Ty Conklin Stops 50-Shots as Penguins Beat Isles 4-2

The Pittsburgh Penguins capped an emotional trade day by beating the New York Islanders 4-2, despite being undermanned in the early going and being outshot 52-20.  Ty Conklin had a stellar night in net as he turned aside 50 shots while Marc-Andre Fleury looked on from the bench.  The Penguins appeared to be playing with a Hossa hangover for much of the game, giving up numerous chances to the Islanders and committing 10-penalties.  But it was the Penguins special teams that had the edge by scoring 2 power play goals and killing off 9-of-10 short-handed situations.  With Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen out of the lineup and on their way to Atlanta, the Penguins started the game 2-players short while they waited on call-ups Connor James and Jason Smith to arrive at the arena from Wilkes-Barre.   

In the 1st, the Penguins got on the board first as Evgeni Malkin scored his 36th goal of the season from Petr Sykora and Jeff Taffe at 10:50.  Malkin managed to circle around from behind the net to low circle and lifted the puck over Rick DiPietro to make it 1-0.  While on the power play at 17:52, Jeff Taffe picked up his 4th goal of the season as he poked in a rebound that was lost between the legs of an Islanders’ defenseman to the right side of the net.  Tyler Kennedy and Kris Letang were credited with the assists.  Despite leading 2-0 at the end of the period, the Penguins were woefully outshot in the 1st by 23-6.  The Penguins were 1-for-3 on the power play and killed off 4 of their own. 

In the 2nd, the Islanders got back into the game on a goal poked in by Frans Nielsen at 10:26.  Assists were given to Jeff Tambellini and Frederick Meyer.  The Penguins were outshot 11-4 in the 2nd, as they successfully killed off 4-penalties.  The Penguins had no power play opportunities in the period.

In the 3rd, it was Jordan Staal who finally converted on a chance as he picked up his 9th goal of the season on a beautiful feed from Evgeni Malkin at 12:55.  Petr Sykora picked up the other assist.  Then at 16:58, all the way from Wilkes-Barre, it was Connor James picking up his first NHL goal on the power play after taking a dead-on saucer pass over the stick of an Islander defenseman from Ryan Whitney.  At 17:03, a fiesty Tyler Kennedy took on Mike Comrie in a short bout in which Kennedy appeared to finish with the upper hand.  Finally, at 18:43 with Evgeni Malkin in the box for a tripping call, the Islanders’ Ruslan Fedotenko put up the final goal from Josef Vasicek and Trent Hunter to make the score 4-2 Penguins.

The win capped an emotional day for the young Penguins who lost 2-close friends and teammates to the trade just prior to the deadline.  It was a likely distraction for the team as they didn’t have a great deal of time to adjust to the news before having to take the ice.  Despite the lack of offensive dominance, the Penguins took advantage of their chances.  Evgeni Malkin returned to the scoring sheet by picking up 2-points (1G, 1A) and regaining the league lead.  Petr Sykora netted 2-assists before leaving the ice late in the 3rd with an unspecified injury.  Jeff Taffe picked up 2-points (1G, 1A), extending his scoring streak to 3-games.  The Penguins extended their February record to 8-2-3, picking up 19-of-24 available points so far, and drew within 1-point of the Eastern Conference leading New Jersey Devils who picked up a point in an overtime loss.  The Penguins overtook the Ottawa Senators by a point tonight as the Senators lost to Boston. 

The Penguins travel to Boston on Thursday night to take on the Bruins.  New acquisition Marian Hossa is expected to join the team for the game.  “I’m really looking forward to joining this group,” he said. “You look at the centermen and you have Sid, Malkin and (Jordan) Staal. They are some really strong, great young players. They have good goaltending and good moving defensemen.  They create lots of offense. I am really looking forward to playing with these guys.”  It is presumed that Hal Gill and Pascal Dupuis will also be joining the team on Thursday. 

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