The New York Islanders are in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2007.
That means there have been a lot of springs lately when the lights were off -- and the hope was missing -- at Nassau Coliseum.
Had to feel just awful at the time. Probably seems like the good old days now.
The Islanders had the misfortune to make their return to postseason play against a deep and talented and highly motivated opponent at Consol Energy Center Wednesday night, and got a 5-0 loss against the Penguins in Game 1 of their opening-round series to show for it.
And, while the Penguins' margin of victory doesn't necessarily mean much -- after all, a dominating five-goal decision counts for no more than one earned in five overtimes -- the way they earned it surely does.
If coach Dan Bylsma had handed out a to-do list before the game, his players would have checked off just about everything on it.
"It was a feel-good kind of game, yes," said winger Pascal Dupuis, who scored two goals.
Some of the reasons for that:
• Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 26 shots to record his sixth career playoff shutout and purge any rancid memories of the 2012 playoffs that he might have retained.
• The Penguins' special teams completely outplayed those of the Islanders -- the power play scored on two of four chances, the penalty-killers were 4 for 4.
• Center Evgeni Malkin, looking to rebound from a relatively ordinary regular season, was visible just about every time he went over the boards and set up a couple of goals.
• Offensive contributions came from all areas of the lineup, as no fewer than 10 players picked up at least one point.
• Islanders center John Tavares, an elite talent, was hit at nearly every opportunity, something that could take a toll over the course of the series if it continues.
"The way we came out, being physical on their top guys, the way we battled, I don't know if they were expecting that," Dupuis said.
New York actually finished with a 41-36 edge in hits, but that stat was a bit misleading.
"For most of the game, we made it pretty easy on them," left winger Matt Martin said. "If you do that, they're just going to run up the score on you."
About the only negative for the Penguins was winger James Neal left the game with an unspecified injury early in the second period, after a hit from defenseman Travis Hamonic. There was no word on the nature or severity of his problem.
"I don't have [an update], and I'm not going to give you one," Bylsma said.
The Penguins began the game without two regulars, center Sidney Crosby and defenseman Brooks Orpik.
Crosby missed his 13th game because of a broken jaw, and his status for Game 2 Friday night at Consol Energy Center is unclear. Orpik had his team-leading streak of 75 consecutive playoff appearances end because of an undisclosed injury.
Beau Bennett got the only goal the Penguins would need at 3:30 of the opening period as his playoff debut echoed the way Mario Lemieux broke into the NHL in 1984. As Lemieux did in his first regular-season game, Bennett scored on his first shift. On his first shot.
The Penguins were on a power play when he beat New York goalie Evgeni Nabokov from the bottom of the right circle. Twenty-five seconds before Bennett scored, becoming the first Penguins rookie since Jordan Staal did it in Ottawa in 2007 to get a goal in his first playoff appearance, Nabokov had been shaken up by a Jarome Iginla slap shot that slammed into his mask.
Dupuis made it 2-0 at 13:23 by backhanding in an Iginla rebound, and the Penguins put the game out of reach with two goals in a 32-second span early in the second.
Kris Letang threw a shot past Nabokov from the left side on a power play at 1:19 and Dupuis scored on another backhander at 1:51. Tanner Glass closed out the scoring at 13:07, beating Kevin Poulin, who replaced Nabokov after Dupuis' second goal. It was his first point in 25 career playoff games.
The outcome had been settled long before. The outcome of the series is far from settled, despite the way it has begun.
"It was a really good game for us, but we know it's one game," Iginla said. "It didn't matter what the score was. They're not going to be happy right now. And desperation only grows as the series goes on."mobilehome - homepage - breaking - penguins
Dave Molinari: email@example.com and Twitter @MolinariPG. First Published May 2, 2013 2:15 AM