In what was a fairly even matchup between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins, terrific goaltending was the story on Tuesday night in the Islanders second visit to CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Rookie goaltender Kevin Poulin kept the Penguins offense at bay, making 30 saves in the Islanders 1-0 loss. Veteran goaltender Marc Andre-Fleury, earned his second shutout of the season and the 18th of his career.
“It was a goalie game tonight,” Poulin said. “One - zero is always hard, even more when you lose. So it was a good battle between me and Fleury.”
Islanders forward John Tavares was rightly disappointed with the loss. After Poulin made back-to-back saves, Craig Adams scored a rebound goal from the paint at 8:35 of the third period, which gave the Penguins the 1-0 lead.
Chris Conner #18 of the Pittsburgh Penguins controls the puck in front of the defense of Rob Schremp #44 of the New York Islanders on January 25, 2011 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)
“I think we could have gone to the front of the net a little better,” Islanders forward John Tavares said. “Tonight was one of those games you needed to get a couple dirty ones to get one. It was one of those games that were real tight and that is how they got one. It kind of went off a few guys and went in.”
Some of Poulin’s saves (30 in all) were remarkable. When asked about the game, the rookie said his fifth NHL start was the best game he’s played for the Islanders thus far.
“I felt great,” Poulin said. “I thought it was my best game. I saw the puck. My defensemen helped me a lot and I think we played a great game in my end.”
The second period was a bit of a struggle. After playing an impressive first period, the Penguins got the better of the Islanders in the second and outshot the Islanders 14-7.
“(Poulin) was great,” Tavares said. “He played with a lot of composure. It’s not an easy place to play in. They’re a very good hockey team. He made some big saves when he had to, especially in that second period. We were kind of on our heels a little bit and he came up big for us again.”
The Islanders penalty kill was impressive. Three penalties in total, the Islanders killed them all. In the third period, John Tavares was called for hooking at 5:09 and Matt Martin took a penalty for elbowing at 13:49. But it was Islanders forward PA Parenteau who was perturbed when he was called for goaltender interference at 7:21 of the first period after being pushed in to Fleury.
“We did alright,” Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said. “There were a couple chances where we over-pursued, but for the most part all right.”
While the Islanders successfully killed all three penalties they took, they were unable to score a power play goal to end the Penguins penalty kill success. After Brooks Orpik was called for tripping Josh Bailey at 11:15 into the first period and Kris Letang was called for tripping at 10:58 of the third, the Penguins successfully killed all 22 of their last penalties. Orpik took his second penalty, this one for hooking, when the buzzer sounded to end the game.
Dustin Jeffrey #15 of the Pittsburgh Penguins battles for the puck against John Tavares #91 of the New York Islanders on January 25, 2011 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won the game 1-0. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)
“On the power play, we could have had a few more shots on net,” Capuano said. “But they’re a hard working team and we had some good zone time.”
In recent games, the Islanders have come out flat to start the game. So in a somewhat different approach, just 26 seconds into the game, Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic dropped the gloves with Tyler Kennedy. While he registered a takedown, the Isles rookie also recorded his first NHL fight. Islanders enforcer Zenon Konopka also scrapped, fighting with Aaron Asham 1:53 into the opening period.
The Islanders face the Carolina Hurricanes at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday night, which is the last game before All-Star Weekend.
“Hopefully we can get the win tomorrow night before the break,” Capuano said.