The Pittsburgh Penguins (28-8-0, 56 pts) extended their winning streak to 15 games, capping off a perfect March and completing a third straight shutout win, defeating the New York Islanders (16-16-3, 35 pts) 2-0 on Saturday afternoon at the Consol Energy Center.
Tomas Vokoun made 35 saves, recording his 51st career shutout and the Penguins set a new team-shutout record that now stands at 206:24. Vokoun now holds the Penguins individual shutout record at 162:42.
Matt Cooke (6) and James Neal (18) scored in the win. Cooke who had an excellent all around game, earning the games No. 1 star, broke a 0-0 tie with a goal in front at 8:10 of the third period. James Neal notched his first goal in 10 games off the rush at 13:04 of the period to extend the Penguins lead to 2-0.
The Penguins already without Kris Letang and Paul Martin, lost Sidney Crosby just a 1:28 into the first period after a Brooks Orpik deflected slap shot hit Crosby right in the month and the Penguins captain lost some teeth and went to the hospital to have oral surgery.
“Sidney Crosby took a puck to the mouth, to the teeth, think he lost a few of those, went to the hospital and had to have oral surgery,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. That was the extent of the information that the team has right now. Bylsma was not sure of any concussion or jaw implications.
Crosby the NHL’s leading scorer wasn’t the only prominent player to exit the game as Chris Kunitz was given a five minute major and game misconduct in the second period for checking Josh Bailey from behind.
The Penguins got a spirited win with great efforts from the likes of role players Matt Cooke, Tanner Glass and Craig Adams and the penalty kill was sensational killing off a Chris Kunitz five minute major that included an Islanders 5-on-3.
“We’ve made a couple minor adjustments in a sense of maybe standing two feet here or there and that makes a difference,” goaltender Tomas Vokoun said of the Penguins improved play on the PK.
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma was extremely pleased with the battle level.
“Battle level, kill that we had to come up with, five minute penalty, 3-on-5, job they did and defense did, Tomas Vokoun, felt like we were gutting out a playoff type of game,” Bylsma said of the Penguins win. “Guys that remained we shuffled the deck and did an outstanding job of gutting that one out.”
Jarome Iginla made his Penguins debut and had 17:30 of ice time, registering, 3 shots, 2 hits and +1 rating.
As the game went on, Iginla got stronger as did the Iginla-Malkin-Neal line. They were excellent in the third period, and were extremely tough down low on the cycle as we saw some flashes from the three together. Iginla made his mark with his play along the wall.
“Second half in the game he started getting in the groove of the game,” Bylsma said. “He definitely still has game in him.”
“It was pretty fun. Intense game,” Iginla said. “Lots went on. Huge, Huge PK in the second period really helped swing momentum.”
Iginla agreed that he got better as the game went on. “Definitely in the first period, trying to adjust, ┬áNealer and Geno are flying, and trying to process it all. Hard to calm the excitement, {but} as it went on felt better and it was a treat to play with those guys.”
“He was physical, goes to the net hard,” linemate James Neal said of Iginla’s play today. “He’s a huge addition.