STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
Game Three Final
Pittsburgh Leads Series 2-1
NEW YORK ISLANDERS - Three Penguins Power Play Goals Obliterate Long Island From Game Three.
WANTED: More Cartwheels and Handstands from Evgeni Nabokov
With the series tied, and in between a bevy of tripping, hooking, roughing and slashing infractions throughout Game Three, the Islanders and Penguins seemed content on trading hay-makers. The lone question who was going to land the biggest shot of the game, and when.
The Isles opened the scoring with an early goal by Matt Moulson just 1:43 into the game. Four minutes later, the ol' Barn shook when Casey Cizikas netted Long Island's second goal, off a feed from Grabner. Uniondale was rocking loudly, but not for long. Pittsburgh scored three unanswered goals against Evgeni Nabokov before the period expired. Two costly Islanders penalties thirty seconds apart, inevitably resulted in two Penguins power play goals by Jarome Iginla and Chris Kunitz, just twenty seconds apart. By 13:38, the game was tied at two. Then with exactly one minute left in the first period, Pascal Dupuis put the Pens ahead with his third goal of the playoffs. The Long Island crowd spent the first intermission silently.
Douglas Murray scored in the second period to extend Pittsburgh's lead. The Long Island crowd again spent the second intermission silently. However, the Isles have shown a lot of fortitude in this series, and continued their efforts in the third. Kyle Okposo scored at 5:31, followed by John Tavares' first goal of the playoffs at 10:48 to tie the game at four. With the ol' Barn rocking again, into overtime they went.
In the extra session, yet another penalty doomed the Islanders. At 8:11, you guessed it, Brian Strait got whistled for holding Sidney Crosby of all people. Then a 8:44, Chris Kunitz sized up a Crosby feed, and scored his second goal, and the game winner.
Although the first playoff game after a considerable time on Long Island was a loss, the game was not a lost affair. The Islanders have proven they want to play with the #1 seeded Penguins. The offense has been there for Long Island. It's discipline that is currently lacking. They just need to stay out of the penalty box. Surrendering three power play goals was their downfall. If Long Island keeps things at even strength, and they themselves score like the NHL's 11th ranked PP can, the series will go deep. Plus, John Tavares may have finally popped his cherry. Perhaps better games loom ahead for him now that his first goal is out of the way. Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo now have multiple goals as well. The Islanders out-shot the Pens 36-25 over the course of the game. They especially outperformed Pittsburgh 13-3 in the third period. In overtime however, the Isles only got off two shots versus six for the Pens. Other than that minor detail, there are reasons for optimism. The Islanders are now pressed however, to recover and win Game Four before heading back to Pittsburgh for Game Five.
With seemingly enough scoring in place, Evgeni Nabokov holds the keys to the Islanders near future against Pittsburgh. He stopped twenty of twenty-five shots Sunday, thirty of thirty-three in Game Two, and got blown out in the series opener. Nabokov can be better, and has been batter this season. The Islanders can greatly benefit if he can provide a few more hand-stands and cartwheels than he has so far.