After the awesome defeat of the Montreal Canadiens, the Islanders returned to Long Island with a ton of momentum. The Isles had won five of their last six games, and were finally beginning to inch out of the Atlantic Division's basement.
The return of Brendan Witt and Freddy Meyer helped to stock up the Islanders' defence, and the team was playing much smarter hockey then they were earlier in the year—especially in the third period, which had been the team's Achilles heel until their recent streak of exceptional play.
And in the first two periods of the game against Pittsburgh, New York dominated and continued to play like the great team we had been witnessing for the last couple of weeks. They had an early 2-0 lead, and were attacking the puck in the offensive zone.
When Bill Guerin scored the third goal, Pittsburgh pulled their goaltender Dany Sabourin and put in John Curry, who was stepping on NHL ice for the first time in his career.
This is when I thought that the Islanders were going to make this game a laugher, as they could easily score another goal or two off this rookie. But then with a minute left in the second period, the Pens scored.
This is when I said to myself, "uh oh, they better not blow it in the third."
And blow they did.
Crosby and Malkin seemed to be on the ice forever, and they destroyed the Islanders.
The Islanders couldn't get the puck out of their zone, and the reigning Eastern Conference Champs started scoring off Joey MacDonald left and right—tying the game, and eventually taking the lead 4-3.
In the final minute, the Islanders pulled Joey Mac from the net, but gave up the puck to Malkin, who scored the empty netter to give him a hat trick for the night.
This game frustrates me so much as a fan! Dare I say that I was a little cocky, thinking that we had the game locked up in the second period, only to have the memories of the Islanders many third-period collapses this year become very fresh in my head once again.
Why can't they just shut the door in the third period? What is wrong with this team!