It was a much anticipated rematch of two teams that don't like each other. But they respect each other. Maybe.
They have to respect what they can do - win. And win they did.
While the fans may have looked for a game filled with fights, they got a game with hardly any penalties and ZERO fisticuffs. Matt Martin and Travis Hamonic threw some hits, but no one ever dropped the gloves. Maybe they should have.
There were at least four scouts in the press box tonight; probably more. There were also an abundance of media. Twice as many as last Saturday for the Ranger game. When there are that many reporters and devices in the area - there is no bandwidth. My netbook was a pointless paperweight.
The Isles out shot the Pens in the first period. With 5 minutes left the SOG were 10 - 4. The Isles had their chances but Fleury turned all of them away. Other shots were defended against by the perfect Penguins who seemed to be on their best behavior.
A-Mac played goalie for a moment as the puck just trickled behind Nabby in the paint. With Malkin on the doorstep just waiting to pounce, it was quick thinking.
But at 17:46 the Pens hit the score sheet first on a shot from Orpik to Dupuis and he went in all alone on Nabby and sent the puck past his right elbow and into the net.
There were turnovers. So many turnovers And as hard as he tried, Kyle can’t buy a goal.
Fluery was at the top of his game tonight. JT came in on his right. Denied, Moulson from in front. Denied, Parenteau had one try then skated out, turned and shot. Denied as Fluery grabbed the puck from the air and takes a seat.
The shots were 13 - 7 at the end of the first. With no Internet to keep me busy, I headed to the break room. It was PACKED.
Steve Mears looked fabulous!!! So thin and handsome! As he said, the job with the Penguins is a dream come true. He looks it. He also said he’s been playing hockey regularly and hitting the gym.
Also nice to see Mark Herrmann here from Newsday. He said they’re all pitching in covering the Isles which is interesting. Art Staple was there as well. I guess that means two articles tomorrow in the Newsday.
Richard Park scored 21 seconds into the second period on a pass from Aaron Asham. “Take that Garth Snow.” the ex-Islanders seemed to say as the second goal was posted on the jumbotron. It deflated the Isles.
Streit took the first penalty for interference, but luckily #24 took a diving penalty. Cooke to the box as well at 2:55 of the 2nd.. It was 4 on 4 hockey for two minutes.
As Brad Kurtzberg said, it seemed as if the Isles 2nd line was a half step behind the play. They’re just not clicking. Lines were shaken up a little, but try as they might, nothing went in.
Matt Martin had a few big hits that generated cheers from the crowd but no reaction from the Penguins.
With ten minutes left in the 2nd, Pittsburgh took a penalty for tripping Grabner who had a great chance on the left wing and the Isles were on the power play.
We watched as the Isles set up, Tip, tip, catch. Fluery denied the Isles again.
Power play was over and the Isles were still not on the board. Every pass was blocked ,every great move denied. Parenteau looked like he was on the ice almost every shift. I had to smile watching Isles 17 & 16 sandwich Paul Martin against the boards.
The Isles were out shooting the pens 22 - 14 with less than 3 minutes left, but they couldn’t get a shot into the net. It wasn’t a chippy game at all, but let’s be honest, the Isles left their guns on the rack.
At 16:33 of the 3rd, Reasoner was called for high sticking behind Nabby’s net and the Isles would have to kill off a four minute penalty. In the first few seconds the Isles manage to do a good job of keeping the puck out of their zone. Nabokov covered the puck with 3:13 left of the penalty to get the face off and a breather.
Pandolfo, without a stick, with almost 45 seconds to go in the penalty, his experience paid off. Mark Eaton laid down a few times to block shots from close range. Reasoner waited impatiently to be sprung from the box as the penalty expired.
With Orpik serving a penalty, the Isles had a chance at 11:30 left of the third. The 300s started to try to give them life by chanting “Let’s Go Islanders.”
Every shot was blocked. Everything. And what wasn’t blocked went straight at the Penguin on Fluery’s chest. Every shot Nabby faced went right at his knees.
I couldn’t believe Reasoner lost sight of the puck at his feet in the goal crease… say that again out loud and see how awful that sounds.
When they came around for the 3 stars of the game sheets, I could think of only one. Fluery. There was still five minutes left in the game.
The Isles got away with one when Parenteau jumped on the ice a little too soon and Nabby got a lucky break as the puck went through his goal crease without finding a Penguin’s stick.
With 3:23 left to the game, Jack pulled his goalie for the extra man. It was a good idea at the time. But at 2:00 even, Jordan Staal made it 3 - 0 Penguins. Evgeni headed back to his crease. In my head I wondered, why bother.
It’s hard to go into the locker room after a loss, but it’s worse when it’s the third straight loss. I was surprised that Mark Streit was not offered up to the media. John Tavares did most of the talking. One after another, groups of reporters and cameras surrounded him. Evgeni Nabokov sat in his stall and answered questions. He played well. Were the scouts there to see him? Or were they there for someone else?
Hamonic spoke with anyone who asked and Stan Fischler made his way around the room asking this question: “Do you feel snake bitten?”
In a way, I feel that’s premature. This is the third game they’ve lost in a row. Not the 8th. Then again, we did have some high hopes for this team this season, but I’m beginning to have a little bit of a sinking feeling. And it’s not even November 1st.