The New York Islanders dropped the extra point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins that shames both teams’ power plays and left each team able to claim a 2-1-1 “winning” record vs. the other, thanks to the NHL’s “The People Demand a Winner” points regime.
In addition to the extra point, the Isles lost Cal Clutterbuck, Thomas Hickey and Jordan Eberle to injury late in the game.
First Period: Penalty-fest
The first period was dominated by special teams play. Fully 10 of the period’s 20 minutes were spent with one team shorthanded. The Islanders moved the puck well but didn’t much threaten on the first three power play opportunities.
Then the Penguins had their turn after Anders Lee’s double-minor for high-sticking put them up a man for the final four minutes of the period. Same result for them. Matt Martin even had a shorthanded break after a shot block, passing across to Brock Nelson who was (new-NHL) hooked a couple of times with no call.
Shots were 9-5 for the Isles in the first period, 7-3 at even strength.
More cagey, careful play from both teams to open the second period. Mathew Barzal had the best early chance blocked on a nice setup from Anthony Beauvillier. But those two would hook up again soon after for the game’s first goal.
After Barzal lost the puck during one of his offensive zonal orbits, he intercepted the Penguins’ counter breakout, creating an asymmetrical 3-on-2. From the blueline and the point of interception, Barzal fed Josh Bailey down at the bottom of the left wing faceoff circle. Bailey waited a beat to open a lane past Jamie Oleksiak, finding Beauvillier alone in the slot. Beauvillier drove his one-timer hard — essential to getting the puck past the glove of Casey DeSmith, who’d anticipated the pass but still had a long push across.
The Penguins had an opportunity to tie soon after when Thomas Hickey was sent to the box, but again the penalty kill was effective, and Robin Lehner’s pad stayed strong on a golden rebound chance for Sidney Crosby as the penalty expired.
The Islanders started to hold the better of the play for the latter third of the period. The Barzal-Bailey-Beauvillier connection very nearly hit pay dirt again with two minutes left, but Bailey’s feed to complete the triangle was just a bit too far for Beauvillier to make hay.
Moments later, Bailey then tipped a point shot that required a fantastic blocker save from DeSmith. But that was as close as they came to extending the lead.
Third Period: Equalized and bloody
The Penguins tied it up early in the third on a counterattack, Derick Brassard winning a scramble around Lehner to pop in the equalizers.
With the score tied 1-1, things were tight and low-event, but nearly pivoted when Barzal took a hooking penalty midway through the period.
About 90 seconds into the ensuing penalty kill, Thomas Hickey took a slapshot to the head that felled him and sent him off to the locker room. With the Islanders signaling to stop play, Kris Letang must’ve said or done something to enrage Cal Clutterbuck, who crosschecked Letang as the whistle stopped play. Letang responded in the same instant with a crosscheck up high.
That meant penalties for both Letang and Clutterbuck, though the latter took the worst of it and had to be helped to the locker room. Evgeni Malkin and Casey Cizikas avoided a similar fate when Malkin elbowed Cizikas in the head and Cizikas swung at Malkin, but both were encouraged to call it a penalty-less draw
After all that, DeSmith made two more alert saves on Josh Bailey in quick succession to keep it tied at 1-1.
After surviving a methodical overtime — and one more empty Islanders power play — the Pens converted two shootout tries while the Isles managed only one.
No update from Trotz on Clutterbuck or Eberle, who both left in the third. Would guess Ho-Sang will be sticking around with 2 RW potentially out.— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) December 11, 2018