The New York Islanders fell to 5-8-4 and 5-4-3 at home after a 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The game swung on a pendulum -- mostly titled against the Islanders, though they had a big push of their own in the second period — but an overtime home loss seemed like the inevitable best-of-worst case scenarios.
Kris Letang scored the winner at 1:24. The Isles now head on a tough Western road trip during the week of U.S. Thanksgiving, and they are 0-4-1 away from Barclays Center so far this year.
First Period: Ah, we know this way
The Islanders started out strong, refreshingly so, with a couple of good early shifts led by the new crash-crash line with Anthony Beauvillier — in his first NHL game at center — between Anders Lee and Jason Chimera.
But that was a blip. The Isles were soon on their heels, in particular during two power plays, and ended up being outshot in the opening period 16-5.
During which, well, make that nine straight games for goals conceded on the penalty kill. Not that it softens that blow, but the Islanders were on the PK way too often tonight, and often for frustratingly soft calls.
However, on this night the Isles got a power play goal too! One that helped them equalize early in the second period.
But first, Sidney Crosby’s goal opened scoring 15 minutes into the first period when he spotted a fortunate carom that no on else did. It was a wide-angle shot, but Jaroslav Halak was still searching for the rebound and only Thomas Hickey located it in time to at least attempt a diving shot block.
2nd Period: Then it was the other way
The second period was a stark contrast, and the Islanders had two goals to properly reward their efforts while outshooting the Pens 11-4.
Brock Nelson scored on a wicked wrister from the high slot after a power play zone entry by John Tavares. Who knows if anything productive would’ve happened if they’d kept possession around the zone for a while, but the overlapping entry was good stuff, with Ryan Strome sending the horizontal seam pass to set up Nelson.
That came at 1:51, and Beauvillier gave the Isles a 2-1 lead just over 40 seconds later. He read a bobbled reception by Kris Letang at the Penguins blueline to give himself a breakaway, where he deked and then beat Matt Murray, Backhand of Judgment-style.
But we can’t have nice things this season, so Trevor Daley tied it at 13:55 with a brilliant shot just inside the post after Phil Kessel sent a blind pass to the high slot from behind the net.
3rd Period: Oh, back to that way
The Islanders came out in the third period looking like the team of old, er, recent vintage: Sloppy, turnovers, vulnerable to speedy counterattack and long-range Penguins puck movement. They were lucky not be down one or two goals before the third period was three minutes old.
Things settled down after that — not without another penalty kill, of course, with Halak coming up big and Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck continuing a doggedly determined night on the PK.
But with about four minutes left the Penguins made a mad push to get the go-ahead goal, and I couldn’t count the number of heart-stopping near-misses and caroms they created with their Operation: Create Chaos attack.
Yet they survived, finishing that period outshot 14-5 and 34-21 overall in regulation.
Overtime: The Inevitable
The Isles never really threatened in overtime, and the Penguins cashed in on the first sustained attack, taking advantage of the offensive zone possession to get a change and get the winner.
Halak had a goalie interference shout on the play since Evgeni Malkin had been standing in his crease and Halak was tangled with him before the goal, but by the time Crosby’s muffed pass went over to Letang, Malkin was out of the way and Halak was as much responsible for having himself out of position.
Here Be Giants
As a follow-up to Anders Lee’s visit to Giants practice this week...a visit from his fellow Notre Dame alum:
Butch of the Night
“Well that’s just...are we playing ping pong here?”
>>MSG/Isles broadcaster Butch Goring on one of several soft penalty calls