Pens Couldn't Get to Their Game in Game 4
The Islanders defeated the Penguins 4-1 in Game 4 to even the series at 2-2 heading back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Monday.
The Penguins expected a response game from the Islanders after Game 3, and that's exactly what they received. Unfortunately, the Penguins just weren't able to match the urgency and battle level of their opponent.
"I think with the position that they were in, you knew they were going to fight," Penguins captainSidney Crosbysaid. "And I just think that we have to have that same mentality. We can't wait and see and have that type of approach, we've got to go in there and dictate the pace. We didn't do it consistently enough to win the game."
The Islanders came out flying with the crowd behind them, and carried a lot of the play in the opening period. But through a combination of luck, good defensive plays and strong response shifts, the Penguins managed to withstand those surges and come out of the first period with the score 0-0, which was a good sign going into the second.
But after the Penguins couldn't convert two quality chances from Crosby andJeff Carter, the Islanders opened the scoring a few minutes later - and never looked back from there.
"I thought we had some really good looks," Crosby said. "We generated a couple chances and then one shift they get one, and they follow up with another one, and we start chasing the game a little bit. They played better and deserved to win tonight."
It didn't help that the Penguins got into penalty trouble, as they spent over seven minutes of the game down a man. And the one power play they did get in the second period while trailing 2-0 was negated just 29 seconds in afterJason Zuckerwas called for tripping. He was joined byKris Letangshortly after, and the Islanders ended up scoring two power-play goals just 24 seconds apart.
"Of course we understand we took too many penalties," saidEvgeni Malkin, who was given three minors of his own. "Next game we need to focus and play disciplined. I will be more disciplined next game. We're not happy. Not just me, the whole team is not happy with what we did tonight. We need to forget this day and forget this game. It's a best of three right now."
Overall, the Islanders just did a better job of playing their own game and asserting themselves in every aspect, whether it was physically or offensively. The Islanders did a tremendous job of limiting the Penguins offensively. Pittsburgh's decision-making and execution through the neutral zone wasn't the best, and as a result, they weren't able to establish a lot of zone time.
"We need to control the puck, support each other, play behind their D and play offensive zone more," Malkin said. "We need to try to score and play our game."
And when they did have zone time, the Penguins were on the perimeter a lot, as many of their shots weren't high danger. Moving forward, the Penguins have to do a better job of getting to the hard areas and making New York's goaltender uncomfortable.
"We have to fight for the net front,"Brian Dumoulinsaid. "We have to keep grinding. Us as D, we have to put more pucks there and regardless of if we have a player there or not, we have to try to shoot a little bit more."
Down at the other end,Tristan Jarrywas the unfortunate recipient of several bad breaks. On Josh Bailey's goal, Letang ended up pushing Anthony Beauvillier into Jarry, who didn't have time to reset. On Oliver Wahlstrom's goal,Teddy Bluegeraccidentally re-directed the puck past his own goaltender. On Jordan Eberle's goal, the forward had all the time and space in the world to line up a shot.
It was just a tough day for the Penguins, but Sullivan has complete confidence that his players will respond the right way.
"Both teams are trying extremely hard to win, and there are momentum swings throughout the course of a seven-game series," Sullivan said. "We just got to make sure that we bring the resilience to our attitude and our effort and our approach here through the ebbs and flows of this series. We're playing against a good opponent. We knew it was going to be a tough series going into this, so this isn't anything that we didn't expect. We just have to make sure that we react the right way. I think that there's no higher motivation than there is at this time of year to compete for the Stanley Cup."