The Islanders held Sidney Crosby off as long as they could: Five minutes and twenty-four seconds.
Crosby opened the scoring of the game, slaloming through Marty Reasoner, Jay Pandolfo and Travis Hamonic and driving around Andrew MacDonald with ease before lifting a backhand shot over a sprawled out Anders Nilsson.
That pretty much set the tone for the remainder of the night. The Islanders took most of the shots early on, but Pittsburgh got the goals and later on took better control of the play.
The Islanders had yet another one of "those" games, which is quickly becoming more of the "norm". They've been shut-out five times this season, and continue to be dead last in the league in goals per game (1.9). To be outscored 11-0 in the last two games and go through yet another listless effort is alarming. This could be the beginning of the end for certain players or coaches.
It's clear there's a lack of a number of things here, and everyone has their own ideas of what to fix. I'm going to refrain from going into that right now, for my sanity and yours. I'll do so at a later date. But make no mistake that this kind of stuff won't be tolerated for much longer. It can't be. And if it is, well then shame on all those involved. However, they're likely a huge part of the problem too.
Some of this onus has to be put on the players though. What happened to "matching our opponents intensity?" How exactly did they expect the Penguins to come out for this one, in the return of their captain after a 320 day absence? Teams in professional sports are generally up for games like this, unless they are completely dysfunctional from top to bottom.
In the meantime, there was even more bad news out of this game aside from the loss. Mark Eaton suffered a sprained MCL. Given the injury, and Eaton's history with knee injuries, expect to see a lot more of Mike Mottau in the next several games, with possible appearances by guys like Dylan Reese and Ty Wishart down the road.
I was a bit surprised to see Nilsson get the start in this game since it had a lot riding on it. But it speaks volumes as to the status of Rick DiPietro at this time among this current coaching staff. I really wouldn't have exposed the 21-year-old rookie to this stuff, but Jack Capuano thought some of the things Nilsson could provide would translate well on Monday night. Nilsson made some nice stops and was left out to dry a few times by his skaters, but he also gave up a couple of weak, awful goals.
David Ullstrom made his NHL debut, and actually looked like one of the Isles only forwards doing what it takes to win. He was driving to the net, and likes to cut through the slot area to get there. He used some good speed too. He'll be a successful player in this league if he doesn't get away from playing the game this way. I just hope the bad habits exhibited by those currently around him aren't infectious.
Aside from that, it was lather, rinse, repeat - a carbon copy of the Bruins game, with one less goal. The Islanders need to find a way to win a couple of the remaining games this week, and fast because it may not be long until the next show drops.
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