The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the New York Islanders in game 2. The Penguins desperately clung to a one goal lead, even fending off an Islanders’ powerplay in the waning minutes of the game. Not only did the Penguins win, but they also showed glimpses of elite play throughout the game. If the Penguins continue to play as they did this game, the series could end in favor of Pittsburgh.
The First And Second Lines Shine
The first line put on an outstanding showing in the second game of the series. Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust continue to terrorize the opposition with their constant offensive threat. Bryan Rust improved tremendously in comparison to his performance in the first game as he scored the opening goal. Not only that, but the first line produced too many scoring chances to count. Crosby, Guentzel and Rust put up a combined 16 shots on goal. If they keep this up, they will be unstoppable.
The second line was not outshined by the first at all. Jeff Carter and Kasperi Kapanen prove once again to be invaluable acquisitions for Pittsburgh. Carter scored the Penguins’ second goal, with assists from Kapanen and left wing Jared McCann. Carter’s playoff experience from his tenure with the Los Angeles Kings combined with the speed and shooting of Kapanen and McCann has proved to be an overwhelming offensive threat.
Fearless And Physical Checking Line
Pittsburgh’s checking line was incredible all throughout the game. As a result, they were a key piece of their success. This line, consisting of Teddy Blueger, Brandon Tanev and Zach Aston-Reese, is more defensively-oriented. Because of this, they are utilized against the Islanders’ top scoring lines.
Blueger and Aston-Reese’s defensive play has been an incredible contributor to the team’s success. More often than not, either Blueger or Aston-Reese, or possibly both, are thrown out on the penalty kill. This is due to their keen positioning and vision in the defensive zone. While they are unlikely to put up the points that the rest of the offensive lines do, Blueger and Aston-Reese are unmatched in their defensive prowess and capabilities.
The third and possibly the most influential member of the checking line is none other than Brandon Tanev. A lot can be said about Tanev, but nobody will ever say he did not get in the face of the opposition. His physical play is beyond prevalent when he’s on the ice as he led Pittsburgh with six hits. Not only does Tanev get physical, but he is beyond fearless. For instance, in the second period Tanev nearly got a breakaway, but the puck was too far out for him to gain control. Instead of giving up on the play, Tanev dove and still got a shot on net. He then crashed head-first into the goal post, only to get up and participate in the scrum that ensued. This wild man will be a huge part of this playoff series.
Room For Improvement
The main area that needs improvement is the goaltending. Tristan Jarry played a fantastic game, stopping 37 of 38 shots. However, his glove-side still needs work. With five minutes left in the second period, Islanders’ forward Josh Bailey fired a backhand shot from the slot past Jarry’s glove. What was interesting about the goal is that Jarry didn’t try to raise his glove to stop the shot. Instead, he tried to raise his shoulder to block the puck which did not work. This could stem from a lack of confidence from the first game where all four goals the Islanders scored were on Jarry’s glove-side. Regardless, Jarry needs to figure out how he can improve.
Pittsburgh’s play all throughout the second game of the series was dominating. The first and second lines produced an incredible amount of offensive as both Rust and Carter scored. Furthermore, the checking line, specifically Tanev, played a massive role in the win. If goaltender Tristan Jarry can figure out his glove-side, Pittsburgh should have no problem winning this series.