Islanders even series the hard way
The New York Islanders didn't do it the easy way.
Rather, left wing Matt Moulson said the Islanders did it the “dirty” way.
The Penguins keep giving th Islanders opportunities. Who knows where this series might end up if the Islanders ever start taking advantage?
As it is, the Islanders are going home with the series tied at 1-1 after a 4-3 victory Friday night at Consol Energy Center. The series resumes Sunday in Long Island.
“I don't think any of them were too pretty,” said Moulson, the only Islanders player to score a power-play goal in the series' first two games. “We'll take them. They don't ask how.”
The difference Friday, compared to a 5-0 Penguins victory Wednesday, was the Islanders mostly throwing pucks toward the net — 42 in all — and seeing what happens.
Moulson said his goal in the first period was a good example.
“I got a lucky bounce off (defenseman Doug) Murray's stick,” he said. “That's a dirty goal, a greasy goal.”
Islanders coach Jack Capuano liked his team's forechecking and ability to beat the Penguins to loose pucks. He didn't necessarily see it as dirty.
“I thought for the most part we did a lot of good things from a structural standpoint,” he said.
The Islanders, the No. 8 seed, have scored only one goal in eight power-play chances in this series, a bit of a surprise with the Penguins struggling when the opponent has the man-advantage most of the season. Before the playoffs, the Penguins were 25th in the 30-team NHL after allowing 34 goals on 167 shots (a 79.6 percent success rate) when the other team was on the power play.
The Islanders were sixth in power-play goal percentage (19.9) in the conference in the regular season.
The problems on the power play didn't matter Friday. They didn't have any power plays in the final period when the game was decided. The Islanders scored three times at even strength after the Penguins built a 3-1 lead after the first period.
The winner came with 7:37 left in the game on a shot by Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo that went behind the net, hit the back of Marc-Andre Fleury's pads and trickled into the net.
The one time the Islanders did score with the manpower edge, the Penguins responded 18 seconds later with Sidney Crosby's second goal of the game. That gave the Penguins a 3-1 lead after the first period, but the Islanders managed to tie the score at 3-3 going into the third period on even-strength goals by Colin McDonald and Matt Martin.
The Penguins were able to neutralize the Islanders' power play thanks to defenseman Kris Letang jumping John Tavares at most opportunties.
Murray also made a key play while killing a power play in the second period. Murray slammed his 6-foot-3, 245-pound body to the ice to block a shot by right wing Brad Boyes. On one knee, Murray cleared the puck out of danger.
In the end, the Islanders were better on even terms with the Penguins, and that was the difference.
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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