Nine days after a 3-0 loss at Pittsburgh that ended with starting goaltender Rick DiPietro crumpling to the ice following a fight, the Isles took out a season's worth of frustration by pounding the depleted Penguins 9-3 at the Nassau Coliseum on Friday night.
With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin among the half-dozen Pittsburgh regulars out of the lineup with injuries, they were an even match for the injury-riddled Islanders, who are on their fifth goalie and missing most of their top-six defensemen and several regular forwards. On this night, the Islanders dominated totally on the scoreboard and more than held their own in a game that saw 14 fighting majors, 21 misconducts and 346 penalty minutes.
"It was a pretty entertaining affair, and we'll take the two points," said Islanders center John Tavares, who had a goal and 3 assists. "I've never seen anything like that before. It just wouldn't stop. But it just shows that we'll do anything for each other."
"It was an emotional game," Moulson said. "They're a good team, even with some guys out. It was good for us, good for our confidence."
Asked if he'd ever seen anything like the waves of penalties, he replied, "Never."
"I thought we all stuck together," Moulson said. "It was one of those nights. A lot of guys stepped up."
The Penguins, who had blanked the Isles in their last two meetings, surrendered nine goals for the first time since a 9-0 loss at Tampa Bay on Nov. 8, 2003.
The Isles had just one regulation win in their last 16 meetings with the Penguins, but wasted little time getting on top. Travis Hamonic's slap shot through a screen beat Johnson at 8:51, and Jesse Joensuu capped a nice passing play by snapping home a shot from the slot at 12:52.
Johnson stopped Grabner on a penalty shot 33 seconds later, but after PA Parenteau's power-play goal made it 3-0, the speedy Grabner got even by scoring his 20th of the season at 19:12, sending the Isles off for the first intermission to a standing ovation and with a 4-0 lead.
After goals by Tavares and Micheal Haley 30 seconds apart gave the Isles a 6-0 lead 3:46 into the second period and sent Johnson to the bench in favor of Marc-Andre Fleury, the focus turned from scoring to scrapping. Three players on each side were ejected after an altercation at 5:21 that left the Penguins with a five-minute advantage -- one that they turned into power-play goals by Kris Letang and Jordan Staal.
But any dreams of a comeback the Penguins may have had ended when Moulson banged in a rebound at 13:31 and added a power-play goal at 17:50 for an 8-2 lead after two periods.
"The first half of the game was a hockey game, and the second was not," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "I certainly didn't anticipate the third period looking like that. At that point we were going out to play and play hard and not put our heads down and feel sorry for ourselves or anything else. I wasn't expecting quite what we got."
Johnson came back for the third period, but the bad feelings continued. Another brawl featured Johnson getting into a fight with Haley -- who skated down the ice to face him -- and four more players getting ejected.
"He just came down. I don't know. It's all a blur right now," Johnson said. "One of those things in hockey that just kind of happens. I feel responsible for some of the bad stuff that happened to us early on and this is one we have to put behind us."
The Penguins wound up with another five-minute advantage that resulted in a power-play goal by Tyler Kennedy. The penalties continued to pile up before Grabner finished the scoring with a shorthanded goal during the Penguins' 11th power play -- the goal was Grabner's 12th in 13 games.
Lost in all the penalties was the fact that Tavares, Moulson and Grabner all reached the 20-goal mark on the same night while Koskinen won for the second time in as many nights.
Moulson made it clear that while the Islanders know they won't be going to the playoffs, they have no intention of rolling over for anyone.
"We'll do whatever we have to do to win," he said. "It builds confidence to be able to put pucks in the back of the net, and when you feel good about yourself, it's easier to put the pucks in."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report