Just one night after a solid effort in Atlanta against the Thrashers, the Islanders struggled against the Penguins, losing 3-0 at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
“We’re a little stagnant with our puck movement,” Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said. “We have to find those 2-on-1s, create seams and lanes. We had chances to do that and tonight I thought we held on to the puck a bit too long.”
The outcome was definitely not what the Islanders were looking to accomplish in their second game back from the All-Star break. They went 0-for-5 on the power play and only had 20 shots on goal through 60 minutes.
“They have a good team; they have good depth,” Blake Comeau said. “I thought if we capitalized on our power plays it may have been a different game. I don’t think we created enough shots. We did some good things in the offensive zone, had some zone time, but at the end of the day, it’s about shots and when you had as many shots as we did, it’s going to be tough to score goals.”
The game started physical. Maxime Talbot’s questionable hit left Comeau face down on the ice in the first period. Talbot skated away scot-free, Zenon Konopka stepped up to defend the hit on Comeau and was given two double minors for roughing with Matt Cooke, who took just two minutes.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t see the hit,” Konopka said. “I thought it was (Michael) Rupp that hit him at first. Then I realized it was Talbot and I thought someone was supposed to drop the gloves. Looking at the hit, it was a dangerous hit and we’re not happy. We’re not happy with the outcome of the game.”
Craig Adams #27 of the Pittsburgh Penguins is tripped up as Rick DiPietro #39 of the New York Islanders protects the net at Consol Energy Center on February 2, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Konopka added, “That was a real tough call, a real tough part of the game.”
With the man advantage, Tyler Kennedy knocked in a power play goal at 8:08 and the Penguins took a 1-0 lead. At 13:10, Chris Kunitz increased the goal differential to two as he netted the puck past Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro. That goal was one DiPietro said he wished he could have back.
“I cheated,” DiPietro said matter-of-factly. Then added, “I’d like to have every goal I let up back.”
At the completion of the first period, the Islanders only had five shots on goal to the Penguins seven. The second period wasn’t much better. Attempts from PA Parenteau and Michael Grabner, which deflected off the goal posts, were the closest the Islanders came to putting a puck past goaltender Brent Johnson of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Johnson played a great game. The Islanders showed their most intensity with 8.5 minutes left in regulation, bust still recorded just eight shots on goal in the third for a total of 20 shots. As the Islanders pulled DiPietro from the pipes, Talbot scored an empty net goal at 19:19 from the neutral zone and handed the Penguins a 3-0 lead.
“Any time you lose a game, you want to lose hard. Cooke was bearing down on Reeser (Dylan Reese) and at that point, I was just trying to create some time for him. I ended up in a fight.”
As a result, DiPietro was put back in the game. As Cooke pressured the net, he interfered with DiPietro which resulted in stoppage of play with 16.5 seconds left on the clock. Cooke, Konopka and Matt Martin got into it in the corner and each took 10 minute misconducts and 2 minutes for roughing; they were all ejected from the game.
That same stoppage of play, which could be characterized as a bizarre set of circumstances, led to DiPietro dropping the gloves with Johnson. Johnson skated into the Isles zone and each goaltender drew one punch before landing on the ground.
“It’s a fight. Things happen. He’s got long arms,” DiPietro said referring to Johnson.
In the scuffle, DiPietro took 19 penalty minutes (2 minutes for leaving the crease, 5 minutes for fighting, 10 minute misconduct and 2 minutes for interference) and Johnson took 15 penalty minutes (5 minutes for fighting, 10 minute game misconduct).
“It’s a part of the game,” Capuano said. “There were some fisticuffs in the corner and one goalie challenged the other. It’s part of hockey.”
Kevin Poulin and Marc-Andre Fleury finished the last 16.5 seconds of play, as both DiPietro and Johnson were ejected from the game.