Islanders' speed decisive in victory over Penguins
UNIONDALE, N.Y.—Speed kills.
Just ask the Penguins.
One of the reasons that the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series is tied at two games apiece is the Penguins' inability to neutralize the Islanders' speed, which was key in New York's 6-4 Game 4 win Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum.
“We have to play with a good pace,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.
This is exactly what the Islanders have accomplished for the 188:44 of game action spanning Games 2-4.
The Islanders have been able to routinely skate through the neutral zone to start their forecheck in the three games, which has clearly bothered the Penguins. It boiled over with a post-game fracas in which the 10 skaters on the ice wrestled and grabbed at each other.
“You have to ask them,” Travis Hamonic said when asked if he thought the Islanders' speed and physicality had irritated the Eastern Conference's top seed.
New York outhit the Pens, 33-26, last night. Many of the hits occurred behind the net, allowing the Islanders to cycle the puck and maintain offensive zone possession. That was highlighted by Kyle Okposo's second goal of the series, which tied the game at 3-3.
Casey Cizikas was able to corral a loose puck behind the net and found Kyle Okposo, who backhanded a shot that bounced off Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
“I'm just trying to work my hardest out there,” said Cizikas, whose goal with 1:16 left in regulation ended the scoring. “I'm going to do whatever it takes to outwork the opposition.”
New York's speed forced the Penguins to commit 12 turnovers, none more blatant than the offensive zone giveaway that led to John Tavares's goal.
Brad Boyes forced Malkin to turn the puck over in the offensive zone by cutting off his angle. Boyes corralled the loose puck and carried the puck along the boards before backhanding a pass to Tavares in the slot for his second goal of the series.
“Our forwards are cutting back and cycling the puck, it causes a lot of problems for them,” Mark Streit said. “Our forwards are doing an outstanding job. They have so much speed and they work really, really hard. They're forechecking hard, they're physical.”
Denis Gorman is a freelance writer.