The New York Islanders fell behind early and never caught up, dropping Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series by a score of 5-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins Wednesday at CONSOL Energy Center.
An early penalty led to the first Pittsburgh goal, and the Penguins capitalized for a second time on the man-advantage, tallying their third goal of the night at the start of the second period. The Islanders had four chances on the power play but were unable to convert to get back in the game.
“They worked harder than us,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “And at this time of the year, the teams that work harder are going to win hockey games. We didn’t have the work ethic and determination that we’ve had over the past month, and our execution was poor.”
Beau Bennett scored the game’s first goal during a first period power play. Bennett wristed a shot from the right wing through a sliver of space above Evgeni Nabokov, who was hugging the post, at the 4:30 mark.
Later in the period, the Penguins extended their lead to 2-0 after a wild scramble in front of the Islanders goal. Jarome Iginla and Craig Adams took shots as the Islanders netminder skated out to cut off the angle, but Pascal Dupuis picked up a rebound and found the back of the net.
The Islanders found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-on-3 power play early in the second period, and the Penguins capitalize. Kris Letang scored just as the two-man advantage came to an end, wristing a shot through Andrew MacDonald and in at 1:19. Just 32 seconds later, Dupuis put home his own rebound and second marker of the game, extending the Pittsburgh lead to 4-0.
Kevin Poulin took over in goal for the Islanders after the Penguins fourth goal. Nabokov made 11 saves on 15 shots through 22 minutes.
Tanner Glass added to the Penguins lead later in the middle frame. His wrist shot from a hard angle along the left wing boards snuck between Poulin’s legs at 13:07, making it 5-0.
The teams played a scoreless third frame, but it wasn’t without vigor. Marty Reasoner was assessed a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct after a late-third period hit on Jussi Jokinen. Travis Hamonic, Matt Moulson and Casey Cizikas were also given misconducts, while Douglas Murray, Dupuis and Iginla received matching penalties.
Afterward, Matt Martin assessed the outcome with a look toward Game 2.
“That wasn’t a good game for us,” Martin said. “It’s disappointing. We need to be a lot better. Fortunately it’s a seven-game series, and that was just one game. We’ve got a long stretch ahead of us. We just need to respond well Friday night and try to go back home with a split.”
The Islanders have a chance to earn that split as the series stays in Pittsburgh for Game 2. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. Friday, May 3.
Notes: Each team posted 26 shots on goal … Andrew MacDonald led all Islanders with 22:56 of ice time … Lubomir Visnovsky took a game-high five shots … The Islanders won 32-of-62 faceoffs (52-percent), led by Keith Aucoin (6-of-7, 86-percent) and John Tavares (10-of-17, 59-percent) … 12 Islanders, including Kevin Poulin, made their postseason debut … Seven misconduct penalties were called in the third period (NYI-4, PIT-3), and the teams combined for 89 penalty minutes (NYI-51, PIT-38) … The Islanders out-hit the Penguins 41-36, led by Matt Martin’s 10.