UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- They were in no mood for negotiation, this contingent from Pittsburgh. They went about their bludgeoning business in a methodical performance that left little doubt as to the identity of the superior team.
Sure, it took a couple or three hours, according to the final accounting, but it was effectively over in the New York minute it took the hosts to turn to toast.
The common word is domination.
Oh wait, that was the Pirates.
Yeah, 20 miles down the Grand Central Parkway, the Pirates were throttling the Mets, but inside the Nassau Coliseum, the Penguins were straining just to put the final phrasing on an invitation for the Islanders to a Mother's Day appointment back in Pittsburgh.
At least that's what they were doing when Brooks Orpik had apparently had enough. Everyone knows it's hard to get to Ottawa, but this was getting ridiculous. Orpik took a pass from Tyler Kennedy near the left point and drove the puck past Evgeni Nabokov 7:49 into overtime to sneak the Penguins into the second round of the playoffs.
There will be Mother's Day, but there will be no Game 7.
"Geno gave me a great pass," Kennedy said about that fateful forecheck. "I saw Brooksie with his stick up and was able to get it there. He made a great shot; pounded it hard. Everyone on this team can score. There are guys who maybe aren't looked on to score, but whenever you've got the puck, you never know what can happen."
Wasn't that Paul Martin getting the goal that sent this thing to overtime with less than six minutes remaining in a repeat episode in which the Islanders imposed everything but their will?
The luminous resemblance of Game 6 to the other games played in this building in these Eastern Conference quarterfinals was obvious from the start, as New York's swift transitional play tilted the ice in the Penguins' disfavor.
And the similarities went three periods deep as well, with another inexcusable giveaway in the defensive end by the Penguins leading to a tiebreaking Islanders goal, this time with Kris Letang playing the role of Evgeni Malkin, turning the puck over to Keith Aucoin, who quickly fed it to Michael Grabner for the shot that made it 3-2.
The only difference was in the casting, and it's no coincidence whatsoever that the Penguins somehow went on a two-game winning streak at the reappearance of Kennedy.
"It's always nice to see the team win, but yeah, I'm thankful that I'm in the lineup," said Kennedy, whose breakaway goal in Game 5 pushed the Penguins to a 4-0 victory. "It's playoff hockey, and we've got a lot of guys who've played a lot of games in the playoffs. It's fun when it's going back and forth, games that you want to be part of, for sure."
That the Penguins somehow extended still another unpolished performance to overtime was a small miracle, just as the fact that they escaped the first period with a modest one-goal deficit had to be counted as something of an accomplishment, particularly when juxtaposed against the distinct impression that they could have been down, 5-1, with but a few minor wrinkles near the goal cage.
Tomas Vokoun, who relieved Marc-Andre Frantic after his Game 4 meltdown at this very crime scene and who'd put the Penguins within reach of the next round with a Game 5 shutout, got himself solved in the game's sixth minute by the consistently dangerous John Tavares, one of two Hart Trophy candidates with which this series is blessed.
The other would be Sidney Crosby, who got behind the New York defense to put a sharp back-hander into the maw of Nabokov, and the rebound was stuffed home by Jarome Iginla to erase the 1-0 lead Tavares had provided.
Iginla, having recently joined Pascal Dupuis on the Crosby line, has a point in all six games, but his effort had no evident impact on the flow of things. The Islanders kept the pressure high in the attack zone, and before long Vokoun found himself sprawled in the crease in desperation again.
With 13:02 elapsed, the Islanders had outshot the Penguins, 7-2, and it was 12-7 in that category by the first intermission. The Islanders' pressure didn't change, but the score did.
Colin McDonald made it 2-1 New York after Martin misplayed the puck along the end boards under duress from Michael Grabner. The turnover wound up on the stick of Aucoin, who swept it across the goal mouth to the awaiting McDonald for an easy tap-in.
Despite a 16-6 shot advantage in the middle period, the Islanders could not prevent the Penguins from tying the score, even with all the help they were getting from the Penguins themselves. Matt Cooke committed one stupid penalty in the second, and a stupider bench penalty for too many Penguins on the ice put James Neal in the box for another two minutes, but in neither case did the Islanders capitalize.
"We'll get some rest and put it behind us," Kennedy said. "They're a great team. They've improved tremendously and they're going to be really good in the coming years."
To be really good in the coming weeks, the Penguins will have to be a lot better than they ever were on Long Island in this series.
Gene Collier: firstname.lastname@example.org.