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Playoffs 2013Concerns remain despite Penguins' victory

Posted: Sunday, May 5, 2013 | 06:57 PM

Categories: Hockey Night in Canada, New York Islanders, PIT vs NYI, Pittsburgh Penguins, Playoffs 2013

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The Pittsburgh Penguins needed an overtime goal by Chris Kunitz (14) to defeat the New York Islanders Sunday afternoon. (Seth/Wenig/Associated Press) The Pittsburgh Penguins needed an overtime goal by Chris Kunitz (14) to defeat the New York Islanders Sunday afternoon. (Seth/Wenig/Associated Press)

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The good news for the Penguins is that they escaped Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarter-finals against the New York Islanders with a 5-4 overtime win. Still, concern remains regarding just how the Penguins played.

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The good news for the Penguins is that they escaped Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarter-finals against the New York Islanders with a 5-4 overtime win.

Still, concern remains regarding just how the Penguins played.

They were bombarded early by the Islanders, falling behind 2-0 in the beginning stages of the first period. Then, after they had taken a 4-2 lead, the Penguins blew a two-goal advantage by allowing the Islanders to even the game in the third period.

Pittsburgh has allowed eight goals in its past two games.

A comment from Pittsburgh left wing Chris Kunitz, who notched the overtime game winner, sums up the Penguins' current situation.

Kunitz's inability to make a simple play - something that is plaguing the Penguins - helped New York even the game on centre John Tavares' first career playoff goal.

"It feels really good," Kunitz said. "It was my fault on the fourth goal. I didn't put it deep, I put it wide. They moved up quick and Tavares had a great shot. It's something you regret in your head. I was just fortunate enough to get one back in overtime to make up for it."

Penguins' playoff games are becoming something of a circus.

Including last season's surreal, high-scoring affair in the first round against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Penguins and their opponents have combined for 77 goals during their past nine post-season games.

The Penguins maintain that, to win the Stanley Cup - or perhaps to even close out this series - they must make smarter decisions with the puck.

Sid to the rescue

On a day when the Penguins couldn't have played much worse, their captain helped them take a 2-1 series lead. Crosby, who missed five weeks with a broken jaw, has now played two games in this series and already has five points.

He produced three assists against the Islanders, two of them magnificent.

Late in the first period, with the game even at 2, Crosby busted around the Islanders' defence and delivered a perfect backhand pass to right wing Pascal Dupuis, who scored his third goal of the post-season.

Crosby also drew two penalties, and one in overtime against former teammate Brian Strait proved the difference.

With the man advantage, Crosby received a pass from defenceman Paul Martin and, with the Islanders shifting toward the net, Crosby delivered a pass in the other direction. Kunitz was there in the slot, and made no mistake.


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Islanders still happy

The Islanders weren't delighted to have lost Game 3 to the Penguins but were pleased with most aspects of their performance. Only the Islanders' penalty killing unit - the Penguins went 3-for-5 on the power play and are now 6-for-13 in the series - has been an issue for New York.

New York has been the better five-on-five team for two straight games, something few saw happening before the series.

"It takes four to win a series," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "The sun is going to come up tomorrow."

Still banged up

The Penguins played without right wing James Neal and defenceman Brooks Orpik, both of whom remain injured. Both skated before the game and could be close to returning, though the Penguins are currently refusing to speak of injuries in any way, making the attainment of information about their respective health issues difficult.

Defenceman Deryk Engelland also missed the game because he was a healthy scratch. The Penguins went with rookie Simon Despres in Engelland's place, but that experiment went poorly. Despres was a minus-2 and played less than seven minutes, getting benched for most of the afternoon.

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