NY Islanders look for a playoff jolt 17 years and 1 day later against Pittsburgh Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders
Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders / Andy Marlin/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

Sunday's NHL Stadium Series matchup with the NY Rangers was a massive blow to the morale and playoff hopes for the NY Islanders, but it's time to move on to the next game. The Isles travel to Western Pennsylvania tonight to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are also fighting for their playoff lives.

Every game the rest of the way can be seen as a "must-win" for the Islanders, but it starts tonight as the blue and orange look to repeat a past matchup with the Pens from 17 years and one day ago.

The Isles headed into game 61 of the 2006-07 season with 66 points, tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens for the eighth and final playoff spot. It was Feb. 19, 2007, and the Isles were up against the hottest team in the league in the Pens, a team that hadn't lost in regulation in 16 games or 50 calendar days.

Mike Sillinger
Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

The Isles saw themselves behind on the scoreboard just 45 seconds into the game after a Ryan Malone goal. Victor Kozlov tied things up on the power play at 14:49, but the Isles found themselves trailing heading into the second after a Mark Recchi power play goal with 49 seconds remaining in the first.

The teams combined for five goals in the second stanza, with three for the Islanders, credited to Chris Simon, Jason Blake, and Miroslav Satan.

Heading into the third knotted up at four, Malone's hat-trick goal put the Pens up by one, but Simon's second on the night just 1:11 later evened the score once again. The deadlock remained until 19:33 into the third, when the ageless Mike Sillinger scored the game-winner, snapping the Pens' streak of 16 straight without a regulation loss. Sidney Crosby registered four assists on the night, but it wasn't enough as the Isles began to work their way up the standings, ultimately capturing the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

“We’re a resilient team,” Sillinger said after the Isles comeback victory. “It just goes to show the character we have in the room.”

That resiliency needs to make an appearance tonight after Sunday's deflating loss. The Pens have lost four of their last five and are chasing the Islanders in the standings.

Six points out of the second wild card spot with a game in hand on the Detroit Red Wings, the Isles need to capitalize against struggling teams, beginning tonight.

manual