Penguins Defeated, 4-1
PITTSBURGH – The New York Islanders are done playing pushovers for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Matt Moulson scored a goal and assisted on another, Evgeni Nabokov stopped 37 shots and the Islanders dominated listless Pittsburgh 4-1 on Tuesday night.
John Tavares scored for the second straight game for New York while Michael Grabner collected his fourth goal of the season and Casey Cizikas found the net for the first time in his career.
“I don’t consider any win easy but we came out and played the game we wanted to play and I think we didn’t make the game easy for them,” Tavares said.
The Islanders have won three straight against the Penguins dating back to last season, their longest winning streak in the series in more than five years.
Two of those victories have come on the road, something New York hadn’t done in Pittsburgh since 2002.
While the Islanders aren’t getting too far ahead of themselves just six games into the season, the way they dominated a team considered a Stanley Cup favorite is a welcome confidence boost following a late collapse in a loss to Winnipeg on Sunday.
Pascal Dupuis scored with just over a minute remaining to avoid the shutout but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep the Penguins from losing for the third time in their past four games.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 13 shots before being pulled after the second period. Fleury and backup Tomas Vokoun received little help from Pittsburgh’s defense. The Penguins gave it away 11 times, with two of the turnovers leading to New York goals.
“I’m not sure if we’re pressing early, and then it doesn’t happen and you get away from things,” Pittsburgh center Sidney Crosby said. “As you see tonight, we get a couple bad bounces, ended up down early and seems like we let that frustration kind of get to us.”
The Penguins had scored first in each of their five games this season, but Cizikas gave the Islanders a well-earned early lead by stealing the puck from Paul Martin deep in Pittsburgh’s zone then swooping behind the net and wrapping it around an outstretched Fleury.
The goal served as an exclamation point on a period the Islanders dominated in a place they rarely win. New York came in losers in 13 of its past 14 visits to Pittsburgh, the victory a 5-3 triumph last March that derailed any hopes the Penguins had of catching the New York Rangers for the Atlantic Division title.
Pittsburgh expects to be in the mix again during this truncated 48-game season but has hit an early rough patch that left the largest crowd in the brief history of Consol Energy Center voicing its displeasure following another disjointed effort.
“We definitely deflated ourselves with the power play,” Pittsburgh’s James Neal said. “But we’ve just got to have a better effort all over the ice, 5-on-5 and we just didn’t have it tonight.”