Islanders spoil Bylsma’s coaching debut

UNIONDALE, New York (Ticker) — A coaching change could not
shake the Pittsburgh Penguins out of their doldrums.

Frans Nielsen and Jeff Tambellini scored shootout goals Monday
as the New York Islanders handed the Penguins a 3-2 loss in Dan
Bylsma’s debut as interim coach.

Bylsma, the coach at the Penguins’ AHL affiliate in
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, replaced Michel Therrien, who was fired
Sunday, one day after Pittsburgh surrendered six unanswered
goals in a 6-2 loss at Toronto.

“This is an opportunity that you always look for and you want,”
Bylsma said. “It’s what I planned for. I just got in front of
the room today and was surprisingly comfortable.”

However, the Penguins struggled against the league-worst
Islanders, who snapped a five-game losing streak.

Despite the presence of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby – the
NHL’s top two scorers, Pittsburgh entered Monday’s game 10th in
the Eastern Conference, five points out of a playoff spot.

Malkin and Crosby failed to score in the shootout, sending the
Penguins to their second straight loss.

“I think with the little amount of time we had to make an
adjustment or get on the same page, systematic-wise, it was
expected that we would see a scramble out there,” Bylsma added.
“As the game went on, we got more in tune with the style we
wanted to play. The third period we were pretty aggressive.”

Pittsburgh tied the contest, 2-2, on Ryan Whitney’s power-play
goal with 2:53 left in the second period.

The Penguins could not break through in the third period despite
a 14-7 edge in shots. Overall, Pittsburgh out-shot New York,

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“I think it was a pretty solid 60 minutes,” New York coach Scott
Gordon said. “We had a lot of traffic through the net tonight.
I thought the amount of chances we generated was pretty good.”

After Nielsen, who also scored in regulation, successfully
opened the shootout for New York, Tambellini converted in
unconventional fashion. He pulled up in the slot and blasted a
20-footer past netminder Marc-Andre Fleury.

Malkin’s attempt went wide, leaving him a surprising 0-for-6 in
shootouts this season.

After Kyle Okposo also shot wide to keep the Penguins alive,
Crosby tried to deke Islanders goaltender Joey MacDonald with a
series of fakes. He was thwarted, however, as MacDonald made a
pad save to seal the win.

“I just tried to read him and make a move,” Crosby said.

MacDonald finished with 35 saves, including three in a wide-open

“You never know what he’s going to do,” MacDonald said of his
stop on Crosby in the shootout.

“He’s got that straight curve. He likes to slow down a little
bit and I think he went a little too slow and I got my pad on

Chris Campoli and Malkin traded goals in the first period before
Nielsen gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead with 6:34 left in the

“It’s still hockey,” said Fleury, who turned aside 28 shots.
“You still have to go out and play. Those were two points that
we needed.”