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Hockey Night In Canada

Playoffs 2013Penguins showing troubling signs

Posted: Saturday, May 4, 2013 | 01:18 AM

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

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New York Islanders forward Colin McDonald (13) celebrates his goal with teammates as Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin (71) skates back to his bench during the second period Friday night in Pittsburgh. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press) New York Islanders forward Colin McDonald (13) celebrates his goal with teammates as Penguins centre Evgeni Malkin (71) skates back to his bench during the second period Friday night in Pittsburgh. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

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The Pittsburgh Penguins let another playoff lead get away as the New York Islanders upended the No. 1 seed 4-3 Friday night.
PITTSBURGH -- The New York Islanders entered Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarter-finals having been embarrassed in Game 1, and facing the daunting prospect of Sidney Crosby being back in the lineup.

Crosby landed a couple of early haymakers, but it was the Islanders who enjoyed the last laugh in a 4-3 victory.

With the series even, the first playoff game in six years will be played at Nassau Coliseum on Sunday.

The pressure will most certainly be on the Penguins come Sunday.

Unanimous favorites to emerge from the conference, the Penguins have lost three consecutive series and will feel significant pressure should they fall in Game 3.

Troubling to the Penguins was not so much that they fell to the Islanders but rather the way in which they lost. There is little question that the traits exhibited in this game were reminiscent of the Penguins' meltdown against Philadelphia last season.

Consider:

The Penguins blew a 3-1 lead against the Islanders. They blew leads of 3-0 and 3-1 at home in the first two games against the Flyers last season, losing both games.

Marc-Andre Fleury allowed a horrendous goal for the New York game-winner in the third period. Forward Kyle Okposo missed the net, his shot caroming off the boards behind Fleury.


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The goaltender, much like in Game 3 against Philadelphia last season, knocked the puck into his own net once that came in his direction. Fleury, who uncharacteristically did not speak with reporters following the game, threw the puck out of the net after Okposo scored.

The Penguins were guilty of exceptionally careless play, something that was a trademark of their performance against the Flyers. They were charged with 11 giveaways, compared to only two for the Islanders. And really, those numbers probably aren't even accurate, as the Penguins turned the puck over time and time again, opting for fancy drop passes as opposed to getting the puck deep and going to work on the forecheck.

Crosby did score two goals, both early in the first period. He was playing in his first game since March 30, when he broke his jaw. Crosby clearly was fatigued in the final two periods, showing little burst and often cutting his shifts short. Although he maintains he hasn't dropped significant weight, Crosby currently looks thinner than usual and is still using a modified diet.

He won his first eight faceoffs, but only about 30 per cent of his draws in the final two periods.
The Islanders carried the play throughout the evening, even when they trailed 3-1 in the first period.

They fired 20 shots on net that period, a sign that they were hungry for a victory despite their poor defensive start. New York finished with 43 shots, a number that infuriated the Penguins. Head coach Dan Bylsma, in fact, could be seen berating his team in the first period, while they were winning, a clear sign that he wasn't happy with their play.

The Islanders believe the game turned while, down 3-1, Okposo challenged defenceman Matt Niskanen to a fight. Okposo landed a right hand that cut Niskanen's face.

The Penguins played without injured standouts James Neal (right leg) and Brooks Orpik (lower-body injury). It remains unknown when either player will next be available.

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