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UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma wouldn't tip his hand about whether or not he'll turn to Tomas Vokoun for Game 5 against the New York Islanders on Thursday, but listening to him speak after the game, the idea will be strongly considered.
The Islanders' 6-4 win Tuesday night tied the series 2-2 and caused the idea of switching from Marc-Andre Fleury to Vokoun to go from media speculation to what appears to be a no-brainer of a decision.
“Tomas Vokoun’s a guy that can step in and play," said Bylsma. "He’s had success and won hockey games against this team this year. We’re going to regroup and come back and come out for Game 5 with a new focus.”
The Islanders and Penguins traded goals for the first period and a half until Brandon Sutter followed Evgeni Malkin's goal to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead. Looking like they would head into the third period holding a one-goal lead, the Penguins again failed to stay in front when Kyle Okposo whipped a blind backhand shot toward goal and the puck banked off the side of the net and then Fleury to even the score:
“[I] tried to cover the bottom part, just went under my stick and my pad and bounced in,” said a dejected Fleury after the game.
As they did for the first two periods, the Penguins quickly answered the Islanders early in the third period when Pascal Dupuis helped regain the lead 41 seconds in. And again, the lead wasn't safe as the Islanders scored three times in the final frame to earn the Game 4 win.
Since his 26-save shutout in Game 1, Fleury has allowed 14 goals over three games, rekindling memories of last season's series against the Philadelphia Flyers where he let 26 goals by in six games.
Vokoun, who hasn't played since April 22, was 3-0 against the Islanders this season, with a 0.90 goals against average and .970 save percentage. There is no time to hope for adjustments to take effect for Bylsma and the Penguins. They've been outplayed at 5-on-5 during the series and the momentum has swung greatly in the Islanders' favor since Game 1.
Entering the series the Islanders had no pressure on them. They were the upstart No. 8 seed who, after years watching the playoffs, fought their way into the playoffs. Facing the Penguins, no one gave them a chance, but since overcoming a disaster of an opening game to the series, they've been the better team and have come out on top through all the chaos of the 31 combined goals through four games.
The wild swings of emotion haven't done the Penguins any favors and have taken them out of their gameplan that worked so well in Game 1.
"[That's] something we’ve got to cut loose right now,” said Bylsma.
“Winning cures that, and when you lose hockey games you’ve got to look for answers and reasons why.”
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
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