Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey each tallied a goal for the Islanders, but it was the Pittsburgh Penguins rattling off seven goals in the final regular season home game inside of Mellon Arena to beat the Islanders 7-3.
Six total goals monopolized a first period that left the Islanders trailing 4-2 at the end of the 20-minute frame. Only 23 seconds into the period, Brooks Orpik had the Penguins ahead 1-0 when he floated a shot from the left point that found its way past Islanders’ starting goalie Martin Biron. Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke had the assists on Orpik’s second goal of the season.
At the five-minute mark, it was Alex Goligoski catching a cross-ice feed from Sidney Crosby in the left circle and wristing a shot past Biron’s blocker for the 2-0 Pittsburgh lead. Sergei Gonchar also had an assist on Goligoski’s eighth goal of the season, coming on the power-play.
The Islanders would go on their own man-advantage just over the seven minute mark of the frame and it was Moulson tipping a Mark Streit point shot past Fleury to cut the Penguins’ lead to 2-1. John Tavares had the second assist on the tally, his 50th point of his rookie season.
Evgeni Malkin would regain the two-goal advantage, out-racing two Islander defensemen and sliding a shot through Biron’s legs for his 26th goal of the season with just under five minutes remaining in the first period.
Okposo puts the Islanders back within a goal at the 17:08 mark of the opening stanza. Freddy Meyer led a rush up ice, sending an outlet pass to Jeff Tambellini. The Islander winger came over the Penguins blue-line, and snapped a shot on goal that was blocked but with him driving to the net, the Pittsburgh defense was unable to clear the puck and Okposo came in behind the play, snapping a shot through the legs of Fleury to make it a 3-2 game with his 18th goal of the season.
Pittsburgh was not done in the first, as Crosby ripped a shot from the right circle over the glove of Biron for the 4-2 Pittsburgh lead at the end of 20 minutes of play. Pascal Dupuis and Bill Guerin had the assists on Crosby’s 49th goal of the season.
In the second, the scoring did not slow down as the Islanders cut the lead, once again to one-goal, but then it was Pittsburgh going back up by two and they would take their first three-goal lead of the period with less than five minutes to play in the middle frame. Bailey opened the scoring in the period. Andrew MacDonald snapped a cross-point feed to Mark Streit at the right point. Streit picked up his head and slapped a pass to the near post, where Bailey tipped the hard set-up past Fleury for his 16th tally of the season to make the score 4-3 in favor of the Penguins.
Within a two-minute span, the Pittsburgh would increase their lead to 6-3. Former Islander Bill Guerin was first, tipping a Crosby slap-shot from the half-wall past Roloson who replaced Biron at the start of the middle frame. Gonchar and Malkin had the assists on the goal. Tyler Kennedy was next, walking through the high slot and unloading a slap-shot through a screen that beat Roloson for his 13th marker of the season. Staal and Mark Eaton had the assists.
Guerin closed out the scoring in the third period. Only 1:46 in, Pascal Dupuis threw a shot on net that Roloson stopped but was unable to cover the loose puck. Guerin was able to pounce on the puck and slide it past Roloson for his 20th goal of the season, giving the Penguins a 7-3 victory in Pittsburgh’s final regular season home game inside the Mellon Arena.
The Islanders finished 1-for-6 on the power-play and 4-for-6 on the penalty-kill.
On Saturday, the Islanders will conclude the road portion of the 2009-10 regular season with a match-up against the New Jersey Devils at 7 p.m. The following night, the Islanders will face-off against the Penguins for the season finale at 5 p.m. at the Nassau Coliseum. For tickets or information on packages for next season, contact the team’s front office at (516) 501-6700 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Sidney Crosby – Scores a goal and three assists
2. Bill Guerin – Scores two goals and an assist
3. Evgeni Malkin – Also tallies a goal and an assist
Honorable Mention: Mark Streit – Plays 26:39 and records two assists
Homecoming: Islanders’ defenseman Dylan Reese could not have planned his 2009-10 season any better. He began the year with the Syracuse Crunch, unable to earn a call-up to the team’s NHL affiliate, the Columbus Blue Jackets and was traded to the Islanders for Greg Moore. Since then, Reese has played in 16 games for the Islanders and scored two goals and two assists. Tonight, Reese skated in the final home game at Mellon Arena against a Penguin team that he idolized as a kid growing up in the Steel City. Reese had to purchase over 30 tickets for friends and family for the game.
Debut:Greg Mauldin made his Islanders debut tonight against the Penguins. He currently sits as the leading scorer for the Sound Tigers this season with 51 points in 74 games. The 51 points currently tie his career mark for a single season. The Sound Tigers have three games remaining this season, set for Friday in Lowell against the Devils, Saturday at home against the Manchester Monarchs and Sunday at home against the Hartford Wolf Pack in what will also be Mark Wotton’s 1,000th career professional game.
Melting the Igloo: Mellon Arena saw its final regular season home game tonight. At the end of the Penguins’ playoff run this season, they will move across the street to their brand new arena, the Consol Energy Arena. Prior to tonight’s game, the Penguins held a 20-minute pre-game ceremony with former players such as Mario Lemieux and Islander legend Bryan Trottier taking part in the festivities.