There wasn't a celebratory sense in the Pittsburgh Penguins locker room following their 4-3, overtime victory against the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
There was no arrogance, no dismissive words, nothing that would indicate it was easy.
On this night, there was only a sense of relief. And escape.
The Penguins defeated the Islanders thanks to defenceman Brooks Orpik's overtime goal. With about five minutes remaining in the third period, defenceman Paul Martin scored to even the game.
Up until that point, the Islanders were seemingly in control, much like when they hosted Games 3 and 4.
New York out-worked and out-skated the Penguins for much of the evening, playing a solid brand of hockey while the talented Penguins continually shot themselves in the foot with a series of bizarre mistakes.
Only some brilliant play from backup goalie Tomas Vokoun kept the Penguins from being completely ambushed during Game 6. The Islanders came in droves throughout the evening, but never led by more than a goal.
Still, New York did take a third period lead thanks to some intelligent play and a turnover from Pittsburgh defenceman Kris Letang that can only be described as gruesome.
Letang, a nominee for the Norris Trophy, blindly threw a pass into the middle of the ice early in the third period with the score even at 2-2. He did this time and time again in the series, and this time, he was burned.
Matt Moulson picked off the pass and set up a wide open Michael Grabner, whose first goal of the series gave the Islanders a 3-2 advantage.
The Penguins appeared to be stunned during the next few minutes as the Islanders continued to take it to them physically.
However, as the third period past the halfway mark, something changed. The Penguins began keeping the puck deep in New York territory for long stretches.
"We sensed they were getting nervous," Orpik said.
Finally, Martin and Orpik were able to score gigantic goals in the victory.
The Penguins next face the Ottawa Senators in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.Malkin's mixed-up night
What a peculiar night it was for Penguins star Evgeni Malkin. Through the first two periods, Malkin endured a miserable evening. He blew a defensive assignment on John Tavares' first period goal, was beaten uncharacteristically on a number of one-on-one battles, and looked frustrated throughout the entire game. Still, it is difficult to deny that he made a brilliant pass from behind the net to set up Martin's game-tying goal and forced the turnover that led to the overtime goal.
Orpik joined a list of Penguins' folk heroes to score playoff overtime goals. Another hard-hitting defenceman with little scoring skill, Darius Kasparaitis, scored 12 years ago to defeat Buffalo in Game 7 of that series.
"No shot's a bad shot," Orpik said.
Orpik hadn't scored a goal in almost 200 games.
Orpik, a defensive defenceman if ever there was one, now has something on his owner and captain. Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby have each never scored an overtime goal in the playoffs.The Sid & Iggy Show
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby produced at least one point in each of the games against the Islanders, finishing with nine points in five games. His new linemate, Jarome Iginla, recorded a point in all six games during the series with two goals and six assists.
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