite frankly, they had no business winning this game. They were outshot by 17. The Islanders had more power plays. They were beat in the faceoff circle by 20%. They were outhit. The Islanders blocked more shots. Every aspect of the game except for the aspect that matters, the Islanders dominated. Tip of the cap to the Islanders. They played a fantastic series. But not fantastic enough. Bring on the Senators. Four down. Twelve to go.