The New York Islanders attempted 31 shots, but Pittsburgh goaltender Thomas Vokoun stopped them all as the Penguins defeated the Islanders 4-0 Thursday at CONSOL Energy Center. Three second-period goals propelled the Penguins to the win and a 3-2 advantage in the best-of-seven series. The teams head back to Long Island for Game 6 Saturday at 7 p.m.
“[Vokoun] played well, but we made things a little easier on him than we would have liked,” forward Josh Bailey said. “We need to find a way to get more bodies in front. We got a lot of our shots from the outside. We didn’t sustain enough zone time and we’re going to have to find a better way of playing him on Saturday.”
The Islanders out-shot the Penguins 14-7 in the first period, but the teams made it through the 20 minute stanza without a goal for the first scoreless period since Game 1.
In the second frame, Tyler Kennedy, playing in his first game of the series, snuck behind the Islanders defense and caught a long-distance pass from Kris Letang for a breakaway. He wristed a shot over Evgeni Nabokov’s glove for the game’s first tally at 7:25 of the middle period.
Less than a minute-and-a-half later, Pittsburgh doubled its lead on Douglas Murray’s second goal of the series. Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz set up Murray from the point, whose wrister crossed up Nabokov, glancing off his shoulder, up in the air and back down under the cross-bar to make it 2-0.
Sidney Crosby extended the Penguins lead to 3-0 at the 14:00 mark of the second on a solo attack. The Pittsburgh captain broke in the offensive zone and managed to get behind the defense before depositing a forehand shot in the back of the net. Jarome Iginla and Pascal Dupuis registered the helpers on the play.
With an Islander in the penalty box in the third period, Kris Letang lit the lamp on the power play to make it 4-0. Crosby backhanded a pass back to the left side for Letang, whose shot went through a screen and over Nabokov’s right shoulder.
After the goal, Kevin Poulin took over between the pipes. Nabokov turned aside 23-of-27shots. Poulin stopped all four Pittsburgh attempts in relief.
With their backs against a wall, defenseman Brian Strait says the team has confidence it can even the series again and force a Game 7.
“The last three games before tonight we’ve played the way we wanted to play,” Strait said. “We’ve got to make them work for it. After Game 1, we came back and played great, so this is the same thing.”
New York Islanders
60 Kevin Poulin
9 Pascal Dupuis - 87 Sidney Crosby - 14 Chris Kunitz
18 James Neal - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 12 Jarome Iginla
10 Brenden Morrow - 16 Brandon Sutter - 24 Matt Cooke
48 Tyler Kennedy - 46 Joe Vitale - 27 Craig Adams
47 Simon Despres - 58 Kris Letang
44 Brooks Orpik - 7 Paul Martin
3 Douglas Murray - 2 Matt Niskanen
92 Tomas Vokoun
29 Marc-Andre Fleury