These 7:00pm starts mess with everybody. Normally, the opening faceoff for Penguins home games is at 7:30, but tonight started at 7:00. Which means the crowd was slow to arrive (aided and abetted by a road-closing accident at 7th and Grant), and both teams were slow to get up to speed. Much of the first period was rough, but things picked up as the night went on.
This was the sixth of our eight games with the Isles this year, so we're deep into "familiarity breeds contempt" territory here. That was evident early, when Brendan Witt flipped Sidney Crosby with a hip check, and got many knuckle sandwiches from Ryan Malone for his effort. Lots of post-whistle scrums. Lots of extra shoves at the end of checks. I rather enjoyed watching Dominic Moore love-tap Sean Hill in the back four or five times on the way to their respective benches. Hill was giving Moore the "What was that, a mosquito?" treatment, but it was still a nice indicator of how pesky everybody was feeling.
The Penguins goals were almost all rebounds. The Islanders goals were all defensive lapses.
- Erik Christensen pots a rebound early in the first. 1-0 Pens.
- Early in the second. Richard Park, playing out high on a 5-on-3 penalty kill, clears the puck to the boards in the neutral zone, and breaks up ice, seeing that the Pens point man was leaning the wrong way. A favorable bounce off the penalty box door, and Park is alone behind the defense on the right wing. The wrist shot was perfectly placed, high to the far post, to tie the game at 1-1.
- Later in the second, the Pens get a face-off to Mike Dunham's right with a man advantage. Five seconds after the puck dropped, Michel Ouellet collected a rebound, and poked it under Dunham. 2-1 Pens.
- Late in the second, the Pens lost track of Aaron Asham who was all alone in the slot for a chip-in. Tied at 2-2.
- Crosby gets an easy rebound on the power play, with Dunham down and out of his crease. 3-2 Pens.
- Christensen gains the blue line, flings an innocent looking wrister on net, and burns Dunham to a crisp. 4-2 Pens.
- Crosby gets another rebound on a 2-on-1 break. 5-2 Pens.
And then things got ugly. With less than a minute to go, and the Pens cycling in the Islanders' zone, Jason Blake raised his stick as if to hook Sid, then gave Crosby a blade-first spear to the ribs instead. Sid dropped to the ice, popped back up, grabbed Blake by the collar, gave him a shove, and was promptly escorted to the penalty box by the linesman. The score sheet says "unsportsmanlike conduct", but Sid really got two minutes for defending himself from a blatantly obvious spear that the referees didn't call! Crosby gave the refs a little verbal abuse after the horn, but played it cool in the locker room. Coach Michel Therrien was a little less gracious, calling for the league to punish Blake.
Final Score: Penguins 5, Islanders 2, consecutive sellouts: 7.
- Erik Christensen (2G, 1A)
- Sidney Crosby (2G, 1A, 1 subplot for the next trip to Uniondale)
- Michel Ouellet (1G, 1A)