Penguins Eliminate Islanders; Last Nassau Playoff?
John Tavares (right photo) scored the first goal as the Islanders dominated almost the entire game to outshoot the Penguins 35-19 in regulation and come within six minutes of making the Islanders 16-4 when facing elimination in the Nassau Coliseum. However, Sidney Crosby (left photo) teamed up with Pascal Dupuis to lead a 4-3 win in overtime in what could be the last playoff game in the history of the Coliseum that saw four Stanley Cup Champions.
Tavares and Crosby are two of the three finalist for the Hart Trophy (MVP), along with the Capitals Alex Ovechkin.
The Islanders have two more years in Nassau before moving to Brooklyn, but after failing to make the playoffs for several years and sneaking in as the eighth place team this year, there is no guarantee there will be another playoff game played in Nassau.
The Islanders seemed well on their way to forcing both teams to travel back to Pittsburgh for a Game 7 Sunday. The Islanders had history, fore checking and a lot of shots to dominate all but a couple of stretches late in the second and third period, but Islander-killers Pascal Dupuis and Sidney Crosby countered to set up and score a goal, and Paul Martin scored with just over five minutes left to send the game into overtime.
The Islanders physically pushed the Penguins around, except for Crosby who outmuscled them throughout the series. Just two minutes after Tavares gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead, Crosby easily held off a defender to crash the goal and force the keeper Evgeni Nabokov to the ice, resulting in an easy rebound goal for Jarome Iginla.
However, from that point on it was the Islanders who dominated physically.
Michael Grabnerused a great check behind the net to take the puck away from a Penguins player, and dumped the puck back to Keith Aucoin to his left of the net, who slid the puck across to Colin McDonald for an easy goal behind Eric Hartzell for the easy goal to make it 2-1 Islanders 19:23 into the first period.
While Hartzell did not get that one, he was in perfect position throughout the night and made his case with only three goals allowed in two games-plus to stay in nets ahead of starter Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Islanders continued to dominate for half of the second period, but despite three second period power plays could not score. Finally the one Penguin who seemed faster than the Islanders, Dupuis, cut past the goal and tipped in his fifth goal of the playoff series after scoring five against the Islanders during the regular season.
The Islanders came out in the third period appearing set on making it 16-4 all-time in home elimination games, and Aucoin set up another goal – this time to Grabner whose fore check had set up the first goal, to make it 3-2 just 2:21 into the third period.
The Penguins continued to get pushed around, but finally simply settled for long slap shot since the could not penetrate, and it worked.
Paul Martin blasted a long slapshot that caught a piece of the stick of an Islander’s stick to deflect over the keeper Nabokov and tie the score with just 5:16 left in regulation.
After the Islanders had another flurry of near scores in overtime, Brooks Orpik blasted away with a long shot that glanced in off the goalies right post to give the Penguins the 4-3 overtime win.