Islanders overwhelmed in Game 1 loss to surging Penguins at Consol
Nothing worked Wednesday night for the New York Islanders in the first game of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series against the Penguins.
Not 26 shots on goal, none of which had any effect on the final score — a 5-0 Penguins victory at Consol Energy Center.
Not even a shoulder directed less than lovingly at Penguins defenseman Douglas Murray by Islanders left winger Matt Martin in the first period.
At that point, the Islanders were making a game of it — or, at least, trying to do so while trailing in the first period.
When the margin became lopsided less than two minutes into the second period on goals 32 seconds apart by the Penguins' Kris Letang and Pascal Dupuis, all that was left was for Martin to turn into a pest, making continual runs at as many Penguins players as he could find.
Martin said his style of play didn't change with the score.
“I always try to play the same, physical, mix it up,” he said. “As a team, we should have been trying to do that a little more. Our game plan was to be physical from the start and for whatever reason we didn't do a good job of that.
“For most of the game, we made it easy on them and if you do that they can run up the score. They have way too much talent.”
Late in the game, center Marty Reasoner threw a hip into the Penguins' Jussi Jokinen, triggering a brief scrum among several antagonists.
None of it mattered, as far as the Islanders were concerned. The Penguins thoroughly frustrated the No. 8 seed Islanders, who were making their first playoff appearance since 2007.
Said coach Jack Capuano: “I thought we didn't have the work ethic and our execution was poor.”
Capuano was so concerned about his team's lack of physicality that he pulled goaltender Evgeni Nabokov early in the second period after the Penguins had seized a 4-0 lead. Capuano said Nabokov was unhurt after a Jarome Iginla one-timer struck him in the forehead, sending him to the ice.
“I wasn't going to leave him in there and hang him out to dry,” Capuano said.
Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen expects a better effort from the Islanders in Game 2 on Friday.
“They're not just going to go away, just because we got an early lead,” he said. “They're not going to quit, so they're obviously trying to get things turned around, a little momentum, hopefully, from that. We've just got to stand our ground and not let it affect us.”
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
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