Vokoun stops Islanders cold, Penguins win, 4-0, to take series lead

Dan Bylsma was hoping for a spark from Tyler Kennedy and Joe Vitale.

What he got was closer to a conflagration.

Kennedy, a healthy scratch for the first four games of the Penguins' Eastern Conference opening-round playoff series against the New York Islanders, scored the only goal they would need in what became a 4-0 victory in Game 5 at Consol Energy Center.

Bylsma discusses 4-0 Game 5 win over Islanders

Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma discuesses his team's 4-0 win over the Islanders Thursday night. (Video by Matt Freed; 5/9/13)

He gave his team four games worth of pent-up energy, too, as he was visible -- in a positive way -- virtually every time he went over the boards.

So was Vitale, who also made his series debut. He didn't get a goal, but he did contribute three hits, a 9-1 mark on faceoffs and, as well as Kennedy, a major infusion of speed and energy.

Both played important roles in the Penguins victory.

Both were overshadowed, to a degree, by another guy who got into a game for the first time in the series, goalie Tomas Vokoun.

He made his first playoff appearance since 2007 and stopped all 31 Islanders shots to record his second career postseason shutout.

Vokoun did most of his best work in the opening period, when New York ran up a 14-7 edge in shots, but made his finest stop after Islanders center John Tavares weaved through the Penguins with 7 1/2 minutes left in the second and the Penguins up, 2-0.

"Huge save for us," Bylsma said.

That save aside, Tavares felt the Islanders didn't do enough to challenge Vokoun.

"We've got to make it harder on him," he said. "It wasn't very tough on him. We didn't get to the front of the net a lot.

"We had some chances at times, but it wasn't very difficult. We didn't make it tough on him."

No one denied, however, that Kennedy and Vitale made things difficult for New York. No one seemed surprised by that, either.

"We know the type of energy they're going to bring," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "Both guys, we've seen them all year."

The Penguins have a 3-2 lead in the series, and can clinch a spot in the second round opposite Ottawa with a victory in Game 6 at 7:08 p.m. Saturday at Nassau Coliseum.

"As I told the team after the game, our backs have been against the wall before," Capuano said.

The Islanders' objective will be to force a Game 7 which, if necessary, will be played Sunday at Consol Energy Center.

Kennedy put the Penguins in front to stay at 7:25 of the second, as he pulled in a long lead pass from defenseman Kris Letang and broke in alone on New York goalie Evgeni Nabokov before sticking a shot over his glove.

"Sometimes, there are breakdowns and there are guys behind [the defense]," Letang said.

Just 82 seconds after Kennedy's goal, defenseman Douglas Murray -- who generally averages about one goal per decade, whether he needs it or not -- flipped a harmless-looking shot from the left point.

Turned out that looks were deceiving, because the puck bounced off Nabokov's shoulder and dropped into the net for Murray's second of the series, the most for any defenseman on any team in this year's playoffs.

It also was the third goal in his past 11 games for Murray, who had gone 146 games without scoring before getting on his current roll.

The Penguins have had trouble protecting two-goal leads at times in this series, but they didn't have to worry about that for long Thursday because Sidney Crosby put them in front by three at 14:00.

He slipped between New York defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky and Thomas Hickey before throwing a shot by Nabokov from inside the right circle for his third of the series.

"It was a pretty amazing goal," Bylsma said. "Pretty spectacular."

Enough that it inspired comparisons to the Mario Lemieux goal commemorated by a statue outside of the arena, although Crosby downplayed such talk.

"His was much nicer than mine," he said. "He went through guys, stickhandled through them, and then stickhandled around the goalie, too. I had a few less moves and a pretty basic shot."

Letang added a power-play goal in the third, but it was evident well before that that the Penguins would have an opportunity to lock up a spot in Round 2 Saturday.

No less obvious was that a best-of-seven isn't over when one team wins three games.

"Far from it," Letang said. "Far from it."

mobilehome - breaking - penguins

Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com or Twitter @MolinariPG. First Published May 10, 2013 1:45 AM


Create a free PG account.
Already have an account?