(Sports Network) - The New York Islanders' first playoff game in six years did
not go well, but the eighth-seeded club will try to rebound on Friday when
they visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for Game 2 at CONSOL Energy Center.
The Penguins, this year's No. 1 seed in the East, didn't have captain and
superstar forward Sidney Crosby when they opened the Eastern Conference
quarterfinals at home on Wednesday, but they didn't need him to rout New York.
Pascal Dupuis scored twice and Marc-Andre Fleury posted a shutout with 26
saves to lead the Penguins in a 5-0 thumping of the Islanders in Game 1.
Playing without Crosby, who has been sidelined since suffering a broken jaw
against the Islanders on March 30, Pittsburgh put on a clinic in the first two
periods then held firm in the third to grab a 1-0 lead in this best-of-seven
Tanner Glass, Beau Bennett and Kris Letang all scored for the Penguins, who
are in the playoffs for a seventh straight year but have been bounced in the
first round the past two seasons. Jarome Iginla, Jussi Jokinen and Evgeni
Malkin each posted two assists.
"You obviously want to win the first one and play well," said Dupuis. "But
we've spent the past 20 games or so playing well and winning those one-goal
games, so we know what winning looks like."
There's a chance Crosby could play Friday after he practiced on a line with
Dupuis and Chris Kunitz, his usual line mates. Crosby has been back at
practice for more than a week, but this is the first time he was placed on one
of the top-four lines.
However, Crosby, who finished tied for third in the NHL with 56 points this
season, insists that being assigned to a line with Kunitz and Dupuis in
practice doesn't mean his status has changed.
"Nothing has changed from yesterday," Crosby said after Thursday's practice.
"I'll continue getting ready. It's nice to get in a couple of reps before I
get in there."
Pittsburgh also lost forwards James Neal and Jussi Jokinen to injuries in
Wednesday's Game 1. Neal, who was second on Pittsburgh with 21 goals this
season, is questionable for tonight's game after suffering a lower body injury
following a hit from New York's Travis Hamonic.
Jokinen, meanwhile, expects to play Friday after leaving Game 1 late in the
third period with an undisclosed injury. The Finnish forward had seven goals
and four assists in 10 regular-season games with Pittsburgh after he was
acquired in a trade with Carolina.
Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov will try to bounce back from a rough
outing in Game 1, as he was chased from the net early in the second period
after allowing four goals on 15 shots. Kevin Poulin stopped 10-of-11 shots the
rest of the way for the Isles, who are in the playoffs for the first time
since the 2006-07 season.
"I just thought our execution was very poor tonight," said New York head coach
Jack Capuano. "When you spent the night chasing the puck the whole time you're
not going to accomplish much."
Centerman John Tavares also will try for a better effort tonight after he
failed to register a shot while skating over 17 minutes in his playoff debut.
The first overall pick in the 2009 draft, Tavares has garnered Hart Trophy
support after helping lead the Isles back to the playoffs with a 28-goal, 47-
point regular season.
Tavares believes the key to get back into this series lies in the physical
aspects of the game.
"A lot of sacrifices are made [to win]," Tavares told his club's official
website. "It's going to hurt a little bit. I try to be physical myself. I
tried to finish some hits. It's a part of the playoffs."
The Penguins are seeking their first ever playoff series victory over the
Islanders, who have won all three of the previous matchups. However, all three
series were pushed to the brink, including a best-of-five series meeting in
the conference quarterfinals in 1982, when New York won its third of four
These clubs haven't met in the playoffs since the 1993 division finals.
The Penguins went 18-6-0 as the host this season and the Islanders had a solid
14-6-4 record as the guest.
The next two tests of this series will be played at Nassau Coliseum on Long
Island, with Game 3 set for Sunday afternoon.
The Sports Network