Some Penguins fans of a certain vintage likely winced when the first-round playoff matchups were finalized because their team's previous three meetings with the New York Islanders ended badly.
Very badly, actually.
In 1975, the Penguins became the second team in NHL history to lose a series after taking a 3-0 lead, as Islanders captain Eddie Westfall scored the only goal of the game in New York's 1-0 Game 7 victory at the Civic Arena.
Seven years later, the Penguins were on the cusp of upsetting the two-time Stanley Cup champion Islanders in a best-of-five opening round, but John Tonelli scored late in regulation to force overtime in Game 5, then got the series-winner.
And in 1993, New York stunned the two-time Cup champion Penguins with an overtime victory in Game 7, courtesy of a David Volek goal.
While those series might cast a shadow over this one for some, Penguins players seem amused that anyone would believe events from decades ago could have any impact on what will happen in a first-round series this year.
"I always laugh when I see historical statistics that don't really mean anything," forward Craig Adams said.
"If it's something that happened in the last year, that would be more relevant."
No one on the Penguins' roster was born when Westfall got his epic goal, which would explain why a random sampling turned up few players who had even heard of him, let alone were aware of his role in the first Penguins-Islanders collision.
Talk about an edge ...
The Islanders are in the playoffs for the first time since 2007, so it's no surprise that the Penguins -- who have qualified every spring since 2007 -- have a decided advantage in postseason experience. Just how lopsided that edge is is a bit surprising.
Only two Penguins, center Brandon Sutter and winger Beau Bennett, made their playoff debut in Game 1, a 5-0 Penguins win, but no fewer than 12 Islanders -- including such prominent players as John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey -- did likewise.
The 20 players the Penguins dressed for the opener combined for 942 games of playoff experience; the Islanders' lineup accounted for a total of 170.
Some Strait talk
When training camps opened in January, Islanders stay-at-home defenseman Brian Strait was confident he would be in this spot. Sort of.
"Starting out early in the year, I figured I'd be playing in the playoffs in this building, but, obviously, I'm playing here in a different circumstance," he said of Consol Energy Center.
Strait, 25, was selected by the Penguins in the third round of the 2006 draft and seemed ready to move to the NHL full time, but there was a glut of defensemen in the organization, most of whom needed to clear waivers to be assigned to the American Hockey League.
The Penguins placed him on waivers just before the season, and Islanders claimed him.
"Going into the season, you think about making a team," Strait said. "And, then, all of a sudden, you get picked up off of waivers, which was a great thing for me. I get an opportunity with a different team."
Strait stuck with the Islanders and has been paired with team captain Mark Streit. Strait had four assists and a plus-minus rating of plus-4 in the regular season, which was cut short to 19 games because of a broken ankle, since fully healed.
He has no hard feelings toward the Penguins.
"It's a business," Strait said. "That's just how it is. I'm just happy to have a home with the Islanders and happy to be in the playoffs with them."
In the line of fire
Before the playoffs, Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton joked about saving his offense for the playoffs. He picked up an assist in Game 1 after not getting any points during the regular season.
Eaton also had eight blocked shots in the opener, twice as many as anyone else. He was asked which statistic meant more to him.
"I think my job more is about the blocks and playing solid defensively," he said. "If I can chip in offensively, that's a bonus."
Eaton doesn't think about the injury potential when he blocks so many shots,
"I was lucky; I think most of them were with my stick or caught me flush on the shin pads," he said. "It wasn't like I was really hurting after them or anything like that.
"But playoff time, not getting in front of it doesn't cross your mind. You do what you have to do to help the team win."
Islanders coach Jack Capuano called New York center Marty Reasoner's kneeing penalty against the Penguins' Jussi Jokinen late in Game 1 "a right skate-on-right skate" collision. Jokinen left the game but practiced Thursday. Capuano said the NHL did not seek a disciplinary hearing with Reasoner. ... New York goaltender Evgeni Nabokov said a first-period shot by Penguins winger Jarome Iginla likely left the top of his goalie's mask damaged beyond repair. "I don't want to let 'Iggy' know, though, that he has a good shot," Nabokov said.
For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: email@example.com and Twitter @pgshelly. Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.