If qualifying for the playoffs showed how far the Islanders have come this season, the opening game of the postseason showed how far the team still has to go.
The Pittsburgh Penguins had an easy time win in Game 1, beating the Islanders 5-0. Pascal Dupuis scored twice and Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves to earn the shutout for Pittsburgh while Jarome Iginla, Jussi Jokinen and Evgeni Malkin each added two assists.
The Islanders showed their lack of playoff experience. Before the game, the club felt they had played playoff-like hockey during the stretch run of the season, but tonight, they found out that the playoffs are a completely different type of hockey.
One of the goals the Isles had was to stay out of the penalty box and they started the game by taking a penalty at the 1:40 mark when Brian Strait was called for interference.
The Penguins took quick advantage as Beau Bennett beat Nabokov to the short side at 3:30 to give Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead. The Islanders were never really in the game after that.
Dupuis’ first tally of the night made it 2-0 13:23 of the opening period and that was the score after 20 minutes.
The second period was no better. Pittsburgh took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play just 1:19 into the period when Kris Letang scored on a bullet from the point to make it 3-0 Penguins. The goal actually came just a few seconds after the 5-on-3 expired.
The Pens locked up the game just 32 seconds later when Dupuis scored his second goal of the game at 1:51 of the second period. At that point, with his team trailing 4-0, Isles Coach Jack Capuano decided to end Evgeni Nabokov’s evening and to allow Kevin Poulin to finish up the game.
Poulin yielded only one goal in 11 shots, on a shot by Tanner Glass late in the second period.
In the end, this was a game in which the Islanders were completely outclassed. They accomplished none of the goals they set for themselves and looked a little intimidated by both the speed of a playoff game and their highly-favored foes from Pittsburgh. They did not stay out of the penalty box, never established a steady presence in the Pittsburgh zone, didn’t slow down the Penguins’ attack and were not good at killing penalties.
This is just Game 1 of the series. The key for Jack Capuano and the Islanders now is to get past tonight’s poor performance. They now know what it takes to compete in a playoff game and have to improve their performance in Game 2, Friday night.
The Islanders are home for Games 3 and 4 Sunday and Tuesday. Islanders tickets for these games are available.
This was the first appearance for the Islanders since 2007 when they lost to the Sabres in five games. The last playoff series the Islanders won came in 1993 against the Penguins.
This is the fourth time these two clubs have met in the postseason. In addition to the 1993 meeting, the Islanders edged the Pens in 1982 in a best-of-five opening round series that featured a late comeback in Game 5. In 1975, the Isles overcame a 3-0 series deficit to beat the Penguins in seven games. Ed Westfall scored the only goal in a 1-0 shutout win in Game 7. Chico Resch earned the shutout.
Marty Reasoner was in the lineup for the Islanders, probably because of his playoff experience. Reasoner was a minus-one and picked up 17 penalty minutes including a 5:00 major for hooking and a 10 minute misconduct for a head butt. It remains to be seen if Reasoner will hear from Brendan Shanahan about supplemental discipline.
Sidney Crosby was a scratch for Pittsburgh and has yet to return from a broken jaw.