Jeff Zatkoff's night was going extremely well until the ten minute mark in the third period. That's when the wheels fell off the Pittsburgh Penguins bus and the New York Islanders took complete advantage. Benefiting from one really good redirect, one mistake and one lapse of judgment, the Isles scored three tallies in the third period and stole a game from the Penguins with a score of 4-3.
Frans Nielsen, who's having a fantastic year, started the chaos when he tipped a Thomas Hickey slapshot pass Zatkoff to tie the game, 2-2. Sixteen seconds later, Joe Vitale made a sensational pass to a net-crashing Deryk Engelland who buried it for his first goal of the season. The CONSOL Energy Center was alive again and momentum was back on Pittsburgh's side . . . then Chuck Kobasew heavily failed on a clearing attempt which gave Pierre-Marc Bouchard nothing but open ice between him and Zatkoff. The showdown was against a 26-year old making his second career start verse a eleven-year veteran with over 300 career points. The Islanders took the lead and added a Josh Bailey wrister to win the game.
Zatkoff received the early blame. His effort seconds before the Bailey goal was commendable. He stacked the pads and stopped a solid shot, but Nielsen (who had a goal and two assists for the second straight game) kicked the rebound back to Bailey. Chris Kunitz wrapped Bailey up and gave his goalie some time to recover, but Zatkoff couldn't. Despite looking worlds better than his first appearance, Mr. Zatkoff earned scapegoat status.
But the Penguins are not pointing fingers (and if they did, they should be guided to Kobasew and his blunder).
Sidney Crosby, who scored his eighth goal, said, "They got three chances. That's what it came down to. We had some good opportunities too, to build on our lead, but didn't. We made some mistakes and they made us pay."
Islanders coach Jack Capuano seems to agree, "We hung around and after two we talked about it. We're right there. We're fortunate to get a good bounce and tie it up, get the lead back and we continued to work hard. We can play better and be more disciplined. But to come in this building and play the way we played, it wasn't bad."
Zatkoff, who made twenty-one saves and looked entirely more comfortable on home ice, said, "I felt way better. I felt confident the whole game. Just ten minutes got away from us, it’s frustrating. A game we probably should have had. Credit them, they played hard and got the win.”
The Penguins did not help themselves any. They had two late third period breakaways that didn't work out (Sidney was stoned by Nabokov). The powerplay woes continue as the Pens did not convert on five chances. Even with the returning Kris Letang, who logged twenty-five minutes and fired three shots, could not stop the PP drought from climbing to 0-12. A serious adjustment is needed.
The Penguins next play tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It should be a tough test and outstanding hockey game, so maybe skip the club and stay home tonight instead. Puck drops at 7:00pm.
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