Friday, January 16, 2015

A Battle for the Top Spot

Perron celebrates a goal / Pittsburgh Penguins
By: MF, 

There will be a battle on the Isle tonight as the Pittsburgh Penguins will face the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders are only one point ahead of the Penguins. This game will either see the Penguins retake the Metropolitan Division lead or the Islanders separate themselves further.

Now when it comes to the Islanders, the Penguins have gone 1-1-1 this season against them and have a record of 7-2 in their last nine games at Nassau Coliseum. They have been successful against the Islanders having won eight of the last 11 games, dating back to February 5, 2013.

In addition, the Penguins have been doing well on the road, earning points in 14 of their 18 road games this season (10-4-4). Also, This game starts the stretch of three straight divisional contests for the Penguins. The Penguins enter this contest having gone 4-1-1 in their last six games.
Furthermore, the Penguins have averaged 37.7 shots over their last three games. That puts them at above their team average of 31.5 shots by 6.2, which ranks them fifth in the National Hockey League (NHL).

Onto the explosive offensive of the Penguins. To start off, David Perron is fitting right in and putting up the numbers to prove it. Perron has 20 shots since joining the team that happens to be the most on the team during that span. He also recorded three points, during the Tuesday's game versus the Minnesota Wild (two goals and one assist) and established a new season high. Perron wasn't the only Penguin having a multi point game on Tuesday. The Penguins' Captain Sidney Crosby recorded his fourth three-assist game, making him the only player in the NHL with more than three, three-assist games this year. Oh! I almost forgot! Zach Sill notched his first NHL point with an assist on Marcel Goc's goal, during Tuesday's game.
Marc-Andre Fleury makes a pad save / Pittsburgh Penguins

Moving to the defense, Paul Martin has stepped back into the lineup like he had never left in the first place. During Tuesday's game, Martin blocked five shots. This is the third time Martin has blocked five or more shots during the game. The only other defensemen to do so on the team is Rob Scuderi. Martin is a hidden gem, but not to the city of Pittsburgh.

Let's talk about the new player to join the Penguins. The Penguins claimed Mark Arcobello off of waivers from the Nashville Predators. Arcobello joins the team having played 40 games and recording eight goals, five assists, and 13 points during that span. He also has a 14.0 shooting percentage, which would rank him fifth among the Penguins.

A quick injury update: Olli Maatta had a successful surgery and the doctors say there will be no long term damage. Hopefully, Maatta can now have a speedy and healthy recovery.

We have looked at the game preview and numbers, let's move onto the morning skate. All the Penguins were present along with Arcobello. Scott Harrinton, who was recently recalled, was at the morning skate and was paired with Ehrhoff. The line rushes were as follows:

Simon Despres defends / Pittsburgh Penguins
Kunitz, Crosby, Perron
Spaling, Malkin, Bennett
Goc, Sutter, Downie
Sill, Arcobello, Adams

Martin, Letang
Harrington, Ehrhoff
Scuderi, Despres, Bortuzzo

The Penguins need to stay focused during this game and not let the Islanders get them off their game. There is no love loss between these two teams, which usually throws one team off their game. The Penguins have to make sure it's not them. It's game time! Lets Go Pens!

The Pens lineup is as follows:

Kunitz, Crosby, Perron
Spaling, Malkin, Bennett
Goc, Sutter, Downie
Sill, Arcobello, Adams

Martin, Letang
Harrington, Ehrhoff
Scuderi, Despres

Play By Play
Pens 3 Islanders 6

3rd Period
0:00- Isles get the 6-3 win over the Pens and extend their lead over the Metro Division. Bad turnovers and not staying discipline lead to the Pens defeat.

1:13- Grabner Scores. Grabner puts one in the empty net. 6-3 Isles.

1:45- The Pens have an empty net.

2:31- Okposo Scores on the power play. The Isles crash the net and Okposo puts in the bouncing puck. 5-3 Pens.

2:41- Downie goes off for slashing and the Isles get a power play. Horrible time for a penalty to take.

3:08- Downie is robbed by Halak!

3:37- Crosby bulldozes over Boychuk to separate him from the puck.

5:28- The Pens have to watch their puck control and stop turning over the puck.

6:51- Now the Pens look to be on their heels.

8:09- Okposo Scores. The Pens are caught up ice and the Isles get a 4 on 2 chance develops. Okposo drives down the center and snipes one. He gets the hat trick and the Isles take the lead for the first time during this game 4-3.

8:43- Martin has been all over Tavares and isn't letting up. Martin and Letang are having a great game.

11:35- Fleury has to make another tough save on Leddy's shot! The Pens battle to get the rebound and clear the puck.

13:18- Okposo Scores. A weird bounce gives the Isles a 3 on 2 chance as the Pens are changing. Fleury makes the initial save, but Okposo elevates the puck past Fleury. 3-3 tie game.

14:24- Lee is denied twice by the Flower, once by the pad and one the glove!

15:07- The Pens come out flying this period and have the Isles on their heels right now.

16:38- Letang steps up and draws Halak as he goes behind the net. He outlets to Martin, but Halak grabs the puck up with his glove.

20:00- Now there are only 20 minutes left in regulation! The Pens have to keep getting to the dirty areas and finish off the Isles! Lets Go Pens!

2nd Period
0:00- The Pens take back the lead, 3-2 over the Isles, as the period was coming to an end!

0:04- CROSBY SCORES!!! Malkin passes over to Letang at the point! Letang gets the puck to Martin at the side of the net! Martin sets up Crosby at the other side of the net! Crosby puts the puck up high! 3-2 Pens!

1:40- Fleury makes a huge kick (pad) save on Okposo's slap shot.

2:44- Crosby crashes the net, but Halak is able to freeze the puck for a whistle.

4:22- This is a tight game between the two teams. One mistake could very well mean the game will either end in the Pens favor or the Isles.

6:58- The refs are letting the teams play around in the blue paint. Fleury has been mowed over a few times, which is way more then I like. The Pens need to clean out that blue paint every time an Isle steps foot in it.

7:29- Strome Scores. Strome is able to get his stick on the loose puck and put it past a screened Fleury. 2-2 tie game.

7:32- High pace second period with little whistles.

8:25- The Pens are playing a very defensively smart game and the forwards are making sure to get back to help. Fleury is also kicking butt in net.

9:28- Tavares looks to get a breakaway, but Martin shuts them down.

10:01- Clutterbuck goes crashing into Fleury. The Flower gives him a nice welcoming and Sill backs up his goaltender.

11:15- Downie skates his heart out to get behind the Isles defense for a breakaway chance. He is denied by the outstretched pad of Halak!

13:05- Malkin and Spaling are both robbed by Halak. Amazing shift by Malkin's line.

14:17- That is all she wrote and we are back to full strength hockey.

16:17- We will get to see some 4 on 4 hockey. Ehrhoff for holding and Cizikas for roughing will have a seat for two minutes.

18:42- Nielsen fires one off the goal post!

19:04- Matt Martin gets space up  the wing during a chance and passes over to Clutterbuck in front. Fleury denies with the pad!

20:00- Another 20 minutes to go as the second period gets underway! The Pens need the momentum back in their favor. Lets Go Pens!

1st Period
0:00- The horn sounds for the first period! The Pens come out with the 2-1 lead over the Isles!

2:54- Fleury decides to come out to poke the puck away from Matt Martin and is successful!

3:09- Okposo Scores. Tavares makes a pretty play around Despres and goes to Okposo. Okposo is able to propel the puck into the net with his skate. The play is reviewed and ruled a good goal. 2-1 Pens.

3:20- Another successful kill for the Pens.

5:20- Now the Isles will get a second crack at the power play as Harrington is called for hooking.

7:38- PERRON SCORES ON THE POWER PLAY!! Letang passes off to Perron by the blue line! Perron fires a shot through traffic, it's redirected, and blows past Halak! 2-0 Pens!

8:09- Another power play opportunity for the Pens as Clutterbuck is caught for highsticking on Letang.

9:08- CROSBY SCORES ON THE POWER PLAY! Malkin carries the puck into the zone and passes off to Kunitz! Kunitz slaps one, which is saved by the pad of Halak! Crosby drives to the net and the rebound goes off his shin into the net! 1-0 Pens!

9:32- Grabner will take a seat for tripping up Harrington. Time for a Pens power play!

10:04- Harrington fires a shot from the point, but it's redirected into the netting by Spaling.

11:01- The Pens penalty kill has been on fire and has another successful kill as Spaling is released. Fleury was huge on that penalty kill.

13:01- Spaling skates off to the box as he is found guilty of hooking. The Isles will get the first power play of the game.

14:44- The Isles come with pressure, but Fleury is there to stop them. Coming up big early!

16:48- Crosby battles between Isles to get in the offensive zone then makes a play to Ehrhoff. Halak makes the save and the Isles ice the puck. Hard work by Crosby gives the Pens a great chance.

19:27- Fleury makes a huge save to start this game. The Pens can't let the Isles set the tone of the game like that. They need to step it up.

20:00- The puck has been dropped at Nassau Coliseum as the Pens take on the Isles! Time to come out with speed and get to work early! Lets Go Pens! 

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