Anybody who thought the Islanders couldn't top the heartbreak of Game Three was proven wrong last night after they were eliminated from the playoffs last night by the Pittsburgh Penguins on the heels of an overtime goal by Brooks Orpik. The whole game was pretty similar to how Game Three went where the Islanders vastly outplayed the Penguins in just about every area but goaltending and ended up taking the loss because of that. The only difference with this game was that the Penguins didn't need the help of their power play to catapult them in front. Instead, they were able to take advantage of a few costly mistakes by the Islander defense and got a couple of generous bounces on two of their goals.
At the end of the day, the blame for this loss is probably going to be put on the shoulders of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov and he can be noted as the scapegoat this series, there were a few other factors that contributed to the Islanders demise. The biggest one being at the other end of the crease in Tomas Vokoun. The Pittsburgh netminder may have let three goals get by him, but he helped carry his team out of numerous rough spots last night and his finest moment came in the second period where he stopped six Islander power play scoring chances. The Penguins gave Vokoun four goals in support but I think this series would have been heading for seven games without him because the Islanders dominated Pittsburgh for a good portion of last night's game and outchanced them 25-12 .
Vokoun's play kept Pittsburgh in the game and made each mistake that much more costly for the Islanders, because whenever you let a team like the Pens hang around, there is a good chance that they'll find the back of the net. That's just the way they've worked this series and that, along with Nabokov's shoddy goaltending, ended up winning them the game and the series. I feel that the Islanders deserved better because they outplayed Pittsburgh in four out of six games but they sort of played with fire with the penalties in Game Three and couldn't finish last night and these types of things can doom you in playoff games. It's unfortunately, but that's the playoffs work sometimes.
The Islanders shouldn't hang their heads too low because they mostly played some very entertaining hockey and really gave the Penguins a run for their money in a series that many expected to be a laugher after Game One. I think they would have had a better shot if Nabokov played anything close to the level of an NHL goalie, even if the Penguins finishing ability made him look a little worse than he usually is, because they really were the better team and gave it all they had last night.no comments