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Tough night for Isles in 6-3 loss to Pittsburgh

David Ullstrom. Photo by: Stacy Podelski

A six game point streak was snapped for the New York Islanders (9-12-6) in their 6-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins(17-9-4) in hockey action on Saturday night.  New York had a 4-0-2 streak in their past six games, but gave up four unanswered goals to the pesky Penguins.

The Isles had a ton of momentum in the first period, crashing the Pittsburgh cage with a flurry of shots and bodies. Thanks to their effort New York was rewarded with a 1-0 lead thanks to a wicked wrister by rookie David Ullstrom (2), sending a rocket of a shot to the puck top-shelf of the Penguins cage at the 4:04 mark.

New York’s blueline continued to contribute to their offense at 12:16, when Milan Jurcina (2) tallied a slap shot for a 2-0 lead. The goal for Jurcina is the blueliners’ second in three games, along with back-to-back games where the Isles defense contributed to the scoring for the Isles.

The pesky Penguins cut into the Isles lead when Steve Sullivan (5) recorded a snap shot at 14:28 on a nice one-timer by teammates Joey Vitale (5) and Matt Niskanen (7).  Pittsburgh was minus their two All-Stars Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal in Saturday night’s game, but still proved to be a very dangerous team.

Pittsburgh is still dangerous thanks to James Neal (17) who recorded two goals in gaining the vital two points from the night’s game. Neal closed out the first period of play with his first goal in the game at the 19:31 mark on a snap shot, which was assisted by Evgeni Malkin (17). That goal for the Penguins tied the game up at 2-2, as the horn sounded to end the first period of play.

Kyle Okposo (4) gave the Isles the 3-2 lead on a top-shelf shot at the 2:54 mark of the second period. Just when the Isles regained the momentum in the game, a tough call on defenseman Travis Hamonic turned the tide in the favor of the visiting team.

It was with 7:35 on the scoreboard, when it seemed as if Hamonic had hit Pittsburgh blueliner Brooks Orpik with an elbow to the face.  After further review though, it was in fact the stick of the Penguins blueliner that made contact, not the Isles defenseman.

“I’ve watched it numerous times, and that’s a play where I probably wouldn’t even get credit for the hit,” Hamonic said after the game. “You watch the play and I skate by and it’s minimal contact with the opposing player. He hits himself in the forehead with his own stick. He goes down and he’s bleeding. The next thing you know, it is a five-minute major, and you are kicked out of the game. That is a tough call to make in those circumstances.”

It was in fact a tough call, as the Penguins regained the momentum thanks to a power play goal by James Neal at the 8:44 mark.  For Neal the winger now leads the NHL in power play goals with nine thus far this season, which also tied things up at 3-3.

“The game certainly seemed to change after that call,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. “I thought we were playing pretty good up until that point. Obviously they got the two man advantage, then they had that power play for an extended period of time, it just seemed after that we were on our heels for the rest of the night.”

Pittsburgh poured in the scoring; as Pascal Dupuis (9) bent one in a la David Beckham at the 15:58 mark…the Penguins took the lead and just kept adding on as Matt Cooke (7) and Paul Martin (1) eventually both scored to ice the Pittsburgh victory.

Now the Islanders are left looking for answers again, after playing a strong stretch of hockey for the past couple of weeks. The team will have two days off before traveling to Montreal to take on the Canadiens. The game between the Isles and Habs is scheduled to air on the MSG Plus Two network, with face-off slated for 7:30 p.m.

“You really can’t dwell on it we have a game on Tuesday, and we need to come out and start winning again,” said winger Matt Martin, who was playing in his 100thcareer NHL game.

Charity Note: Prior to the game the Islanders along with Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum played host to the 7th annual Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness walk. The PH association was named as the charity of the night by the team, as participants from the walk were able to purchase tickets to the game against the Penguins, as a part of the fundraising cause.

Click here to find out more about PH:

http://www.phassociation.org/

The original story was used for the Examiner.com site on 12/10/11, which can be seen by clicking here:

http://www.examiner.com/new-york-islanders-in-long-island/tough-night-for-isles-6-3-loss-to-pittsburgh

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