PITTSBURGH – Pascal Dupuis scored twice, Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves, and the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins opened the playoffs with a 5-0 romp over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.
Beau Bennett, Kris Letang and Tanner Glass also scored for the Penguins, who had no trouble against the upstart Islanders even with star Sidney Crosby sidelined by a broken jaw.
Indeed, Pittsburgh hardly needed its captain to continue its mastery of the Islanders, who made their first playoff appearance since 2007.
Fleury earned his sixth career playoff shutout.
The Penguins, the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, beat Evgeni Nabokov four times in the game’s first 22 minutes, including goals by Letang and Dupuis 32 seconds apart early in the second period to send Nabokov to the bench after he stopped just 11 shots.
Kevin Poulin came on in relief and surrendered a soft goal to Glass.
Game 2 is slated for Friday in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins hoped to have Crosby back for the first time since he was struck in the face by a puck on March 30 in a game against the Islanders.
Doctors, however, declined to clear the NHL’s third-leading scorer, feeling his jaw wasn’t healed enough for contact.
Considering the way his teammates picked up the slack on the first night of what the Penguins hope is a two-month march to the Stanley Cup, there is no need to rush Crosby back.
THE CHICAGO Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins are heading outside again. Just not on New Year’s Day this time.
The NHL announced that the Blackhawks and Penguins will play at Soldier Field next year. The regular-season game between two of the league’s marquee franchises will be played on Saturday night, March 1.
The Blackhawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field on Jan. 1, 2009, as part of the Winter Classic series.
Some 40,818 fans attended the game at the summer home of the Chicago Cubs.