Quality over quantity was the theme at the Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday night. The Islanders took a season-high 52 shots, but only generated two goals, while the Pittsburgh Penguins scored four goals on 21 shots for the victory.
"I thought we carried a majority of the play," said head coach Ted Nolan. "We had our chances and they had their chances, but they seemed to bury theirs. We were a little snake-bitten on our goal scoring ability. We had our opportunities, we just couldn't capitalize. I wanted us to go after them hard, and I think we did."
The most productive player in the NHL over the past month was up to his old tricks. Evgeni Malkin regained the points lead to himself with a goal and an assist. Jeff Taffe also scored a goal and added an assist for the Penguins.
Ty Conklin needed to make 50 saves to earn the victory tonight as the Islanders peppered him with 23 shots in the first period, but he allowed no goals in the opening frame.
"Their goalie had a good game," said Sean Bergenheim. "You have to give him some credit. I don't think I've ever played a game where we've taken this many shots and not won."
The Islanders scored just one goal on ten power play chances, with the tally coming in the game's final two minutes. Pittsburgh scored two goals on the power play in four opportunities.
"Our power play had a chance to get us the lead early, but we didn't move the puck, we didn't move our feet and we didn't execute the plays we worked on from the start of the year," said Nolan. "It certainly let us down. There was no working together. Guys were on the other side and not supporting each other."
The Islanders fell behind 2-0 and cut the lead to 2-1 in the second period, but the Penguins put the game away with two third-period goals.
"It was frustrating," said Bill Guerin. "There was one thing that lost us that game - the power play. We just didn't get it done."
Malkin scored the Penguins' first goal on their second shot of the game with a wrist shot at 11:50 of the first period. With 2:08 remaining in the first period, Taffe scored on a rebound while skating 5-on-3 for a 2-0 Penguins lead.
The combination of Jeff Tambellini and Frans Nielsen cut the lead to 2-1 with 9:34 left in the second period. Tambellini's centering pass deflected off Nielsen's skate and past Conklin for Nielsen's first goal of the season.
"I thought the kids skated well tonight," said Nolan. "They had good hockey sense out there and looked good playing together."
The Penguins made it 3-1 when Malkin found Jordan Staal, with a delayed penalty coming to the Islanders. Staal roofed his ninth goal of the season with 7:05 remaining in the third. Connor James scored on a nice deke to salt the game away with under three minutes remaining in the final period.
Mike Comrie showed some fight to his game, dropping the gloves with Tyler Kennedy with less than three minutes remaining in the third period.
Ruslan Fedotenko jammed home a rebound on a late power play for a 4-2 game.
Five Stars of the Game: 1. Ty Conklin: Was in a groove right from the start, 23 saves in the first and 17 in the third 2. Evgeni Malkin: Has been unstoppable since Crosby went down, 32 points in 18-game span, goal and assist tonight 3. Jeff Taffe: Picked up his fourth goal and fourth assist of the season 4. Connor James: Tallied his first NHL goal/point 5. Tyler Kennedy: Two-thirds of a Gordie Howe Hat Trick with an assist and fight
Stat of the Game: Bill Guerin led the Islanders with eight shots.
Slapshots: The Islanders took the first 13 shots on goal…The 23 first-period shots was a season high for the Islanders…Newly acquired defenseman Rob Davison joined the team with 7:06 remaining in the first period. His plane landed at LaGuardia around 5:30 pm and it took an hour and a half to get through traffic to the Nassau Coliseum. "I arrived when the guys were walking on the ice to start the game," said Davison. "I met most of them for the first time on the bench. I was just happy to be playing tonight"…The last time the Islanders had 50+ shots on goal was on January 28, 2006 against Boston...Islanders Assistant coach Gerard Gallant was struck just under the eye with a puck in the first period. He left the game and did not return. Ted Nolan said he needed stiches, will get an x-ray and be re-evaluated tomorrow.
Kickbutt Fan of the Game: ESPN analyst and 3-time Super Bowl champion Mark Schlereth attended his first-ever Islanders game. Prior to the start of the third period, in-game host CJ Papa interviewed the former Denver Broncos guard.
Game Operations: The Eastport South Manor Choir sang a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem…Newsday's moment #3 was the Islanders' third Stanley Cup Championship in 1982. The Islanders defeated the Vancouver Canucks in four games…The American Airlines Final Destination Frisbee toss contestant came away with a trip to Florida…The Islanders game ops crew debuted a new trivia game entitled "Who Said It?"
11 Andy Hilbert - 89 Mike Comrie - 13 Bill Guerin
26 Ruslan Fedotenko - 63 Josef Vasicek – 7 Trent Hunter
15 Jeff Tambellini – 51 Frans Nielsen – 57 Blake Comeau
20 Sean Bergenheim – 10 Richard Park – 81 Miroslav Satan
Goaltenders 35 Ty Conklin
30 Dany Sabourin
12 Ryan Malone - 71 Evgeni Malkin - 17 Petr Sykora
38 Jeff Taffe - 11 Jordan Staal - 48 Tyler Kennedy
39 Christopher Minard – 25 Maxime Talbot – 36 Connor James
27 Georges Laraque - 37 Jarkko Ruutu
Check out the Islanders TV Game Day tab for complete coverage tonight’s game.
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YOUR CHANCE TO SKATE WITH LEGENDS
"Skate with the Greats": Islanders fans have the opportunity of a lifetime to skate at RexCorp Plaza with the Islanders Dynasty members on March 1
Ever wanted to skate on an outdoor rink with Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Bobby Nystrom and your other Islanders heroes...and have the Stanley Cup nearby?
You can when the Islanders host "Skate with the Greats" on Saturday night, March 1 at 7:00 pm at Rexcorp Plaza. The night is a benefit for the New York Islanders Children's Foundation and is limited to just 100 guests so you'll have plenty of "time and space" on the outdoor rink to rub elbows with the legends.
"Quite simply, the Islanders have never had an intimate event as special as 'Skate with the Greats' is going to be," said Bossy, the greatest goal scorer of his generation and a hero to countless Islanders fans. "Because it's for the Islanders Children's Foundation, we wanted to make it first-class for our benefactors. I promise you that my teammates and I are going to make this a night you will never forget."
Not only will you have the chance to meet and skate with your favorite Islanders legends from the past, but the Stanley Cup will be also be in attendance for photo ops. There will be a silent auction during the evening, which includes cocktails and dinner. Appetizers and beverages will also be served rinkside when the "Core of the Four" members skate from 7 - 8:00 pm before the evening moves inside to the gorgeous Rexcorp Atrium.
"I look forward to meeting our fans and getting the rare chance for me to skate alongside them," said Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier. "It's going to be a blast and best of all it's for a terrific cause, the New York Islanders Children's Foundation. I've talked to a bunch of the guys and they're really looking forward to it."
"Skate with the Greats" is part of the weekend's Core of the Four celebration to honor the men that were part of all four Stanley Cup winning Islanders teams. RexCorp Plaza is located across Hempstead Turnpike from the Nassau Coliseum.