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Penguins 1, Islanders 0: Quebec goalie duel is Fleury's by a cheveu

There were saves. Almost 60 of them. Thirty for Kevin Poulin, 29 for Marc-Andre Fleury. There should have been many more goals, but these guys shut the door, repeatedly, through hair-raising chances -- and one here-we-go-again Kyle Okposo goalpost.

Back and forth it went until a second rebound was knocked past Poulin by Craig Adams with 11:25 left in the third period.

Game Sum | Event Sum | H2H | Corsi | Recaps: NHL - Pensburgh - Isles

Final - 1.25.2011 1 2 3 Total
New York Islanders 0 0 0 0
Pittsburgh Penguins 0 0 1 1

Complete Coverage >

That was the difference. The bizarre officiating was just your all too familiar accessory. With five games in seven nights concluding with a back-to-back tomorrow against the Hurricanes, the Islanders are in danger of going into the All-Star Break on the wrong foot.

Game Highlights

Disordered Notes off the Goalpost

  • The way this one started looked like it might be a laugher. The Islanders looked flat (heard that one before?) and the Penguins looked like a team that knew it needed two points before heading into the break. Things shifted half way through the first period, though, and the Islanders finished that period strong, ultimately outshooting the Pens 12-9.
  • The second period was Poulin's period. The Pens counterpunched hard, and Poulin made multiple highlight saves to keep it scoreless. This kid is only 20, but I tell ya'...
  • Not that Marc-Andre Fleury didn't earn his shutout at the other end. He robbed Frans Nielsen twice and was stellar throughout.
  • This game was much more even without Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in the lineup -- and it was more of a hard-fought, back-and-forth, in-the-trenches affair without any individuals dominating and making defensemen panic. Disappointing that the Isles couldn't take advantage of the Pens minus their two stars.
  • The Islanders' last gasp seemed to be their final powerplay (which, ::cough:: was only their second), at the end of which their top guys looked gassed to me. Didn't help that the Pens could do no wrong on the PK -- no infraction would earn the Isles a 5-on-3 there. That perceived fatigue may be the effect of a tough game and the fourth game in six nights. Which, if true, does not bode well for tomorrow.
  • On that note, there were many shared laments about why the fourth line was getting shifts in the final 10 minutes down a goal, but I wonder if Jack Capuano was trying to manage energy. Doesn't quite explain why the hot of late Michael Grabner -- whose six-game point streak ended tonight -- wasn't on at all in the final four minutes as the team scratched for the tying goal.
  • Speaking of which: Matt Martin's third-period penalty hurt things, but I don't know. Even the notoriously homer Pens announcers were scratching their head at the elbow call. I don't want Martin taking unnecessary risks at that part of the game, but it's hard to fault a guy for throwing a side-to-side check.
  • I can't even talk about the P.A. Parenteau goaltender interference call from the first period, in which he got mostly the post, and was driven there by the Penguins defenseman.
  • The Penguins goal was a bit of a fire drill, with no one looking great. It was Josh Bailey's man who eluded him and knocked home the second rebound. But everyone was running around (Blake Comeau and Rob Schremp Hockey too) -- defensive coverage is easy to draw up, but on the second and third opportunity things can get messy. Things definitely got messy.
  • Bailey hasn't scored since the previous Penguins game, on Dec. 29, 13 games ago.
  • Alas, with no Islanders goal, there was no FIG winner on this night.

Off-Topic MSM 'You Sunk My Narrative!' Dumb Example of the Night

Mark Spector Sports
Can someone tell me why Snow picked Nabokov? So the Isles could improve to 24th place? What was the point?

Sigh. Where to start? On one hand yes I can tell you, but should I bother, since you haven't bothered to read up on the Isles' goaltending situation? Let's start with the possibilities:

1) For the same reason the Red Wings signed him: They have goaltending injuries, and Nabokov was available.

1A) Namely: An ECHLer in the AHL, meaning a banged-up AHLer is playing through injury, while a 20-year-old prospect is up in the NHL getting tonight's start because the other AHL/NHL backup Nathan Lawson is out with an MCL injury. And their main NHLer -- the one whose contract you always joke about -- has had the flu and hasn't played back-to-backs. Is that good enough of a "point" for you, or do they need a better reason to disrupt Nabokov's dream of getting special treatment and having a Cup ring put on a platter for him?

2) I know, I know. Silly Islanders, trying to win, when they're in bottom tier where all teams should just stop trying, apparently. Except when they lose, they are a "laughingstock" that fits your longheld narrative. It's hard to cover 30 teams, I'm sure, so it's much easier when some of them just fit existing narratives and do not deviate from that. Milbury! Yashin! Backup Goalie GM! 15 Years!

2A) Of course, when they do try to win -- when they try to improve their club like every NHL club is expected to, then it's "what's the point?"

3) if Nabokov wasn't prepared to go to whatever team claimed him, what was the point of signing? What was the point of letting his agent act like he'd play wherever? What was the point of signing such a cheap contract that multiple non-Red Wing teams would put in a claim? Indeed, what was the point?

This isn't really directed at Spector specifically; he's just one of many MSM reporters and random Twitter experts doing the "what's the point" drill the past few days, when a couple minutes of research would do you good. He was just the most recent one I noticed, so I decided to feed the rationale via spoon, since that appears to be what outsiders require. Not that it would change their opinion even if they bothered to, you know, read up on the topic.