Islanders 4 – Penguins 1
PIT GAME LEADERS
Matt Murray | 33 Saves, .923 SV%
Conor Sheary | Goal (15), 2 SOG
Phil Kessel | Assist, 3 SOG
Derick Brassard | Assist, 2 SOG
The Penguins performance in Matt Murray’s return to the lineup was underwhelming to say the least.
Pittsburgh fell behind 2-0 in the first 10:33 of the game and although it was a one goal game going into the third period, it just never felt like it was going to be the Penguins night.
In three games so far during a four game stretch against teams that are nine points or more out of a playoff spot, the Penguins have taken 3 out of a possible six points and the Penguins have looked like a bored team, especially in the defensive end.
Defensively the Penguins did a lot of standing around against the Islanders Tuesday night and lacked any flow as they put the Islanders on the power play five times, Pittsburgh had just one power play.
When the Penguins are motivated defensively, then can put some great tape on the ice like did against the Stars on March 11. When they’re not, it’s a vulnerable group as evident all season.
This is obviously a team that might be going through the motions a bit as the regular season is winding down, which is understandable for a back-to-back champ, especially against the opposition the Penguins have seen the last three games and will again tonight vs lowly Montreal on home-ice.
The goals against on the road, though, is starting to become something to watch, especially if the Penguins finish in third place in the Metro or the unlikely scenario of being the top wildcard.
Pittsburgh is 2-5 in their last seven road games and have allowed 32 goals against during that span.
6 goals against vs Panthers, 8 goals against vs Bruins, 2 goals against vs Flyers, 5 goals against vs Leafs, 4 goals against vs Rangers, 3 goals against vs Canadiens and 4 goals against vs Islanders.
1. Tampa Bay | 73 GP – 104 Pts
2. Boston Bruins | 71 GP – 99 Pts
3. Toronto Maple Leafs | 73 GP – 93 Pts
1. Washington Capitals | 73 GP – 91 Pts
2. Pittsburgh Penguins | 73 GP – 87 Pts
3. Columbus Blue Jackets | 74 GP – 87 Pts
WILD CARD RACE
1. Philadelphia Flyers | 74 GP – 86 Pts
2. New Jersey Devils | 73 GP – 82 Pts
3. Florida Panthers | 71 GP – 81 Pts
— A week ago the Penguins looked pretty locked in to either first place or second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers while hanging around have been fading for two weeks, but things have tightened up dramatically with the Columbus Blue Jackets on a 9 game winning streak.
Columbus with a 5-3 win over the Rangers Tuesday night have moved into a tie with the Penguins for second place in the Metro. Pittsburgh has a game in hand.
This Columbus surge has come out of nowhere.
The Blue Jackets 3 weeks ago looked like a club that was going to squeak into the playoffs if they got in, the head coach went public in believing some players in that room were looking for the season to end than wanting to make the playoffs and now they’re back in contention for home-ice in the first round.
Sharks, Blue Jackets have hit big on rental market
The Columbus Blue Jackets made a move at the deadline in trying to add a jolt to their lineup for a stale team by adding rental players on the cheap.
They added depth to their blueline in acquiring Ian Cole (2 goals – 4 assists – +9 in 11 games) for a third round pick and then they went out and traded for Thomas Vanek who is certainly not a John Tortorella player for basically next to nothing.
The move for Vanek raised a lot of eyebrows in that it had little chance he would work with Tortorella.
So much for that.
The Blue Jackets are 9-2 with Vanek in the lineup and he has 3 goals, 5 assists at even strength and a +8 rating in 11 games. Vanek is doing the little things really well and his skilled game has been a much needed element for the Blue Jackets. Vanek lack of effort and poor play away from the puck has seen his stock become so low around the league but there’s a bigger payoff in taking a gamble on skill than just adding a 4th line plugger who will run through a wall for you.
The Blue Jackets are reaping the benefits right now.
Then there’s Evander Kane in San Jose.