After his poor performance in Game 4, Marc-Andrew Fleury was benched in favor of Goaltender Tomas Vokoun who filled the net tonight during Game 5 against the N.Y Islanders. This is the first time since 2001 that Fleury did not start in net for the Penguins during the playoffs. Vokoun managed to play an exceptional game, blocking all 31 shots for a shutout game. With a performance like tonight it would be smart to put Vokoun in net more often during these playoffs. The Pittsburgh Penguins sent a message tonight as they claimed the lead in their series 3-2, with a 4-0 shutout.
The Islanders came into Game 5 with a high confidence from their win in Game 4. With a scoreless first period this game looked like it would be decided in over time. The Islanders were determined to limit the scoring abilities of the Penguins; they were very physical with the Penguins star players. The Islanders outshot the Penguins (14-7) during the first period but it never amounted to much. Finally in the second period Tyler Kennedy got the puck into the net and the arena went wild as the Penguins opened up scoring late in the game. Resilient and pressing the Penguins follow-up with another goal by Douglas Murray 1:20 minutes later. The Penguins turned this game around in the second period; claiming Game 5 as theirs, attempting to take back this series. Sidney Crosby makes contact with the puck and scores, creating a 3-0 lead for the Penguins. At the end of the second period the Islanders and the Penguins were tied at 25 shots on goal. Early in the third period Letang scores furthering the lead for the Penguins 4-0. Regardless of the Islander goaltender swaps the team can not recover from their four point deficit.
The Islanders dominated the first 20 minutes of this game; they just did not have the control to make anything happen. After the Game 1 shutout it did not even appear that the Islanders would make it to Game 5 and now as Game 6 approaches it still appears to be anyone’s series. The Penguins now lead the series 3-2 with the pivotal Game 6 on Saturday; if the Penguins win they could face the Ottawa Senators in round 2. In order for the Penguins to make it to the second round they need to have consistent goaltending, improve 5-on-5 play, control their emotions and puck control. The Islanders are younger, relentless, physical and faster; the Penguins will have to work hard to win this series.