Posted May 04, 2013 on AP on Fox
The New York Islanders said all the right things in the days leading up to their first-round playoff matchup against the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. Yes, they knew the odds of an upset in a No. 1 vs. No. 8 series were stacked heavily against them, and yes they were aware that the Penguins roster reads more like an All-Star game lineup than an everyday club. Still, the upstart Islanders declared they were ready and up to the daunting challenge ahead of them. Whether they truly believed will never be known, but make no mistake, their comeback victory in Game 2 in Pittsburgh gave them a jolt of positive energy they hope carries them through their first home playoff game in six years on Sunday. ''We've come in believing in ourselves all season long. Nothing has changed in that standpoint,'' star forward John Tavares said Saturday. New York was run over in a 5-0, series-opening loss on Wednesday and seemed primed to be routed again on Friday night when the Penguins scored twice in the first 3:19 and then grabbed a 3-1 lead just 18 seconds after the Islanders netted their first goal of the series. Sidney Crosby scored Pittsburgh's second and third goals in his return to the lineup after missing more than a month because of a broken jaw. However, no one could have predicted that the Penguins would be held off the scoreboard for the final 40 minutes of action. ''I missed two wide-open nets,'' Crosby said Saturday after the Penguins practiced at Nassau Coliseum. ''I don't know if we were shut down. I didn't feel like we were shut down, but at the end of the day we didn't put the puck in the net. We've got to find a way to do that if we want to win.'' It is only two games, and the series is tied 1-1, but there is a different feel now. Before the talk was how many games it would take for the Penguins to turn aside the Islanders, now the fight is on. That was totally clear when New York forward Kyle Okposo had the first fight of his NHL career. After teammate Matt Moulson was hit by Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen, Okposo came to his defense and bloodied Niskanen during the unexpected bout 4:58 into the second period. Just 14 seconds later, Colin McDonald scored to bring the Islanders within 3-2. Okposo would then score the winning goal with 7:37 left in the third period of New York's 4-3 victory. ''It was a turning point of the game for me,'' Islanders captain Mark Streit said of the fight. ''Moulson got hit, and he stepped in for him. It was his first fight and he did really well and he got everybody really pumped and got everybody going. ''After that we never looked back. He's a great leader on the team. He had a great game, scored the game-winner. It doesn't get any better than that.'' No one on the current Islanders roster played for the team during its last postseason appearance in 2007. So what lies in store will be a mystery to both clubs when the puck drops Sunday at the unusual start time of noon. ''It's been a while and we know the fans are going to be hungry. So are we,'' Tavares said. ''We've been waiting to play here. As old as this building is, I'm sure it can get pretty loud and be rocking.'' ''Ever since I've gotten here, no one has really given us much of an opportunity or believed we could do a whole lot. We're just used to the situation. We believe in ourselves a lot more than other people do. It's a great opportunity for us.'' Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma was a part of some exciting days in Nassau Coliseum when he was an Islanders assistant during the 2005-06 season. He was already warning his players on Saturday that they are in for a totally new experience, down to the part where there likely won't be the pockets of Penguins fans present that are usually in the arena for regular-season matchups. ''Our players have not seen this building the way it's going to be,'' Bylsma said. ''I got a little taste of it being here for Islanders-Rangers games and seeing the building full. It's going to be loud. It's going to be a pretty crazy building.'' Instead of trying to weather an onslaught, the Islanders will try to keep their emotions and excitement in check. New York has played seven straight road games, closing the regular season with a five-game trip, during which the Islanders secured their long-awaited playoff berth. ''We've been on the road so much lately, it's nice to get back,'' forward Josh Bailey said. ''We believed going in, and (Friday) night helps for the confidence. You certainly don't want to go down 0-2. Getting the split, coming home, being able to play in front of our home fans, we want to take advantage of that.'' The Islanders want their home to match the fired-up building they just left in Pennsylvania ''It was a great atmosphere in Pittsburgh,'' Streit said. ''You've got to love the road games in the playoffs. For us, playing at home ... a lot of guys have never been in the playoffs, the fans haven't seen us in the playoffs for a while, so everybody is really excited.''

Penguins Injury Update and Likely Lines for Game 3

Tribune Review Writer Rob Rossi Tweeted that James Neal left practice on Saturday after only 10 min. on the ice. Brooks Orpik was again absent from practice.     The Pittsburgh Penguins likely line combinations for Game 3 Sunday vs. the Islanders. Forwards Dupuis – Crosby – Iginla Kunitz – Malkin – Bennett Morrow – [...]

Tracking the Playoffs: Islanders vs. Penguins Game 3

One of the great things about the playoffs is the sense that anything can happen. It's an overstated narrative, but it's somewhat true when you think about it. Crazy things happen in a seven-game sample size (goalies standing on their heads, certain players going through a hot streak, etc.) and the heavily favored team doesn't always win. In this Pens/Isles series, the...

Series Even: Isles down Penguins 4-3

The New York Islanders knew their effort would have to be better to avoid a repeat performance in Game 1 when they were whitewashed in a 5-0 Penguins victory. Playing against Sidney Crosby looked like it was going to be an uphill battle ten minutes into the first period. But the Islanders settled down and chipped away at a 3-1 Pittsburgh lead to come back and win Game 2.The Penguins...

Kyle Okposo Becoming Major Player in Pens-Isles Series

By Christian Arnold (@CA_NYhockey) AP photo UNIONDALE, N.Y – Two games, two comebacks, and one common denominator; the play of Kyle Okposo. The 25-year-old winger has made quite the mark over the last two games against the Pittsburgh Penguins. On Friday his fight helped sparked the Islanders and his goal in the third period won the game for them. And despite loss Sunday, Okposo...

Isles' optimistic outlook takes hit with OT loss

The New York Islanders' rallying cry in their return to the postseason for the first time in six years is ''Believe.'' Even the most ardent of supporters might find that optimism difficult following a deflating home loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Buoyed by a split of the first two games of the first-round series in Pittsburgh, the Islanders came home to Nassau...

Isles return home for long-awaited playoff game

The New York Islanders said all the right things in the days leading up to their first-round playoff matchup against the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. Yes, they knew the odds of an upset in a No. 1 vs. No. 8 series were stacked heavily against them, and yes they were aware that the Penguins roster reads more like an All-Star game lineup than an everyday club. Still, the upstart...

Islanders spoil Crosby's return, even series

On Friday night, the New York Islanders won their first playoff game since 2007. Kyle Okposo’s first career playoff goal with 7:37 remaining lifted the New York Islanders to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.Matt Moulson, Colin McDonald and Matt Martin also scored for the Islanders, who spoiled Sidney Crosby’s comeback from a broken jaw by rallying from an early two...

Power play powers Pittsburgh Penguins to Game 3 victory

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Chris Kunitz scored a power-play goal 8:44 into overtime to allow the Pittsburgh Penguins to take as 5-4 victory from the New York Islanders in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series at Nassau Veterans Coliseum.This NHL playoff series defines why they play the games. Nobody in the world would have guessed that this series will provide...

Sidney Crosby buries goal three minutes into return from broken jaw

In his first game back from a broken jaw, Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby buried a goal against the New York Islanders.

Sidney Crosby Returning for Game 2 Against Islanders

PITTSBURGH — It’s game on for Sidney Crosby. The Penguins’ star says he will play Friday night in Game 2 of the playoff series with the New York Islanders after missing more than a month with a broken jaw. Crosby skated with usual linemates Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kuntiz on Friday morning and expects to be in the lineup as Pittsburgh tries to go up 2-0 in the best-of-seven...

Did Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick call out Sidney Crosby for taking a dive?

I might have to admit, that I agree with Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick on this one here. I thought it was a bad call. I also thought that Sidney Crosby went down really easy. The word embellishment was on the tip of my tongue as well, after I saw the play live. If I am not mistaken, they're kind of accusing Sidney Crosby of taking a bit of a dive there... Is that what others...

Enjoy Kyle Okposo vs Matt Niskanen

Isles Kyle Okposo turning point fight v Penguins Matt Niskanen last night. Fired up? Matt Moulson. And the game winner from Mr. Okposo. **Follow us on Twitter or Facebook.... Full story at Bob's Blitz ~

Dee Karl: Isles Can Beat the Pens, But Not the Officials

When Dan Bylsma took a seat at the table in front of the Stanley Cup back-drop, the microphones had all been tested. However, something went wrong and when he went to answer his first post game question, a long, loud electronic screech filled the 60,000 square foot exhibit hall and it reverberated to your bones. “That was like the building tonight.” the deadpan Bylsma...

Likely Pittsburgh Penguins & New York Islanders Lines for Game Two

Likely Pens lines from Kunitz - Crosby - Dupuis Bennett - Malkin - Iginla Morrow - Sutter - Cooke Glass - Jokinen - Adams Martin - Engelland Murray - Niskanen Eaton - Letang Fleury Likely Isles lines from Arthur Staple on Twitter and from Daily Faceoff: Moulson - Tavares...
NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.