Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Like His Team, a Wing Who Kept Plugging Away

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Like His Team, a Wing Who Kept Plugging Away

Article excerpt

Colin McDonald personifies the resolve of the resurgent New York Islanders as much as any player on their young roster.

McDonald, 28, was a second-round pick by the Edmonton Oilers in 2003, but his road to his first Stanley Cup playoffs was tinged with disappointment after being let go by the Oilers and the Pittsburgh Penguins before signing with the Islanders last summer.

McDonald, a wing, had seven goals and 10 assists in 45 games this season after playing in only seven NHL games combined with Edmonton and Pittsburgh. He knows the mindset of the Penguins, the Islanders' first-round opponent starting Wednesday night, who finished atop the Eastern Conference, 17 points ahead of the Islanders.

"I know firsthand how strong the Penguins are top to bottom. That's why it was so hard for me to crack their lineup," McDonald said. "But if we play our game, we know we can play with any team in the league."

The eighth-seeded Islanders surprised many observers by securing their first playoff appearance since 2007 by going 11-2-4 in their last 17 games. They are led by the solid goaltending of Evgeni Nabokov, the quiet leadership of the veteran defensemen Mark Streit and Lubomir Visnovsky, and the offensive prowess of John Tavares and Matt Moulson.

The Islanders, trying to win their first playoff series since 1993, have enjoyed dramatic postseason success against the Penguins.

In 1975, they rallied from an 0-3 deficit in the quarterfinals to win Game 7, 1-0.

In 1982, in a deciding opening-round game, they rallied from a 3- 1 deficit late in the third period to tie the score before winning in overtime. The Islanders went on to win the third of four straight Stanley Cups.

In 1993, David Volek shocked the Penguins with an overtime winner in Game 7 of the quarterfinals to end Pittsburgh's back-to-back Stanley Cup run.

"The Islanders play the game as smart as any team in the league," said Mike Milbury, the Islanders' general manager from 1995 to 2006 and now an NHL analyst for NBC. …

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