Penguins’ 4-game streak ends with loss to opportunistic Islanders
When coach Barry Trotz was with the Washington Capitals last season, he flew in the face of modern hockey philosophy by focusing on quality of shots rather than quantity.
It paid off in a Stanley Cup championship.
On Tuesday night, Trotz’s new team took the concept to a ridiculous extreme.
It was just as effective.
The New York Islanders took 10 shots on goal in the first 34 minutes at PPG Paints Arena. Five of them went in, dooming the Penguins to a 6-3 loss that snapped a four-game winning streak.
Jordan Eberle scored twice for the Islanders. Matt Martin had a goal and an assist. Matt Murray was pulled after making five saves on nine shots.
“I think we had some good looks. I thought we had some good puck luck as well,” Trotz said. “We’ll take it.”
The Penguins welcomed two of the police officers injured in Saturday’s shooting in Squirrel Hill, Anthony Burke and Mike Smidga, to the ice for a pregame ceremony.
Captain Sidney Crosby expressed regret the team wasn’t able to dedicate a victory to the city in its first home game since the shooting.
“We wanted to find a way to get a win for a lot of reasons,” Crosby said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”
Coach Mike Sullivan, however, thought his team used the emotions of the night to fuel a strong first period.
The Penguins built a 26-13 advantage in shot attempts and 15-6 edge in shots on goal.
It did them no good on the scoreboard against the opportunistic Islanders. They fell behind 2-0 and were chasing a comeback much of the night.
“I know it was emotional for our guys,” Sullivan said. “I think they wanted to inspire our city. I felt like their energy was there. I thought we played really hard. We didn’t always play smart.”
According to naturalstattrick.com, the Penguins held a 42-18 advantage in scoring chances in the game. Many of the Islanders’ chances were extremely high quality, though. A few examples:
• The Islanders caught the Penguins in a line change on their first goal. Andrew Ladd was left wide open to take a cross-ice pass from Valtteri Filppula and score.
• On the Islanders’ second goal, Josh Bailey won a puck battle with Riley Sheahan behind the net and centered to an open Brock Nelson for a shot.
• On the Islanders’ third goal, center Derek Grant tipped a long Nick Leddy bank pass at the red line, but the puck hopped up on the glass and ricocheted off a divider to allow Casey Cizikas to set up Matt Martin for an open shot.
“We didn’t give up a whole lot, but what we did give up, it went in,” defenseman Jamie Oleksiak said.
The Penguins staged a couple of rallies. Dominik Simon banked in a shot off a defenseman’s skate, and Crosby scored his sixth goal in four games to make it 2-2 late in the first.
Evgeni Malkin scored early in the third to record his 10th point in his last five games and pull the Penguins within 5-3.
But by the time former Penguins winger Tom Kuhnhackl banked in a shot with about 10 minutes to play, any Penguins comeback hopes were dashed.
“I think we got a little bit frustrated tonight,” center Matt Cullen said. “When that happened, we loosened up and tried to make a great play on every play, as opposed to defend when it’s in our end and then play offense when we have the opportunity. I think we got a little impatient.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review
staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at
via Twitter @BombulieTrib.