The New York Islanders fell behind by three goals early and were never able to recover, falling 6-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Islanders, playing for the second consecutive day, got into penalty trouble early and allowed five-point efforts to Sidney Crosby (five assists) and Chris Kunitz (three goals, two assists). The regulation loss ends the Islanders five-game points streak (3-0-2) and two-game road winning streak.
“Our discipline wasn’t really good,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said after the game. “They’ve got the fourth-best power play in the league and you can’t get behind two or three goals to this team. Right off the bat, the undisciplined penalties we took killed us. We went to the box three straight times and they capitalized on it.
Pascal Dupuis scored his first of the night on a one-timer from Chris Kunitz along the goal line to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 edge at 7:10 of the first period. Evgeni Nabokov wasn't expecting the shot from the hard angle, and it glanced off the inside of his pads and in. Crosby earned the secondary assist on the goal.
The Penguins power play spent almost 90 seconds on a 5-on-3 power play later in the period, and capitalized by doubling their lead. Kunitz got in front of Nabokov and converted a pass from James Neal at 13:46. Three minutes later, Kunitz scored again on the man advantage from just outside the crease.
Mark Streit, who led all players with 25:54 of ice time and five blocked shots, said the team’s effort in the first 20 minutes needed improvement, especially once Pittsburgh went on three first-period power plays.
“If you give up two goals on the penalty kill, then it’s tough to rebound,” Streit said. “We had a flat start. We woke up a bit too late.”
Trailing 3-0 in the second period, Brad Boyes scored the lone Islanders goal of the night. Simon Despres got tied up with the puck at the blue line and fell to the ice, springing Boyes down the wing. Boyes’ snipe went far side on Pittsburgh goaltender Tomas Vokoun. Casey Cizikas, who was making his way off the ice for a change when he passed it ahead, and Matt Moulson were credited with the assists.
But the Penguins pulled ahead for good later in the second. Kunitz completed his hat trick at 13:34 after a Kris Letang shot bounced off Nabokov’s pad and onto the forward’s stick, making the score 4-1. Sixteen seconds later, Neal extended the Penguins lead to four goals on a breakaway with his team-leading 17th of the season.
Dupuis scored his second of the night six minutes into the third period to make the score 6-1. After a failed clearing attempt by the Islanders, Crosby and Dupuis had a 2-on-0 down low on Kevin Poulin, who replaced Nabokov between the pipes following the second intermission. Crosby, who earned assists on each of Pittsburgh’s first four goals, finished the game with his fifth helper of the game. Kunitz picked up an assist on the play as well for his fifth point of the night.
Poulin finished the third period with 10 saves on 11 shots. Nabokov stopped 12-of-17 in the first 40 minutes of the contest.
Notes: The Islanders registered 14 shots in the third period after being outshot 17-10 through the first two periods … The Islanders went 0-for-3 on the man advantage, while the Penguins went 2-for-4 … The Islanders lost the faceoff battle 39-19 … Kyle Okposo was the Isles’ best in the circle at 3-for-5 (60%) … Matt Martin led the Islanders with four hits.
New York Islanders
60 Kevin Poulin
14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 9 Pascal Dupuis
18 James Neal - 15 Dustin Jeffrey - 19 Beau Bennett
24 Matt Cooke - 16 Brandon Sutter - 48 Tyler Kennedy
27 Craig Adams - 46 Joe Vitale - 10 Tanner Glass
58 Kris Letang - 4 Mark Eaton
7 Paul Martin - 44 Brooks Orpik
47 Simon Despres - 2 Matt Niskanen
92 Tomas Vokoun
29 Marc-Andre Fleury