Crosby's streak snapped as Penguins fall to Islanders
December 30, 2010 5:00 AM
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is stopped by Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro on a shootout attept during Wednesday's game at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.
By Dave Molinari Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Sidney Crosby knew his scoring streak had to end eventually.
They always do.
He likely didn't imagine, though, that his 25-game run would be snuffed in a 2-1 shootout loss to a team with one of the worst records in the NHL.
But New York limited him to two shots and no points, then, just to rub it in, Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro turned aside his shot in the second round of the shootout.
Even so, Crosby had a couple of chances to extend his streak.
With about 2 1/2 minutes left in the opening period, for example, he hit the crossbar in a two-on-one break with Tyler Kennedy. And at 12:10 of the second, he set up Evgeni Malkin in the slot, but Malkin was unable to get his shot past DiPietro.
If either of those sequences produced a goal, the Penguins probably return home with two points instead of one, and Crosby has a 26-game points streak instead of memories. And perhaps a few misgivings.
"It's always easy to look back," Crosby said. "There are times when I got points over the span of that [streak] where I didn't have as many chances as I did tonight, but I put one in, or someone else put one in.
"It's a funny thing, the way it works sometimes."
DiPietro, something of a surprise starter, allowed just one goal on 38 shots while Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins stopped 25 of 26.
"Both goalies played well," Crosby said. "That's pretty much it. There were chances there to be had, and they didn't go in."
Not until the shootout, anyway.
Fleury had rejected eight of the nine shots he faced in shootouts earlier this season, but he was beaten by Rob Schremp, Frans Nielsen and P.A. Parenteau. John Tavares was the only Islander he denied.
"I wish I could have stopped one more of those," Fleury said.
Kris Letang and Malkin scored for the Penguins, while Crosby and Mark Letestu failed to beat DiPietro.
Malkin, incidentally, had a streak of his own end. He had gotten a point in each of his previous 14 games against the Islanders.
New York is a rebuilding team that's going nowhere anytime soon (unless the franchise relocates, anyway), but the Islanders aren't afraid to sweat and sacrifice. And on this night, commitment and execution, not talent, was the difference-maker.
The Islanders played a patient, defensive game, relying on DiPietro to snuff whatever chances the Penguins generated.
"They just sat back," Crosby said. "I don't think our forecheck was as effective as we would have liked. ... We had some chances. So did they.
"We played good, but not good enough. There's still an extra level to our game that we didn't reach."
Neither team came come to its best during the first period, when there was a good 15 seconds of action and excitement crammed into 20 minutes of play. If that period had anyone in the crowd of 14,345 on the edge of his or her seat, it's probably because they were considering jumping.
But Josh Bailey put New York in front, 1-0, 36 seconds into the second, when he corralled a Travis Hamonic rebound and beat Fleury from between the left circle and the crease.
Chris Conner pulled the Penguins even at 16:33, swatting a Kennedy rebound behind DiPietro from the left side of the crease for his fourth of the season.
Kennedy had a chance of his own to break the 1-1 tie midway through the third period, after DiPietro all but whiffed on a clearing attempt, giving the puck -- and a shot at an unguarded net -- to Kennedy.
"I don't know what he was doing, but he kind of caught me off-guard," Kennedy said. "He gave it right to me."
A few minutes later, Letang failed to convert on a penalty shot awarded when it was ruled that an Islander other than DiPietro had covered the puck in the crease.
And so the Penguins' focus now shifts to Saturday when, weather permitting, they will face Washington at 1:08 p.m. in the Winter Classic at Heinz Field. There have been times lately when the outdoors game seemed like a distraction for them, but Crosby doesn't see it that way.
"I don't think so," he said. "It's not a bad thing to be reminded of. I think everyone realizes it's a big event and we're lucky to be a part of it."