The Pittsburgh Penguins humiliated themselves with a double-overtime loss at home in Game 5 on Monday night. They played one of their best games of the series while the New York Islanders played one of their worst games, yet the scoreboard showed otherwise. Pittsburgh is now on the brink of elimination as they head to New York for Wednesday night’s Game 6, and the odds aren’t in their favor.
Can’t Solve Sorokin
The Penguins outshot the Islanders 50-28 last night. They skated circles around New York and should have been up 5-0 by the end of the second period. But, they took their foot off the gas in the third period, and it cost them. The Islanders looked uninspired for most regulation time and didn’t even bother starting fights. Pittsburgh, who ranked second in the NHL with 3.45 goals-per-game in the regular season, had 50 shots last night and still lost the game 3-2. The offense had a good game, creating chances and controlling the puck, but could not bury their chances.
Evgeni Malkin looked like himself, recording one goal and many looks puck-handling through the Islanders’ defense. Bryan Rust notched his second goal of the playoffs in the second period. Jeff Carter had more than one chance in front of the net. Sidney Crosby was all over the ice on both sides. The effort was there, but Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin had other plans.
Sorokin is a puzzle the Penguins cannot figure out. He has held them to 1.66 goals per game, while their first-line has scored only three goals combined this series. Sorokin deserves all the credit in the world for standing on his head to keep the Islanders in the game. He was outstanding, but the Penguins should have been able to get a lot more past him. They didn’t get enough close-range shots and failed to reach the few rebounds he gave up.
Yes, Pittsburgh got shots on net; however, they wasted too much time trying to make the perfect play. They should have thrown every puck on net to get past Sorokin’s brick wall. When a goalie is playing that well, it’s the best way to get past them. As this series has shown, all you need is a lucky bounce.
Jarry’s Costly Mistakes
Tristan Jarry is the Penguins’ biggest liability in this series. He lost his team the game last night with one of many costly mishaps he’s had in this series. He has allowed an average of 2.85 goals per game average in this series, ranked 14th among the 21 goalies who have suited up in the playoffs. The Penguins would have won this series 4-1 if their goaltender could hold onto a lead, but the third-period collapses are proof that he is incapable of leading his team on a deep playoff run. The Islanders have scored eight third-period goals in what was supposed to be one-goal series.
Jarry’s teammates have done their part to give him the lead, but he hasn’t done his job of holding down the fort. Goaltending wins games in the playoffs and the Penguins don’t have it.
The Islanders had very little offensive zone time in Game 5, but they won because Jarry was not good enough. They have continued to find ways to hang around in the games and capitalize on the Penguins’ mistakes. Now, the odds are stacked against the Penguins in Game 6 on Long Island Wednesday night.
The Islanders have the momentum after winning the last two games, and Pittsburgh has been terrible on the road this season. New York has played a more physical game at home, which does not fair well for their opponents. They are fueled by their fans, who would love nothing more than an upset. The Coliseum will be a hostile environment, and if the Penguins can’t win the game in which they played their most dominant hockey of the series, how will they win on Wednesday?
Native Long Islander who graduated from St. John’s University in 2018. I have been an avid hockey fan since childhood when my dad decided to get NHL Network. I am excited to be covering the Penguins this season!