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A blog by a long time New York Islanders fan who stays true to the fellas wearing orange, white and blue…but thinks the Islanders organization has some shaping up to do.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

35 For No. 35 In Shootout Nailbiter

Penguins 2: Islanders 3 (SO)

Gimmick or not, you can't deny that some great things happen in the shootout.

With the memory of the 9-2 thrashing they got earlier in the season by this team no doubt there in the back of their minds, the Islanders came out strong against their division rivals yesterday afternoon. Thankfully, however, this game turned out to be a tight one, each team scoring twice, one after the other.

First was a good play by Sean Bergenheim, who skated the puck up the wing and saw Chris Campoli darting to the net. He cross-ice passed to Campy, and the puck deflected off his skate past Marc-Andre Fleury. After a video review to ensure there was no "distinct kicking motion," the Islanders had the 1-0 lead. The Penguins tied the game up 6:27 later, as Evgeni Malkin displayed his great wrist shot, blasting it past Joey MacDonald.

It took around fifteen minutes, spread out over two periods, for the tie to be broken. Sean Bergenheim again made it possible (he had a great game), driving around the net and centering to Andy Hilbert. Hilbert's initial shot on goal was stopped, but Fleury failed to hold, and that resulted in Frans Nielsen stuffing it into the net just before it was knocked off its moorings. 2-1 Isles. But then Mark Streit (yes, you read right- he's back) took a penalty which resulted in a power-play goal by Ryan Whitney that Joey didn't really have a chance on.

The teams played to a draw in the third, and that turned into a very, very entertaining OT- one in which I don't think I've ever heard the sold-out crowd cheer quite so loud. It was well-earned, as the last three minutes of 4-on-4 play saw some incredible chances go both ways, as well as some great defensive work- by a forward, no less, that being Kyle Okposo. Bruno Gervais also played extremely well in this game. The overtime ended scoreless, and that paved the way for an interesting shootout.

Nielsen shot first, scoring on a few nice moves. Then Petr Sykora made a unique and smart move, going wide on the goalie to drag him further up into his crease, leaving the top left corner open. He scored, making the shootout tally 1-1. Then came young Jeff Tambellini, a guy who hasn't had the best time on the Island, bouncing in and out of the lineup. Putting him into the shootout was a sign that Scott Gordon has a bit of faith in him- and for good reason, as Tamby also made a peculiar move, skating to the hashmarks and then letting go a bullet that put the Isles up 2-1. Joey would then stop both Malkin and Sidney Crosby to give the Isles a great win, one that snapped their five-game losing streak and sent the kids home happy on Presidents' Day. He rightfully earned the first star of the game with his solid performance.

Notes: Dan Bylsma was behind the Penguins' bench yesterday, as Michel Therrien has been relieved of his coaching duties... the Penguins outshot the Isles 37-30...the Isles outhit Pitt 35-23, Brendan Witt leading the way with six hits (imagine that, Pitt outhit by Witt)... Streit was back in the lineup after missing five games with an upper-body injury.

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