May 9, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov (20) reacts after surrendering a goal to Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Douglas Murray (not pictured) during the second period in game five of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Astoria, NY – So the New York Islanders fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center in last night’s Game 5 by a score of 4-0. And yes, the Pens got goals from Tyler Kennedy, Douglas Murray, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang in the win, as well as a 31-save performance from backup goaltender Tomas Vokoun. Long story short, Pittsburgh looked every bit the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed that they are.
(Now that the typical postgame boilerplate is out of the way, let’s focus on what the Islanders did well in yesterday’s game. To be truthful, there wasn’t much.)
In fact, one of the few good things that can be taken from Game 5 for the Isles is that it’s over. Gone. Behind them. Never to be spoken of again.
You can bet that in the room after the final horn, one of the first things said by the coaching staff was that Game 5 was history and Game 6 should be the team’s only focus. The Islanders will return to another electric atmosphere at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Saturday for a 7:00 p.m. date with the Penguins in Game 6.
Here’s hoping the Isles come out angry.
Expectations for this team have been raised. Despite nobody outside of Long Island or the New York metro area picking the Islanders the make the postseason – let alone win a playoff series, especially against the conference’s best team – the Isles can force the top-seeded Penguins to a do-or-die Game 7, where anything can happen.
All they have to do is pull off a victory in Game 6. And they believe they can do it, too.
If you’re going to the Coliseum on Saturday, remember: this team is playing with house money, but that doesn’t mean that they’re just “happy to be here.” We, as fans, have the opportunity to get behind our team in what will be a nationally televised game.
The Islanders think they can win on Saturday. The fans believe it as well. Why not announce to the rest of the country that the Old Barn on Hempstead Turnpike is hungry for more playoff hockey?
We started from the bottom, but now we’re here. One game at a time; one period at a time; one shift at a time.
Floating Around The Twitter-Sphere
Despite the Game 5 blowout at the hands of the Penguins, the Isles still have a good chance to win Game 6 at home. The Coliseum crowd has been the most raucous of any arena during the playoffs, and I’d bet that it’ll be loudest on Saturday with the Islanders facing playoff elimination. This team has given the fan base every reason to #beLIeve that a Game 7 is in order.
Even the national broadcasters and so-called NHL “experts” agree: the noise level at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum dwarfs that of any other arena. The design of the Coli and the passion of the Isles fans combine to make it a difficult environment for road teams to play in, while propelling the Islanders to strong performances at home.
Stat-heads everywhere rejoiced as Howie Rose mentioned – and gave a high-level explanation of – Corsi during Game 5. Is the statistical revolution coming to the NHL the way it did to MLB after the introduction of sabremetrics? Hard to say for sure, but when Howie is talking about it on-air, that’s a good indication of how advanced stats are starting to gain a foothold in hockey.
Remember, Isles fans: it takes four victories by one team to win a playoff series. All the Islanders have to do is force a Game 7, where anything can happen. It ain’t over ’til it’s over.
Last Night In The NHL
Ottawa Senators vs. Montreal Canadiens (OTT 4-1)
The Ottawa Senators wrapped up their series against the Montreal Canadiens with a 6-1 Game 5 victory over their divisional rivals. The Senators advanced to the second round of the playoffs, winning the series 4-1.
Three third-period goals by Ottawa sealed the game, as Montreal could only muster a single tally late in the first period on a PK Subban slap shot.
The Senators’ Cory Conacher had two goals and teammate Erik Condra recorded a goal and two assists, while Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson stopped 33-of-34 shots en route to becoming the no. 1 star of the game.
In what was surely a disappointing end to their season, the Montreal Canadiens bowed out of the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s no. 2-seed.
Despite the late season swoon and early playoff exit, Montreal’s season was a successful one. It was only last year that the Canadiens finished at the bottom of the Northeast Division; this year was a return to glory, of sorts.
The Senators, meanwhile, became the first Eastern Conference team to win its opening-round series this year; they will await their opponent while the remaining three series are played out over the next few days.
Minnesota Wild vs. Chicago Blackhawks (CHI 4-1)
Marian Hossa led the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-1 series win over the Minnesota Wild, notching two goals and one assist in a 5-1 Game 5 victory. Hossa’s offensive output was the product of hard work all over the ice, which seemed to ignite his teammates.
Also scoring for Chicago were Marcus Kruger, Andrew Shaw and Patrick Sharp. The Blackhawks have been a dangerous team all year due to their offensive firepower, which was again on display last night.
The Wild’s lone goal came from Torrey Mitchell at 10:11 of the second period, cutting Chicago’s lead to 3-1 at the time.
Despite a valiant effort by Minnesota in Games 1 and 3, the Blackhawks proved to be too much for the Western Conference’s no. 8-seeded team in their opening-round series. Minnesota was without one of its top scorers in Dany Heatley (late-season shoulder injury) and its starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who suffered an injury in warmups before Game 1.
The Blackhawks will likely play the San Jose Sharks in the next round, unless the no. 7-seeded Detroit Red Wings can come from 3-2 down and beat the Anaheim Ducks.
Senators vs. Canadiens game highlights…
Wild vs. Blackhawks game highlights…
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