Last night I wondered out loud whether the [dominating] win over Montreal was just an aberration of the last couple weeks or if they were really coming out of their funk. I said that if they could come out and put up a performance like they did last night it would go a little ways in telling us that. I am not totally sure what happened tonight though. The Penguins dominated for long stretches of the game but much of the third period was a one goal game.
The Islanders got out to a 2-0 lead at the 8:21 mark and the Penguins looked like a tired team that was pretty lost. There didn't seem to be much of any urgency but goals by Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby pulled things even at the intermission and I would probably consider that a win considering how badly the Penguins were for the first eight minutes or so.
What I think I am still getting used to is the Islanders being a pretty good, and fun, hockey team to watch. Their top line of Kyle Okposo, John Tavares, Thomas Vanek are about as fun of a line to watch in hockey. Oh yea, they are pretty good too. Guys like Michael Grabner give them depth and despite being pretty shaky in goal they can play hockey, just like the Penguins found out in last years playoffs.
Maybe the game defining moment was a late 5-on-3 power play the Islanders got with about six minutes to go. It wasn't a full 5-on-3 as Kris Letang took a penalty then Tanner Glass took another penalty with 50 seconds left on the Letang minor. The Penguins PK, which was a perfect 3-for-3, needed to step up and step up they did. Jeff Zatkoff made an unreal save where Frans Nielsen had a sure goal but Zatkoff went post-to-post to make the left pad save. Zatkoff wasn't overly good tonight but he was good when he needed to be.
Crosby has been mildly quiet over the last few games but tonight he was really good. A goal and two more assists and his line which included Kunitz and whomever else wanted to play were having their way with whatever line that the Islanders wanted to have on the ice. He's the best player in the world and you have to think he was pumped about played against a player with Tavares' skill set and he came out and showed why he is still the class of the NHL.
But man oh man, how good is Olli Maatta. Defensively he has been a lot better than I expected and tonight he scored a highlight reel goal. I mean just look at this:
This kid is only 19 years old. NINETEEN!!!!
As I said above the Islanders are good. They had a really brutal start to the year but they are a team I wouldn't want to play in the playoffs. They have this thing about getting behind and coming back. They got the game to 4-3 and then Evgeni Malkin took a sick feed from James Neal to make it 5-3 with about 14 minutes left but the Islanders just kept plugging away and damn near tied the game up on numerous occasions. I am sure the Penguins don't care how they get wins and are glad they are just out of New York with a win.