Plenty of things went wrong for the Isles in their 5-0 series-opening loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, but none stood out more than the silencing of John Tavares.
New York’s leading scorer went pointless on the night and was held without a shot on goal — that said, head coach Jack Capuano wasn’t about to place that lack of productivity solely on Tavares.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise to John that they were hard on the puck and he didn’t get many chances,” Capuano told Newsday. “We always talk about playing as a unit of five.
“You can talk about John and how they played him, but the surrounding support from our club needs to be better for John to be better.”
The Penguins made a concerted effort to stay on Tavares throughout Game 1, and try to punish him physically.
At no time was this more evident than at the 9:26 mark of the second period, when Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang went out of his way to pop Tavares during a puck retrieval:
Pens winger Jussi Jokinen said Tavares can expect much of the same tonight.
“We need to do that same job all over (Friday),” he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Not give him any time, take all the space out of him and try not to let him play with the puck too much.”