The New York Islanders deserved better, especially after the way they played in Game 6. But in the end, they just couldn't hold the Pittsburgh Penguins at bay. New York led for much of the third period, but with five minutes remaining in regulation, a Paul Martin slapshot ramped off Frans Nielsen's stick and past Evgeni Nabokov to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Then, seven minutes into the extra frame, Brooks Orpik powered another blast by Nabokov to send the Islanders home (or keep them there, I guess):
The only thing that hurts more than getting hit by Brooks Orpik: getting beat by him. That dude was nobody's overtime pick.
As I said, the Islanders deserved better. Back home in front of the Nassau faithful, they got the crowd into it early (or, at the very least, turned them up a little) by getting on the board early after John Tavares opened the scoring just five minutes in.
The Penguins would get that one back just two minutes later, as Jarome Iginla answered Tavares. But the Islanders just kept coming. By the end of the first, they were back in front.
New York controlled the play all night, outshooting Pittsburgh 38-21. Unfortunately, the Penguins got great goaltending from Tomas Vokoun, who made 35 saves in his second consecutive start and made a pretty strong argument for a third.
Pittsburgh now heads home for Round 2 versus the Ottawa Senators in a series that comes pre-loaded with a lot of big questions: Who starts in goal for Pittsburgh? Has Vokoun stolen the job going forward, or does the whole thing reset on the flight home?
Can the Penguins play the way they did versus the Islanders and get to the Eastern Conference Final? (No, probably not.)
And most importantly, with Matt Cooke and Erik Karlsson back on the same ice, will Don Brennan be writing another article about his package?