Penguins defeat Isles 7-3 in final regular season game ever at Mellon Arena
On a memorable night when the Penguins honored more than 50 former players, coaches and executives to celebrate the final regular season game at Mellon Arena, Sidney Crosby had a goal and three assists, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 7-3 victory over the New York Islanders in the 1,667th regular season game at Mellon Arena.
It was a night to remember for the Penguins organization and it was also a memorable night for their captain Sidney Crosby.
Crosby who had four points on the night, put the Penguins up 4-2 in the first period, blistering a wrist shot from the right circle past Marty Biron for his 49th goal of the season.
In the second period, Crosby scored what appeared to be his 50th goal of the season on a slap shot from the right point on the power play at 14:34 of the second period.
The Penguins delayed announcing the goal for minutes, it was inconclusive as to whether the puck went off of Bill Guerin in front of the net and Crosby was awarded the goal. However, the goal was credited to Bill Guerin after the game. The goal was Guerin’s 20th goal of the season.
As soon as Crosby fired the slap shot past Dwayne Roloson, he pointed at Guerin and thought it was Guerin’s goal to begin with. “I thought right away when I shot it, I thought it hit Billy’s leg or hand…… Obviously, I asked him right after and he said it did go off his pants,” Crosby said.
Crosby recorded an assist on the goal in what was also his 500th point of his career. The Penguins star center (22 years, 244 days) has become the third fastest player to reach 500 points in his career. Wayne Gretzky (21 years, 52 days) and former Penguins star and current owner Mario Lemieux (22 years, 172 days) were two others to reach the mark at a younger age.
The Penguins scored four first period goals and according to head coach Dan Bylsma, the Penguins fed off of the energy in the building, which led to a quick start
“Those guys and those memories, it was a special night, ” Bylsma said.
The Penguins scored just 23 seconds into the game on a goal from Brooks Orpik (2) and Alex Goligoski (8) made it 2-0 minutes later, scoring a power play goal at 5:01 of the period to give Pittsburgh an early two goal lead.
It was a thrilling night that saw plenty of individual play, including an unassisted breakaway goal from Evgeni Malkin who intercepted a pass in the defensive zone and went the length of the ice to beat Dwayne Roloson for the Penguins third goal of the period.
39 year old winger Bill Guerin (20, 21) also had a big night scoring two goals and adding an assist for the Penguins.
Tyler Kennedy (13) added a goal and an assist.
The Islanders had a difficult time slowing down the Penguins offensively but Pittsburgh struggled with their play in the D-zone through the first two periods.
Pittsburgh gave up 13 shots and 2 goals in the first period as the Islanders responded well after being down 2-0 early in the first.
New York added a goal early in the second period to cut the Penguins lead to 4-3 before the Penguins broke the game wide open later in the second. The Islanders had 27 shots through two periods and as there were many positives in the Penguins play Thursday night, their play in the d-zone remains a major concern heading into the playoffs.
Marc Andre Fleury made 32 saves to record the win.
While it was a spectacular night from the pre-game festivities to the 7-3 victory, most importantly Pittsburgh gained two points on the New Jersey Devils who lost the Florida Panthers 3-2 Thursday night and both teams are now tied with 99 points and two games remaining.
The battle for the Atlantic division title will go down to the wire.
The Devils two remaining games are at home, against the Islanders on Saturday and the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday to close out the regular season.
Pittsburgh is on the road for their final two games, at Atlanta on Saturday and Sunday against the Islanders.
As for the quote of the night, Sidney Crosby said it best in his post-game comments regarding the Penguins being a family.
“A lot of them were so excited to be here, it’s kind of an excited family,” Crosby said. “We’ve all played for this team and to share this night together and get a big win like we did, that’s special…. that’s the way you want to remember it.”
Penguins honor former alums
Hockey Hall of Famers Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Bryan Trottier, Craig Patrick, Larry Murphy and Andy Bathgate joined 1970s stalwarts Jean Pronovost, Syl Apps, Dave Burrows, Bryan Watson, and Ron Schock as more than 50 former Pittsburgh Penguins helped celebrate the final regular season game at Mellon Arena Thursday night.
The special guests included former players, coaches and general managers who played such a huge part of Penguins history at the old arena – which was known as the Civic Arena when the team made its NHL debut in the 1967-68 season
The game marked the 1,667th and final regular season game played at the Arena before the Penguins move across the street to the sparkling new Consol Energy Center next season.
Six Penguins who were here for the team’s first game, a 2-1 loss to Montreal at the Civic Arena on Oct. 11, 1967, were on hand – players Ken Schinkel, Les Binkley, Gene Ubriaco and Bathgate, along with coach Red Sullivan and general manager Jack Riley.
The full list of 51 alums:
Syl Apps, Andy Bathgate, Bob Berry, Les Binkley, Phil Bourque, Rob Brown, Mike Bullard, Dave Burrows, Jay Caufield, Kim Clackson, Paul Coffey, John Cullen, Bob Errey, Mario Faubert, George Ferguson, Dave Hannan, Randy Hillier, Mark Johnson, Eddie Johnston, Mark Kachowski, Rick Kehoe, Pierre Larouche, Francois Leroux, Troy Loney, Mario Lemieux, Lowell MacDonald, Greg Malone, Gilles Meloche, Larry Murphy, Eddie Olczyk, Dennis Owchar, Bob Paradise, Craig Patrick, Frank Pietrangelo, Greg Polis, Jean Pronovost, Jack Riley, Gary Rissling, Gary Roberts, Duane Rupp, Ken Schinkel, Ron Schock, Ron Stackhouse, Red Sullivan, Peter Taglianetti, Bryan Trottier, Gene Ubriaco, Bryan Watson, Ken Wregget, Warren Young and Wendell Young.
*The Penguins’ all-time regular-season record at the Civic/Mellon Arena is 858-576-233.