The Pittsburgh Penguins are on to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after defeating the New York Islanders 4-3 in overtime of Game 6.
In a series in which Sidney Crosby finally returned and the Penguins tapped into their offensive firepower, it was an unlikely hero who netted the game winner. Defenseman Brooks Orpik, who normally keeps close to the back end and isn’t known for his offense, scored on a slap shot from the left point 7:49 into the overtime period.
Orpik had only scored 12 goals in his nine NHL seasons. His last one came in November 2011, also against the Islanders.
“Felt great, of course, to score. I don’t score too many,” Orpik said.
The series presented more trouble than the Penguins had anticipated. Coming into the series and the NHL playoffs as the odds-on favorite to win the cup, Pittsburgh was expected to steamroll through the Islanders. It looked to be that way after Game 1, in which the Penguins pummeled the Islanders to win 5-0.
But then something strange happened. The Islanders hung on tight, and some shaky goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury — who would be replaced be veteran Thomas Vokoun — allowed the Islanders to hang in the series, nearly forcing a Game 7.
New York had a lead late into the third period of Game 6, but the Penguins knotted the score on a goal from Paul Martin.
“It’s great to finish it, I tell you that,” Vokoun said. “We got everything we could have handled. They played great and it was a tough series.”
Vokoun earned praise for his play after being inserted in Game 5 of the series.
“To be thrown into the middle of a series and play the way he did, that’s huge,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “Especially tonight. They carried the play and had a lot of great chances. He was sturdy and solid for us.”
Now the Pittsburgh Penguins are on to the second round, where they will face the No. 7 Ottawa Senators.