Islanders look to turn tables in Game 6
The New York Islanders' locker room was as quiet as a church's confessional after Game 5 at Consol Energy Center. Players knew what they did wrong and weren't afraid to admit their sins.
That attitude — and a bit more aggressive play — could help when the Islanders meet the Penguins in Game 6 on Saturday at Nassau Coliseum. One loss will eliminate the Isles from the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
“We weren't at our best,” said Hart Trophy nominee John Tavares, who recorded his third negative plus/minus (minus-1) of the series.
“We will come back with our best on Saturday,” former Penguins defenseman Brian Strait said. “One hundred percent. We have a resilient squad, and we have done it all season.”
The Islanders' ability to recover from losses — they haven't suffered a more significant setback this season than the 4-0 Penguins victory Thursday — was apparent while they won 12 of 14 games late in the season immediately following a subpar 5-8 stretch.
The problem in Game 5 that must be corrected was their failure to consistently cut off passing and skating lanes for the Penguins, who looked faster than at any time in the series.
“We never really got to our forecheck and pinned them in their zone,” Strait said. “We didn't make them work to get out of their zone.”
On the other end, Penguins goaltender Tomas Vokoun — bolstered by his diligent defensemen who kept the area in front of the net clean — turned away 31 shots. The shutout was the Penguins' second in the series, the first time that has happened in franchise history.
The Islanders are home for what could be one of the last playoff games at Nassau Coliseum. The team that won four consecutive titles from 1980-83 is set to move to Brooklyn no later than 2015.
But the Islanders need more than fan support. They are the only playoff team with a losing record at home (10-11-3) and one of only two that has allowed more goals at home than they have scored (73-67). For the series, the Penguins have outscored the Islanders, 21-14.
“They got zone time, they protected the puck, they won the territorial battle,” coach Jack Capuano said of the Penguins. “They played similar to a style that we have to play to be successful. They played harder than us. The better team won.”