Home Pittsburgh Sports College Basketball Pens shutout Islanders for fourth straight win

Pens shutout Islanders for fourth straight win

Brent Johnson made 20 saves and the Penguins blanked the New York Islanders 3-0 on Wednesday night. Johnson stopped all 20 Islanders shots he faced, but fell short of his second shutout of the season when he fought Isles goalie Rick DiPietro with less than a minute left. Tyler Kennedy, Chris Kunitz and Max Talbot scored as the Pens won their fourth in a row.

Penguins 3 – Islanders 0
Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh

Back-to-back shutouts against the same team; the 11th consecutive home win over a division rival; using spectacular defense to offset the loss of their star players; a hard-working player’s well-deserved 100th NHL point. All of these are compelling storylines that popped up unexpectedly throughout the Penguins’ 3-0 win over the New York Islanders. But the only topic that will trump Steelers Super Bowl water-cooler chat tomorrow is Brent Johnson’s mean left cross, Rick Dipietro’s shenanigans, and how they both cost Pittsburgh’s backup goalie his second shutout of the season with 16.5 seconds left to play Wednesday night.

“That was amazing,” Max Talbot, who also had a milestone evening, said. “If nobody knew he was a lefty in the league I think everybody knows now.”

Johnson stopped all 20 shots in the Penguins’ win, but being ejected for his first NHL fight meant he forfeited credit for the shutout.

Johnson had plenty of help in front of him, as the Penguins defense allowed only 12 shots through two periods, including just five in the first.

In hind’s sight, Talbot’s night was probably more significant, though much less dramatic, than Johnson’s. The Penguins center, who turns 27 in a week and had been snake-bitten for several games, finally recorded his 100th career point and 50th career goal with an empty-net tally with 41 seconds left to play.

“I think the biggest roar from our bench came when Max got that goal,”

Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said. “It’s the type of goal where if he keeps playing like he is, he’s going to see a couple more come right behind it.”

Talbot hit posts and had chances to score throughout the night, and his hard work, not just in the game, but over several weeks, paid off.

“My game has never been about goals and assists, but it’s always nice to contribute offensively,” Talbot said. “Now the gate’s open.”

Tyler Kennedy and Chris Kunitz each had a first period goal, with Kennedy’s power play marker, his 8th of the season, ending up as the game-winner at 8:08 of the first period. A little over five minutes later, Kunitz shoveled a seemingly harmless shot towards the Islanders net, but the puck caught Dipietro off-guard and slipped through his pads to put the Penguins up by a pair.

The game was chippy and defensively tight from the start, with a fight between Mike Rupp and Zenon Konopka at 2:37 of the second period being the worst of it. But there was no indication of the mayhem that would ensue at the end of the game. While it was Johnson who burst out from his goal cage to face Dipietro, the Islanders’ netminder started the fray by interfering with Matt Cooke.

“With 16 seconds left I’m not sure we needed to go there,” Bylsma said. “But it starts with Dipietro coming out of the net and trying to set a pick on Cooke.”

After Talbot scored, Dipietro returned to the net and apparently decided that letting in a soft first-period goal was not the most foolish thing he could do all night. As Johnson’s first punch sent his foe tumbling to the ice, the dwindling crowd seemed to cheer louder and harder than they had in the previous 59 minutes combined. As did Johnson’s teammates.

While he lost the shutout, Johnson did get at least one very special consolation. The coveted shovel, which may have gone to Talbot had Johnson stayed within the confines of his crease in the waning seconds of the game, stood propped up against his locker stall as he fielded questions from giddy reporters in his post-game scrum.

Will you take a knockout over a shutout?

“I’ll take it, but I didn’t intend to hurt anyone,” he said. “(Fighting another goalie) is something I’ve kind of wanted to do for awhile.”
PIT: Tyler Kennedy (8), Chris Kunitz (18), Max Talbot (6)
Assists: PIT: Paul Martin 2 (16), Zbynek Michalek (9), Pascal Dupuis (12), Craig Adams (7)

PIT: Brent Johnson (W) – 20 shots, 20 saves; Marc-Andre Fleury 0 shots, 0 saves
NYI: Rick Dipietro (L) 21 shots, 19 saves; Kevin Poulin 1 shot, 1 save

PIT: 1-5; NYI: 0-5

Penguins (32-15-4); Islanders (16-27-7)

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