Penguins Crush Islanders 5-0 In Playoff Opener

Superstar Sidney Crosby may not have to rush his return to the ice as the Pittsburgh Penguins crushed the New York Islanders 5-0 in Game 1 of their playoff opener. Crosby was ruled out for Game 1 after visiting a doctor on Tuesday, but it didn’t seem to affect his teammates when they took the ice against the Islanders.

The Penguins have dominated the Islanders this season, winning every meeting outside the first way back in January. Wednesday night was no different as Pittsburgh jumped all over the Islanders in the first two periods.

Beau Bennett got the Penguins on the board with a powerplay goal just under four minutes into the first. Pascal Dupuis followed with another goal 10 minutes later to make it 2-0 Penguins going into the second.

Pittsburgh came out even stronger in the second and lit the lamp twice in the first two minutes to force the Islanders to relieve Evgeni Nabokov in net. Nabokov lasted just over 21 minutes in the contest, and made 11 saves on 15 shots before being pulled down 4-0.

Dupuis scored his second goal of the game 32 seconds after Kris Letang found the back of the net on a Penguins’ powerplay at the 1:19 mark of the second period. Kevin Poulin was then given the job of slowing down the Penguins and fared much better than Nabokov.

Poulin’s only slip-up came midway through the second when Tanner Glass scored from the corner near the side boards. Glass threw the puck at net while battling off defenders and it went through Poulin’s five-hole to give the Penguins a 5-0 lead.

The young Islanders goaltender settled in from there and didn’t give up another goal in the game. His team mates failed to give him any support as the Penguins shut down the Islanders the rest of the way.

Marc-Andre Fleury was spectacular in net for Pittsburgh and stopped all 26 shots he faced on the night. Eight of Fleury’s 26 saves came in the final period as the Penguins cruised to a Game 1 victory. The French-Canadian goaltender credited his teammates for taking control and keeping up the pressure late in the game.

“We got some goals. Some perfect goals,” Fleury said in the locker room after the win. “Our guys had been great all night.”

Sidney Crosby has no timetable for a return, but after Wednesday’s dominating performance the Penguins’ may not need him in the first round. Crosby is eager to rejoin his team on the ice but he hasn’t been cleared to play though doctors are pleased with his progress.

Game 2 is Friday night back at the Console Energy Center as the Penguins look to extend their series lead to two games. The Islanders will have to be more aggressive on both ends of the ice if they expect to compete with the Eastern Conference powerhouse.

The Pittsburgh Penguins crushed the Islanders in Game 1, but can they continue their brilliant play without leader Sidney Crosby on the ice?

[Image via Michael Miller]

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