A POINT DROPPED
By Kerry Gwydir
The Isles registered a point on the evening, but they blew a two-goal lead and settled for a 4-3 overtime loss on Friday night in Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby's overtime tally was the difference as Rick DiPietro got the start on Friday night for the ninth-straight time.
The Islanders wound up with the first powerplay of the game just a minute into the contest, but it was the hosts who drew first blood 2:20 in. Ryan Malone tallied an unassisted goal, his 18th goal of the season, with a shot from, literally, the seat of his pants. As the Pittsburgh forward deked around Denis Grebeshkov, Malone fell to the ice as he streaked in alone on DiPietro. But as he bore down on the Islander net, Malone pushed a shot along the ice that beat the Islander keeper.
Trent Hunter responded immediately on the next shift to tie the game with his 14th of the year. A feed through center ice from Shawn Bates sprung Hunter past Pittsburgh's Sergei Gonchar and allowed the Islanders' right wing a clear lane to beat Marc-Andre Fleury between the pads.
Penalties continued to be the story for the hosts minutes later as both Brooks Orpik and Rob Scuderi were shipped to the penalty box, setting up a 5-on-3 for the Isles for 1:20. Jason Blake got the first quality chance as he beat Fleury from the left hashmark, but hit the post. Then the rest was up to Fleury, who fended off six more shots during the rest of the man-up situation.
Robert Nilsson made a dazzling play to set up the Isles' second goal of the night with 47 ticks left in the period in assisting on Blake's 25th of the year. The Islander rookie faked a pass to Yashin in the slot, then drew two Penguinsto him to spot Blake alone in the slot.
Sean Bergenheim put the Isles up 3-1 just over a minute into the second with his 3rd of the season off a sharp-angled blast. Mike York took a hit behind the net from Pittsburgh's Ryan Whitney to find Bergenheim in the slot for the one-timer. Bruno Gervais notched the secondary helper.
Although the Isles controlled much of the play at this point, penalties turned things in the hosts favor. And special teams continued to work for the Penguins, who then tallied on their 1st powerplay of the game at the 9:52 mark when Andy Hilbert brought the Pens within one. Sidney Crosby made this play happen as he found Hilbert sneaking behind Chris Campoli.
Following a penalty on the next shift to Nilsson, Sergei Gonchar tied the contest with his 8th of the season midway through the second. After John Erskine's clearing attempt was picked off by Noah Welch, the Pittsburgh blueliner put the puck on net where a scramble ensued. By the time the Isles could re-gain defensive zone coverage, an unchecked Gonchar whacked a loose puck in front past DiPietro.
As the teams counterpunched through the third period, the Isles' were rewarded a powerplay with four minutes to go in regulation with Pittsburgh's Malone was sent off. But the Islander powerplay missed again for the 6th time on the evening.
(55) Jason Blake-(79) Alexei Yashin-(21) Robert Nilsson
(10) Sean Bergenheim -(16) Mike York-(81) Miroslav Satan
(15) Jeff Tambellini-(17) Shawn Bates-(7) Trent Hunter
(26) Rob Collins-(28) Wyatt Smith-(49) Eric Godard
(4) Joel Bouchard-(6) Bruno Gervais
(44) John Erskine-(3) Denis Grebeshkov
(14) Chris Campoli-(24) Radek Martinek
(39) Richard DiPietro
(30) Garth Snow
(28) Jani Rita-(87) Sid Crosby-(20) Colby Armstrong
(10) John Leclair-(12) Ryan Malone-(23) Eric Boguniecki
(43) Tomas Surovy-(9) Andy Hilbert-(7) Michel Ouellet
(36) Andre Roy-(14) Shane Endicott-(71) Konstantin Koltsov
(5) Rob Scuderi-(55) Sergei Gonchar
(19) Ryan Whitney-(44) Brooks Orpik
(2) Josef Melichar-(4) Noah Welch
(29) Marc-Andre Fleury
(31) Sebastien Caron