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Penguins March to Victory

The sensational Pittsburgh Penguins won their eleventh consecutive game with a 4-2 triumph over the New York Islanders. While the result may fail to shock, the path to success was unforeseen.

“We’re just finding ways to win right now,” Brandon Sutter said. “I think we want to keep playing the way we are. We don’t really want to change much. Obviously we think we can still get better at certain things. I think if we keep that mindset, hopefully we can keep doing well.”

The first period showed a lackluster effort by the usually ebullient hockey club, surrendering the game’s first goal to the host Islanders. Just three points shy of a playoff spot, the Islanders outplayed and outworked the Penguins, ultimately eclipsing the rested hockey club. For the better part of the opening frame, pucks found their way in the Penguins’ zone—and stayed there. Defensive blunders allowed a one timer by Mark Streit, his fifth tally of the season, to beat seasoned goaltender Tomas Vokoun on the glove side. The Penguins netminder stood tall against a flurry of Islanders’ shots, patiently waiting for his teammates to generate offensive. James Neal registered the visitors’ first shot on goal with a drive from the left circle late in the period. Shots on goal favoured the Islanders, 17-3.

Suddenly, Penguins’ fourth line answered the call. From the neutral zone, forward Craig Adams connected with Joe Vitale for his second marker in three games—slapping the puck top shelf and meeting the twine in the top corner. For the Penguins, the goal was a source of new life.

“It was an unbelievable shot,” Adams recalled. “I was behind him so I had a good view of it. Sometimes you’re tempted to pass on a 2-on-1, but they gave him some room and he put it right where he wanted to.”

The Islanders struck again—on a wrist shot from Josh Bailey—and claimed a short-lived lead. Determined to create offense for his team, captain Sidney Crosby fervently busted into the attacking zone before feeding linemate Chris Kunitz seamless a cross-ice pass. Kunitz found the open five hole and tied the game in the dying seconds of the second period. Elated and hungry for a win, the Penguins retired to the locker room and awaited the final frame.

True to form, the Penguins commanded the remaining twenty minutes. Sutter shiftily banked home a cross-crease pass from Matt Cooke, capitalizing on a sloppy clearly attempt by the opponent. The visiting Penguins claimed the lead for the first time that evening.

“I was just coming through with speed and their D went down,” explained Sutter. “[Cooke] just stepped around it and I’m just waiting for the shot. It went in. It was a great play by both wingers and great job by the D getting it up ice.”

An empty net marker by Pascal Dupuis caused the visitors’ bench to erupt and effectively bolstered the Islander’s attempt at snapping the club’s winning streak. The Penguins have tied Western Conference powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks for this season’s longest win streak in the NHL.

Penguins March to Victory
#87 Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins looks for an open teammate as Evgeni Naokov, #20 of the New York Islanders, tries to steal the puck.
(Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

In addition offensive prowess, the Penguins credit Vokoun’s solid showing of skill and patience for the win.

“I’m proud of the way we battled and won this game and came back,” coach Dan Bylsma said following the game. “Talk about different guys getting goals, but our penalty kill as well, Tomas Vokoun playing real strong – definitely a big win.”

Sidney Crosby shares Bylsma’s sentiments.

“He’s the reason we were able to win tonight,” he said.

The Penguins sit atop the Eastern Conference with a record of 24-8-0 and 48 points.

“We bounced back in the second and third periods,” concluded Crosby, who added two assists to his league leading point totals. “Sometimes you’ve got to find ways to win, and tonight we had to find a way.”

 

Sofia Rizzo

Sofia Rizzo

Proud fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins and everything hockey. Hockey is my first love and never fails to inspire, motivate, and uplift me.
Sofia Rizzo

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