Penguins Squander 2-Goal Lead, Lose to Isles

The Pittsburgh Penguins gave up another 2-goal lead late in the game and lost to the New York Islanders on Saturday night.  The Islanders, motivated by the presence of former Islanders coach and Hall of Fame inductee Al Arbour, put on a strong showing and came back from a 2-goal defecit to beat the Penguins by a score of 3-2.  Arbour, who was invited behind the bench to coach his 1,500th game,  earned Islanders win No. 740 behind the heroics of Miroslav Satan, who netted the winner with only 2:41 left.

The Penguins, playing without defenseman Ryan Whitney (groin), opened the scoring in the first period with a power play goal by Ryan Malone at 12:06, while Gervais was in the box on an interference call.  The goal, assisted by Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, kept the Penguins all-games power play goal streak alive by having scored a power play goal in each of the 13 games played so far this season.  Crosby’s assist also extended his personal scoring streak to 12-games, the longest such streak in his career.  The Penguins were 1 for 2 in the first period on the man advantage and were perfect in killing 2 penalties of their own.  After 2 infractions in the first period, the Islanders managed to stay out of the box for the remainder of the game.  The Isles outshot the Penguins 11-8 in the first. 

In the second period, the Penguins struck again at 1:48 to make it 2-0 on a scorching goal by Tyler Kennedy, the first of his NHL career.  The goal went in and out of the net so fast that neither the goal judge nor the referee thought a goal had been scored until the tape could be reviewed at the next stoppage of play, almost 2 minutes later.  The Penguins knew however, including Kennedy, who raised his arms in celebration when the puck went in the net.  Mark Recchi managed to collect the souvenir puck for Kennedy when play was stopped.   Gary Roberts and Maxime Talbot were credited with the assists.  The Islanders struck back at 8:20 on an even strength snap shot goal by Trent Hunter of a weird bounce off the wall on a pass behind the net attempt by Crosby.  The puck bounced back out in front of the Penguins net and Hunter buried it.  The assist went to Mike Sillinger.  The Penguins were outshot 18-11 in the second period, and killed off 6-minutes in penalties including a double minor to Sidney Crosby for an errant stick that somehow managed to penetrate Rick Dipietro’s goalie mask and left a contusion around his eye.  Crosby was attacking the net with Malkin at the time when an Isles’ defenseman lifted his stick and the blade inadvertently poked through the caging on Dipietro’s mask.  Dipietro immediately skated to the locker room, and a delay ensued as the Isles attempted to get him back on the ice to show the refs that he was bleeding for the double minor.  Isles’ spokesman Chris Botta said initial reports showed the injury wasn’t serious, and that DiPietro was sent for an evaluation to confirm.

In the third period, the game opened up with some nice end-to-end skating.  Miroslav Satan tied the game at 2-apiece on a wrister at 5:30 from Vasicek and Sutton.  The score remained tied until 17:19 when Satan scored again on another wrister from Bergeron and Park.  Despite pulling Marc-Andre Fleury for much of the last minute of play, the Penguins were unable to convert and put up the tying goal.  Shots were 10-6 in favor of the Islanders in the third.

The loss marked the second consecutive game in which the Penguins gave up the 2-0 lead to 3 unanswered goals resulting in a loss.  “We had the lead the last couple of games and we let it slide,” Crosby said. “We can’t keep coughing it up, especially when we were going back and forth.  We played hard to get the lead, and tried to keep it, but just couldn’t.”  The Penguins were outshot in the game 39-25, and Fleury saved 36 of 39 shots (0.923) fired at him. 

The Penguins have a tough schedule this week with 3 divisional games in 4 nights.  They travel to New Jersey on Monday night to take on the New Jersey Devils, then host the Flyers on Wednesday, and then travel to New York on Thursday to take on the Rangers.  The Penguins can ill afford to perform poorly in this coming week’s games. 

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