The Pittsburgh Penguins scrapped practice plans on Wednesday and instead headed to Long Island for Game 3. Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan became increasingly dismissive of questions about the Islanders incredible number of hits, Brandon Tanev and the Penguins fourth liners are coming front-and-center in the Round One series, Connor McDavid wasn’t enough to beat Winnipeg in Game 1, and Alex Ovechkin snapped on a teammate after a double-OT loss on Wednesday night.
Mike Sullivan said Evgeni Malkin would make the trip with the team for Games 3 and 4, but backup goalie Casey DeSmith will not. DeSmith is still dealing with a lower-body injury. Maxime Lagace remains the backup goalie.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Brandon Tanev is getting a lot of love on social media. The Penguins fourth-line is shutting down Mathew Barzal and the Islanders scorers. That’s the Penguins winning the fourth-line battle.
New York has nearly 150 hits through two games of the series. Sullivan was having none of reporters’ concern over that stat and shut down any talk the Pittsburgh Penguins can’t handle it.
If you stayed up late, you saw the Justin-Schultz-Ilya Samsonon “whoops,” which gave Boston Game 3 in double-OT. Alex Ovechkin snapped his stick and yelled some unflattering things at Samsonov before leaving the ice.
The translation we received Thursday morning is pretty…direct.
Back to the Penguins vs. New York Islanders Round One series…
NYI Hockey Now: There are lots of questions if Barry Trotz should have started Ilya Sorokin in Game 2, especially after Semyon Varlamov whiffed on Bryan Rust’s long wrister. Our NYI takes a stance.
NYI reader poll–How confident are Islanders fans? Will the Islanders win both games at the Coliseum? I think Pens fans should vote, too…
NHL & National Hockey Now
NHL: The Draft Lottery will take place on June 2, and the odds are set for the 16 teams that are not in the playoffs. The Seattle Kraken will pick third, just like the Vegas Golden Knights. Buffalo has the best shot at the first-overall pick.
Boston: Taylor Hall has been a demon in Round One, and since the Boston Bruins acquired him at the trade deadline. I guess he saw the other side with Buffalo and is going all-in. He scored a sick goal in the first period, and Boston beat the Capitals for a 2-1 series lead.
The winner of the series gets the Pittsburgh Penguins or New York Islanders. The East Division has been a bloodbath beyond even what the Metro Division would have been.
Vegas: For a moment, it appeared there was a COVID outbreak among the Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild, but then the NHL investigated. It was false.
Vegas coach Pete DeBoer made the right call and put Marc-Andre Fleury in net for the playoffs. He has been lights OUT in Games 1 and 2, and he definitely should not have a quick hook. Now it’s time for Fleury and Vegas to crush Minnesota’s hopes.
Sportsnet: The Winnipeg Jets secondary players flipped the script on Connor McDavid, and the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg won Game 1.
Florida: Goalie controversy for Game 3 in Florida! Everyone weighs in, including our George Richards. Should Florida go with Bob? Chris Dreigder? Or….surprise ’em all and go with Spencer Knight?
Colorado: Nathan MacKinnon led the way in Game 2, but Nazem Kadri will likely get a call from the NHL Department of Player Safety.
The non-playoff teams…
Philly: What caused Travis Konecny’s big drop-off this season?
And our folks in San Jose take a first look at the 2021 NHL Draft big board.
And for a little cherry on the sundae, watch Sidney Crosby crack up after Tanev’s intense postgame celebration.
Crosby cracking up is the best. https://t.co/jY2yJcHhdU
— Dan Kingerski (@TheDanKingerski) May 19, 2021