Penguins tripped up by Islanders in Crosby’s return as New York evens series with 4-3 win

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He missed more than a month but the Penguins hardly missed a beat, going 9-4 in his absence, including a 5-0 romp in the series-opener Wednesday. Crosby’s addition figured to make the task for the eighth-seeded Islanders more daunting. Hardly. If anything, the Islanders gave the Penguins a jarring case of deja vu. The relentless end-to-end play looked reminiscent of Pittsburgh’s ugly six-game loss to Philadelphia in the first round a year ago, when the Flyers scored whenever they wanted thanks to a Penguins defense that hardly seemed interested in doing the dirty work. Crosby doesn’t think it’s time to panic. Still, there is cause for concern. “It’s the playoffs; you lose games sometimes,” Crosby said. “But I think we’ve got to make sure we learn from this one pretty quickly. It’s not the way we want to play, and we definitely have a lot of room to improve.” Giving Fleury some help would be a start. New York peppered him with 42 shots. He turned aside 38, though that number doesn’t include the 18 Islanders shots that missed the net or the 19 that Pittsburgh blocked, numbers that kept things buzzing around the Penguins’ goal all night. source:

Biggest Takeaways from Friday’s NHL Playoff Action


Secondary Scoring Key to Blackhawks’ Early Success Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa have combined for just one goal through the first two games of the Chicago Blackhawks’ first-round series with the Minnesota Wild. But luckily for the Blackhawks, they will take a 2-0 series lead to Minnesota because of their secondary scoring. After depth forward Bryan Bickell scored the Game 1 winner in overtime, fourth-line winger Michael Frolik scored twice in Game 2 to help Chicago earn a 5-2 victory. Frolik’s scoring came at the perfect time because Toews, Hossa and Kane did not create many scoring chances in the first two periods of Friday’s game. One of the advantages that Chicago had over Minnesota coming into this series was its scoring depth on the third and fourth lines. Viktor Stalberg, Andrew Shaw, Marcus Kruger, Bickell and Frolik have outplayed the Wild’s bottom-six forwards in this series. That has allowed the Blackhawks to win the first two games without their top three scorers from the regular season putting the puck in the net consistently. Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu Have Disappointed Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports When the Minnesota Wild spent $98 million to sign Zach Parise as a free agent last summer, they envisioned him being a productive player in the playoffs. After all, Parise captained the sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils on an unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Final last season with eight goals and seven assists in 24 games. After failing to tally a point with just two shots on goal in Game 1, Parise didn’t make much more of an impact offensively in Game 2. He did have seven shots, but the star winger once again failed to find the back of the net. He also had a plus/minus rating of minus-three. source:

Sidney Crosby returns for Penguins, and so do some old problems

Sidney Crosby was great in his return to the lineup. The rest of the Penguins were not. (USATSI)

After recording only 26 shots in their Game 1 loss on Wednesday, the Islanders fired 42 on Friday, outshooting the Penguins by a 36-23 margin at even-strength. “We put a lot of pucks on net,” Islanders forward John Tavares said after the game. “We were going to the net and we didn’t make it easy for them. Going forward it’s going to have to be more and more of that and we’re going to have to take it to another level because it’s just going to get that much more intense and there’s going to be less and less given out there.” Eventually some of those shots started to find their way into the net. None of them was a particularly pretty goal, and some of them were the result of some fortunate bounces off the glass and off Penguins players, but sometimes you can create your own luck. Sometimes that’s what it takes in the playoffs. “We didn’t do a good job getting to Fleury in the first game, we were getting a few shots but he was pretty much gobbling everything up,” Islanders forward Matt Martin said. “Tonight we were throwing a lot of pucks at them, there was a lot of rebounds and the boards are lively here and we were able to get a couple of good bounces. I think it’s an indication of how we played, how hard we worked, and those bounces will come if you work for them.” The good news for the Penguins is their captain returned to the lineup and played very well. Along with the two goals he also won 14 of his 26 faceoffs and generated 11 shot attempts, including eight that were on goal. The bad news is the rest of the team was badly outplayed. Take for example that when neither Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin were on the ice the Penguins generated just three shots on goal during 5-on-5 play. source:

NHL Playoffs 2013: Unsung Heroes Who Will Carry Their Teams


Bruce Bennett/Getty Images The NHL playoffs have been nothing short of spectacular so far and they will continue to get better. As opening-round series draw to a close, there are a few teams that have received production from unlikely players. These players aren’t the biggest names on the roster, but they get the job done and then some. Let’s take a look at a few players who have helped their club win and could propel them to the conference semifinals.   Pascal Dupuis, Left Wing, Pittsburgh Penguins Playing on a team with both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will see any hockey player overshadowed by star power. Pascal Dupuis , however, has made the most of his time with the Penguins and is proving his worth in their opening-round series against the Islanders, which Pittsburgh leads 2-1. Dupuis currently leads the team in scoring with three goals and has recorded at least a point in all three games. In this his sixth playoff campaign with the Penguins, Dupuis has already eclipsed the highest number of goals he has ever scored in one postseason. It appears Dupuis is ready to make the transition from being overshadowed to sharing the goal scoring spotlight.   Braden Holtby, Goaltender, Washington Capitals In a series where Henrik Lundqvist was the only goaltender being talked about going in, Capitals netminder Braden Holtby has been just as good, if not better.  Holtby has only allowed one goal in the series thus far, recording a shutout in a 1-0 Game 2 win. source:

NHL playoffs 2013: Penguins’ Sidney Crosby does his thing

It was the first holding call in overtime since Game 3 of the 2011 Western Conference semifinals, when Devin Setoguchi of the San Jose Sharks was whistled in Detroit. Setoguchi’s penalty would have been 15 yards for a horse-collar tackle in the NFL. As it turned out, he scored the game-winning goal that night. — Stanley Cup playoffs: Saturday results | Sunday games | Monday schedule | First-round update Referees are predisposed to turn a blind eye to anything but the most egregious of violations in overtime because power plays are such precious commodities. Strait holding Crosby did not meet that standard. Crosby also didn’t match Setaguchi in scoring the winner. Instead, he set up Chris Kunitz 33 seconds into the power play. It was his third assist of the game. Still, Crosby’s most astounding feat might have been getting his team — outplayed at even strength all day — the advantage it needed for a 5-4 win and a 2-1 lead in its best-of-7 series. Coach Dan Bylsma said so after the game. “That’s kind of typical of what Sidney Crosby can do,” Bylsma said. “Tough guy, power forward, and he draws the penalty by playing that way, playing down low, going to the net. source:

New York at Pittsburgh

Kyle Okposo (left) scores the game-winner with 7:37 left in the game to cap New York

Instead, he waited for his second. Standing all alone on the post, Crosby tapped in a simple pass from Jarome Iginla to make it 2-0 before the game was four minutes old. The Islanders cut the lead in half when Moulson chipped a power-play goal past Fleury 7:04 into the period, but the momentum lasted all of 18 seconds. That’s how long it took for the Penguins to win the next faceoff and have Crosby skate behind the net, then roof a shot by Nabokov from just above the goal line. Yet the Islanders, unlike in Game 1, did not succumb. Even as the Penguins were scoring, New York continued to generate quality opportunities of its own. In the second period, those opportunities turned into goals. McDonald pulled the Islanders within one 5:12 when he stuffed a backhand underneath Fleury’s pads from a bad angle. Martin tied it just past the game’s midway point when he collected a wayward shot off the end boards and slammed it by Fleury. The surge seemed to unnerve the Penguins. Iginla drew a boarding penalty for attempting to retaliate after New York defenseman Brian Strait dumped Crosby, and Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen found himself fighting Okposo after Okposo took exception with a Niskanen check on Moulson. Niskanen may have won the fight, but Okposo drew blood, a fitting symbol for what the Islanders were able to do while giving the Penguins a reality check. source:


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