GAME 2 FALLOUT
There’s only one way to sum up Friday’s 4-3 Islanders win in Game 2 of the Penguins – Islanders Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series. The better team on the ice for that particular night won. The Islanders showing a lot of character, fight in their game, were the better team and the harder working team in Game 2.
“Our guys, they’re relentless,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said afterwards.
Of all the disappointments with the Penguins play, how they lacked any intensity to their game and how they were outworked was most disappointing.
Once the Islanders tied the game 3-3 in the second period, you could just sense they were going to take Game 2 as the Penguins played like a team that was lifeless.
“I think this game was a little bit of a statement game,” Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov said.
Here’s What We Learned from Game 2
1. The blue print on how to beat the Penguins showed up quite often Friday night in the Islanders favor. Three things you to do to beat the Penguins:
Get them to play an up and down game and out of a structured puck possession game, be very aggressive on the forecheck against their defensemen, and get in their head by coming at them with physical play.
The Islanders did all of those things very effectively in Game 2 and it took the Penguins off their game. The Islanders had a strong focus on being much more aggressive offensively in all facets and it was something coming into game 2 that they were going to have to execute well to be successful and get back in this series.
The aggressive game plan seemed to rattle the Penguins who were running around in their own end, looking like a team defensively that resembled how the group played in last years first round series vs Philadelphia.
There was little structure to the Penguins play in their own end and one area that stood out for the Islanders was how hard they were coming on the forecheck. For instance, they were really targeting Paul Martin on the forecheck who looks like a player who’s not in Game shape yet after missing about a month of hockey.
2. When you find a way to get the Penguins out of a structured game, it often leads to the Penguins being sloppy with the puck. That’s what exactly happened in Game 2. The Penguins had 11 giveaways to the Islanders who had just 2. Pittsburgh was never able to establish a strong puck possession game and Evgeni Malkin had a team-high 3 giveaways and that was being generous. I had him down for at least 5 in my notes.
3. When the Penguins scored 43 seconds into the game and eventually went up 3-1, 7:22 into the game, if there was anyone who was going to implode you figured it would be Evgeni Nabokov. Nabokov to me was the storyline of the game as he shutout the Penguins in the final 52:38 minutes of the game. Nabokov had much better positioning and he was squaring up on shooters and not sitting back into the net like he was in Game 1.
4. The Penguins do not come off as an arrogant team by any means but they did play like one yesterday by just going through the motions. The Penguins should be expecting a raucous crowd in Game 3 and the consensus among the players last night is that they knew the Islanders deserved that one. “We know that we didn’t play the way we needed to,” Sidney Crosby said. “They got a few bounces, but they worked for them. I don’t think we feel like we did enough to deserve that one. Whether you win or lose you’ve got to turn the page pretty quick.”