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‘We Have Another Level,’ Game 2: Penguins Lines, Notes & Matchups vs. NYI

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Pittsburgh Penguins lines, New York Islanders

The Pittsburgh Penguins seemingly had Game 1 in their hand. Sidney Crosby and their top line was a buzzsaw. They had a lead after two periods. And they owned the New York Islanders in the regular season. All of the good vibes evaporated, beginning with Jeff Carter’s second-period double-minor high sticking penalty, and the Penguins trail the Round One series 1-0.

The puck drops (sometime) after 7:30 p.m.

Kyle Palmieri scored exactly two goals in 17 games after the Islanders acquired him from the New Jersey Devils, scored a pair of goals, including the OT game-winner.

The Penguins did rally to tie the game in the third period when Carter stormed the Islanders zone two-on-two but took a defender with him to the net. The center drive created space for Kasperi Kapanen’s nifty toe-drag and stick side goal.

“We think we have another level and that that’s that was part of the discussion, we think we have another level. We’ve got to make sure that we heighten our level of intensity, we heighten our level of urgency. Our execution can improve and get better in certain areas.

Tristan Jarry has received a healthy amount of criticism after allowing four goals, a few of which could have been stopped.

The Penguins starting goalie stopped 37 of 41 shots. Penguins backup Casey DeSmith remains out with a lower-body injury, and unless the Penguins face another Jeff Zatkoff scenario, Jarry will be in the net.

New York has a little bit of a question mark in goal. Starter Semyon Varlamov skated with the team’s extras on Monday. And Ilya Sorokin was excellent in Game 1. The call will likely be shrouded in secrecy until we see who leads the team in warmups.

“We’ll see where Varly is in terms of health. He’s very close,”  New York coach Barry Trotz said. “I trust both our goalies. That’s the great thing about having Ilya. … The thought process is pretty simple. Whoever we put in net we feel pretty comfortable with, and we don’t make any excuses of this guy is in so we won’t be as good.”

Penguins Injuries: Evgeni Malkin appears to be out. He skated solo for an hour, and PHN had exclusive video. 

Casey DeSmith is officially out for Game 2 and remains day-to-day. Head coach Mike Sullivan said Brian Dumoulin also skated Tuesday morning and is a game-time decision.

Pittsburgh Penguins Lines & (Regular Season) Special Teams
LWCRW
Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyBryan Rust
Jason Zucker Evgeni MalkinKasperi Kapanen
Jared McCannJeff CarterFreddy Gaudreau
Zach Aston-Reese Teddy BluegerBrandon Tanev
LDRD
Brian DumoulinKris Letang
Mike MathesonCody Ceci
Marcus PetterssonJohn Marino
Expected Islanders Lines  
Leo KomarovMathew BarzalJordan Eberle
Anthony BeauvillierBrock NelsonJosh Bailey
Kyle PalmieriJ-G PageauOliver Wahlstrom
Matt MartinCasey CzikasCal Clutterbuck
Adam PelechRyan Pulock
Nick LeddyScott Mayfield
Andy GreeneNoah Dobson
TEAMPower PlayPenalty Kill
Pittsburgh Penguins23.7%, 4th NHL77.4%, 27th NHL
New York Islanders18.8%, 21st NHL83.7%, 6th NHL

What to Watch:

Please forgive the self-stick tap, but it seems no one else is talking about it. What the New York Islanders changed in the third period were their gaps. All over the ice. We delved into it in the PHN+ Report Card.

(And that’s why you should subscribe!)

New York stopped letting the Penguins handle the puck or breathe. It was a bit of a gamble, but the New York Islanders were behind and had nothing to lose. They stepped forward and disrupted the Penguins, who never really regained their footing.

When the Penguins had some space, they went hard around the edges of the New York defense. The Penguins skated the puck low and forced the Islanders to defend them in the dirty zones. It wasn’t quite a traditional low-to-high game because the defensemen weren’t shooting as much as they were looking for tip plays.

The shots were wide or targeted at players in good position. Sidney Crosby almost had a few of them.

However, when the Islanders stepped forward, the Penguins no longer had their speed to push the New York defense.

We’ll see which wrinkles the Penguins get to in Game 2. Center drives with cutting to the middle seemed to have some success.

Tristan Jarry will be a primary story in Game 2, too. A goalie can have a bad game in the playoffs. Lose your first three starts and look bad in the last two? Questions arise.

Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes: 

-The Penguins went 6-2-0 against the Islanders in 2020-21. This year marks the first time in franchise history the Penguins won six games against the Islanders in a single season.

-The Penguins have a 15-16 all-time series record when trailing 1-0 in a best-of-seven series, including an 8-7 series record when starting at home.

-The team is 5-0-1 this season following a loss of any kind at PPG Paints Arena.

-The Penguins are 18-9 all-time under head coach Mike Sullivan in the playoffs following a loss (7-1 in 2016; 7-2 in 2017; 3-2 in 2018; 0-3 in 2019; 1- 1 in 2020).

-Since Sidney Crosby entered the league in 2005-06, no team has more playoff wins than the Pittsburgh Penguins 98. The next closest team is the Boston Bruins with 85 wins.

-Frederick Gaudreau netted his first goal of the 2021 playoffs on Sunday against the Islanders. Gaudreau has five goals in 103 regular-season games but four goals in nine career postseason games.

.How to Watch:

TV: AT&T SportsNet, NBCSN; Radio: 105.9 The X

Subscribe to PHN+

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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