Kevin Poulin and Marc-Andre Fleury had an old fashion goaltenders duel last night in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately for the Isles, Craig Adams managed to put in a rebound in the third period to score the only goal of the game and give Fleury and his team the shutout victory.
Kevin Poulin, as far as I am concerned, was simply spectacular. He stopped 30 of 31 shots in the game, and more than a few of his saves were impressive. For a twenty year old kid pretty much tossed into the thick of things, the Isles couldn’t have asked for more from the guy. With Evgeni Nabocov now officially suspended by the Islanders, Poulin is going to have to learn the job in the pros in a rush, as he is going to be Rick DiPietro’s backup for the time being.
The Isles, to me, played pretty good first and third periods, but really hung Poulin out to dry in the second period. For whatever the reason, they let the Penguins take it to them throughout most of the second stanza. To the credit of the Pens, without Malkin and Crosby, they played a tough, grinding game, and simply found a way to win.
I was a bit surprised by the fights earlier on in the game. Both Travis Hamonic and Zenon Konopka both got into fights before the game was even 2 minutes old. It sort of set the tone for a physical match that lasted most of the way through. There was some serious hitting out there, and both teams had their spirited moments. Yes, old time hockey, which is my favorite kind of game.
Other than lacking a bit of net presence, overall, I think the boys played a good game. Fleury certainly came up big for Pittsburgh more than a few times, including robbing Frans Nielsen after Michael Grabner set him up. The problem was, though the Isles killed off all 3 penalties they faced, they could not score on any of their power plays. They got 29 shots on net, but I think the offense could have done more to create traffic and problems for Fleury in front of the net.
By the way, what kind of nonsense call was the goaltender interference on PA Parenteau in the first period. He was clearly pushed into Fleury by a Pittsburgh defenseman, yet still got the gate for 2 minutes. Absolutely ridiculous, as far as I’m concerned.
The Isles play the Hurricanes tonight at the NVMC to go into the all star break. Hopefully, they can come out with a solid effort, despite the hard fought contest last night. I would think we will see Ricky back in net for the Islanders, and pretty much the same lineup as we have been seeing of late from Jack Capuano.