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Penguins Skate Through Garbage, ‘Players Took Ownership’ in Game 3 Win

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Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Islanders, NHL playoffs, Game 3

The Pittsburgh Penguins lead the Round One series 2-1 against the New York Islanders and have again claimed home-ice advantage. It wasn’t easy. It surely wasn’t pretty. And in fact, it was downright ugly in the third period when the New York Islanders used a time-honored tradition to change a game in which they could not keep up.

The Penguins led by two after two periods and eventually won with late dramatics by Brandon Tanev, who swatted a puck out of mid-air for the game-winning goal. The Penguins won Game 3, 5-4.

But down by two and chasing the Penguins, who were increasingly getting the better of New York’s forecheck attack, New York attacked harder. Beyond the whistles, near the net, do what you must. If the refs call it, they call it.

Whistles and legalities mattered less than getting a hit on the Penguins. And a punch. Or a whack.

Five minutes into the third period, the Islanders took Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Kris Letang, and Brian Dumoulin into the penalty box. Fortunately, the penalty boxes were in the vaccinated sections of the Nassau Coliseum because there was no social distancing.

The Islanders got a power play based on a late Jake Guentzel slash, and Anthony Beauvilllier scored on the resulting power play.

Edit: Five Islanders also received penalties, but the Penguins received six minors.

“It was a bit of a rollercoaster tonight. Going into the third up two, (we gave) it back, and then it kind of broke loose there,” Jeff Carter said. “But we stuck with it. It’s a resilient group. You give them up (goals), you get right back on the horse, and get work. And so, you know, it was a real strong game in that sense from our team tonight, sticking with it, grinding it out, and ultimately getting the win.”

In the time honored tradition, if you need a player off the ice or need to change the game–punch him. If he doesn’t respond, punch him again. Or tackle him until he punches back. Use your stick if you can.

Yeah, it’s the worst of hockey. Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin’s face earned a two-minute roughing minor for attacking Kyle Palmieri’s gloves. Sidney Crosby’s vile, despicable helmet wouldn’t stop hitting Islanders’ defenseman Scott Mayfield’s stick.

Crosby’s helmet is such a whiner. Geez.

If only Bryan Rust’s neck weren’t so aggressively attached to his head, he could have spun around to fight two Islanders who were throwing punches.

They apparently don’t have a class on temporary decapitation and escape at Notre Dame. So much for that Catholic education, eh?

Even if the Pittsburgh Penguins tried to skate away, an Islanders player was ready to pull them back into the rodeo. Mike Sullivan used to preach, “Just Play,” but it seems his players have already adopted the philosophy.

“The conversation tonight, a lot of it took place among players, which was great to listen to their dialog on the bench and just trying to stay focused and make sure we play the game that gives us the best chance to win,” Sullivan said. “Certainly, the coaching staff is trying to make sure we help them keep the focus where it needs to be. But tonight, I thought the players took ownership for it, and they were all talking among themselves.”

It’s quite a testament to the Penguins’ maturity. In years past, they would have doubled down on the Islanders attacks with stupid penalties, forgot about the puck, and tried to prove their ‘manhood.”

There were 15 penalties in the third period. Instead, Jeff Carter and Brandon Tanev scored goals to answer the tying goals by Cal Clutterbuck and Anthony Beauvillier.

“Carter was a horse for us tonight. He played a hell of a game. He was a great leader for us on the ice, and obviously, with the penalties, it was an interesting period, to say the least,” Tanev said. “We’re fortunate to come out with that win, and we’re looking forward to the next one.”

In a just world, that’s how the game goes. In a just world, the offenders lose. But that’s not always the case in hockey. In fact, it’s less often the case.

Game 4 may graduate from a WWE rumble to a full street fight.

Physicality is an essential part of the hockey experience. It defines the game and separates the best players from the weaker players. But the stunts and tactics of Thursday night are why too many novice fans turn on the hockey game, then turn off the hockey game.

The Islanders’ fourth liners were already tilting the ice. Had they kept it legal-ish, New York had a much better chance to win. Instead, Cal Clutterbuck went a little too far in trying to duplicate the New York feat of getting the entire Penguins starting lineup in the penalty box and put the Islanders shorthanded.

Carter scored.

New York outhit the Pittsburgh Penguins 46-29 and extended their “hit” lead in the series to 164-115. But that matters far less than the results, though they do add up.

Carter’s go-ahead goal proved vital. Without it, the Penguins don’t get the game-winning goal. Without it, New York likely would have surged ahead.

For one night, justice prevailed. However, you can rest assured that Game 4 will not start with a spot of tea and lively discussions on literature and art.

Make sure the chairs are bolted down.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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