Pens blow another lead, lose to Isles
UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Ted Nolan was savvy enough to realize that Al Arbour was the perfect coach to emotionally crush the Penguins.
Nobody does that job better.
The Islanders rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Penguins, 3-2, at Nassau County Memorial Coliseum on Saturday. Miroslav Satan tied the score early in the third period and won the game for the Islanders late when he capitalized on a rebound from a shot by defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron.
The Penguins dropped to 6-6-1. They have lost four of five games, including the past two on this four-city road trip.
Satan's winner came at 17:19 and sent the Penguins to a second consecutive loss in which they were ahead by a score of 2-0. They dropped a similar 3-2 decision in Colorado on Thursday.
"It is tough because I thought our guys battled really hard," coach Michel Therrien said. "But there are games when you need breaks, and we do not have any right now."
Ryan Malone scored his third and rookie Tyler Kennedy his first for the Penguins, who were charged with five penalties to the Islanders' two.
"Let's put it this way: It seems the other teams are very disciplined against us," Therrien said.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 36 saves in his first start since Oct. 27, certainly did not catch a break on two of the three goals he surrendered.
He was the victim of a turnover in the defensive zone when New York's Trent Hunter cut the Penguins' lead in half, 2-1, with his third goal at 8:20 of the second period.
On Satan's winner, Fleury attempted to kick into the corner a rebound of Bergeron's shot, but the puck landed on the stick of Satan, leaving the Penguins' defense no time to react.
"I just tried to put it in the corner," Fleury said. "He was right there to pick it up."
The return of Arbour behind the bench helped pick up the Islanders.
Arbour coached his record 1,500th game with the team at the request of current coach Nolan, who played the role of dutiful assistant to the Hockey Hall of Famer last night.
Arbour is known in hockey circles for steering the Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1980-83. Pittsburghers remember him less fondly for guiding the Islanders to three of the most stunning playoff series victories in NHL history -- all against the Penguins.
With Arbor as coach, the Islanders won four consecutive games to erase a 3-0 deficit against the Penguins in a 1975 Stanley Cup playoff quarterfinal series.
Arbour was also the coach for the Islanders in their overtime victory in Game 5 of a 1982 Patrick Division semifinal, when the Penguins could not hold a 3-1 lead with six minutes remaining and lost the deciding contest on John Tonelli's second consecutive goal.
The Penguins' back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in the early 1990s helped erase the sting of those playoff failures -- until Arbour's Islanders ended their quest to win a third consecutive title in 1993.
The Penguins were coming off a franchise-best 119-point regular-season. They were heavily favored in the playoffs. But they were stretched to a deciding seventh game by the Islanders and lost in overtime on David Volek's goal.
It is safe to say that no coach has caused the Penguins more heartbreak. Lucky for the Penguins that Arbour's return was a one-night-only arrangement.