Why Pittsburgh won: The Pens escaped by the skin of their teeth after being outplayed by the underdogs in Nassau for most of Game 6. Goaltending was again a central piece of the Pens win as Tomas Vokoun started his second in a row and held Pittsburgh in the game when they were down 2-1 and in danger of completely falling out of it.
Why New York lost: The Isles put together a near air-tight effort, but the problem was Pittsburgh seemed to scored every time the Islanders made a mistake, no matter how minor. All Frans Nielsen did wrong on the tying goal was have his stick in the lane and he directed it home. Great effort from the Islanders. They surprised a lot of people over this series.
Play of the game: Evgeni Malkin, who had a ho-hum game, kept the puck down low by blocking off the boards and Tyler Kennedy passed it back to Brooks Orpik, who, of all people, ended the series with his blast in OT.
1. John Tavares: The Islanders’ heart and soul was everywhere and helped the Islanders to dominate the faceoff dot by winning 67 percent of his draws. He gave the team a 1-0 lead and recorded three shots on net.
2. Tomas Vokoun: The Pens have to keep going to the veteran netminder because he’s doing exactly what they brought him in to do – pick up if Marc-Andre Fleury stumbled. He made 35 saves and put the Pens in the position to pull of the win.
3. Sidney Crosby: The Pens’ best skater was pushing even when the team was being outplayed. He assisted on Jarome Iginla’s goal that tied the game 1-1, but he created it himself.
What’s next: The Isles took some big strides forward this year and will hit the start of next season with a confidence only a team that reached, and challenged, in the playoffs can have. Their goaltending situation is in flux with Evgeni Nabokov as a pending unrestricted free agent, but there will be plenty of options for GM Garth Snow to choose from. The Pens move on despite being given a good run, and being outplayed at times, by the No. 8 seed. If Vokoun keeps playing as he is, they’ll have to ride him – if not, the road will get rocky. The Pens have more doubters than they started this post-season with now.
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