Goalie Evgeni Nabokov, one of the few New York Islanders players with postseason experience, was rudely welcomed back by the Penguins on Wednesday night at Consol Energy Center.
In fact, the situation was so bad for the 37-year-old Russian that he was pulled in favor of Kevin Poulin early in the second period of the Penguins' 5-0 victory in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round series. Nabokov allowed four goals before the second period was two minutes old.
His misfortune began early in the first period during a Penguins power play when the Islanders left Jarome Iginla open for consecutive one-timers. The second was a vicious blast that struck Nabokov directly in the head.
After making the save, Nabokov fell to the ice and, a moment later, officials stopped play.
Nabokov stayed down for close to a minute while being assisted by Islanders trainers but opted to remain in the game. He allowed the Penguins' first goal two shots later.
Nabokov is a veteran of nine unsuccessful Stanley Cup playoff stints with the San Jose Sharks.
This marks the first Stanley Cup playoff game for 16 Islanders players and coach Jack Capuano. Many of them shrugged off the lack of experience, but Capuano was a little more direct. He explained that, in every hockey player's youth, big games happen in which lessons can be learned.
Veteran center Marty Reasoner is often a healthy scratch, but the Islanders started him on their fourth line. Capuano acknowledged before the game that having a veteran presence was crucial.
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