Penguins 13-4-2 28 points
Islanders 14-6-0 28 points
New York Islanders: Saturday Night Fever In Uniondale!
Last Saturday in Tampa, the Islanders suffered a 5-2 defeat in the front end of a home-and-home series against the Lightning. On Tuesday, the Long Islanders exacted their revenge upon the Bolts with a 5-2 victory on home ice.
On Friday, the Islanders opened a home-and-home against the Metropolitan Division leading Penguins in Pittsburgh. The last time the Isles visited Pittsburgh on October 18th, they lost by a 3-1 margin. This time they outlasted the Pens in a 5-4 shootout.
The Islanders reengaged the Penguins Saturday evening in Uniondale. After Ivgeni Malkin opened the scoring with a 1st period goal, Matt Martin tied the game in the 2nd period. The Isles then dominated the Pens during a 3-goal 3rd period to gain a 4-1 final, and a series sweep.
The Islanders essentially arrested Sidney Crosby, who managed just one SOG, and lost 60% of his face-offs.
The Isles out-shot Pittsburgh by a 71-58 margin over the two games.
Brock Nelson continues to reward Garth Snow, this time with his 10th goal of the season. Matt Martin's only 2 goals this season came during this series. John Tavares closed-out Saturday's scoring with his 8th of the season.
With 1 goal in 2 opportunities, the Islanders power play is now operating at 20.2% efficiency, and has scored in 11 of their 20 games this season.
The Long Islanders won playing physical hockey as well. Travis Hamonic mixed it up early with Steve Downie, whom continued to goon it up throughout the game, specifically with a dirty hit on Hickey. And as the 3rd period wound down, Hamonic let Pitt's Zack Sill know he wasn't putting up with any last minute crap either.
In his last two starts, goalie Jaroslav Halak has posted victories over the Penguins and Lightning. In gaining his 9th win of the season Saturday night, he made a short-handed save, two saves on the PK, and stopped 24/25 even strength shots. He has now won 6 straight, and started 7 of the Islanders 10 games this month.
In Friday's game, back-up Chad Johnson made his 7th start of the season and earned the shoot-out victory in Pittsburgh.
This latest victory gives the Islanders 8 in their last 9 games, and more importantly, earned them a share of 1st place in the Metropolitan Division along with these same Pittsburgh Penguins (whom have a game in hand).
Lastly, the TV guys said this is the New York Islanders best start to a season since the 1987-1988 campaign.
In 20 games this season, they only have losses against Toronto and Winnipeg to atone for. Otherwise, the Islanders have racked up impressive victories over the Rangers, Sharks, Bruins, Ducks, Kings, Lightning, and now a pair against the Penguins.
The Islanders have also seemingly straightened out their penalty kill. In October they killed-off 22 of 33 power plays, for a poor 66.6% rate of effectiveness. In November, they have so far killed-off 23 of 28 power plays, for a vastly improved 82.1% rate.
That said, the Islanders are starting to get things done in all aspects of the game.