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Penguins 4, Islanders 3 (OT): Islanders fail to close out another game against this team

Seems like every time the Islanders take a lead against the Penguins, PIttsburgh finds a way to steal it.

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders
Another frustrating loss to Pittsburgh.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been kryptonite to the New York Islanders this season. Once again, the Islanders held a lead against the Penguins. And once again, they lost in overtime.

The Islanders took a 2–0 lead early in the second period, and in a span of seconds let the Penguins tie it. They took a 3–2 lead into the third period, and within seconds of the period opening, let the Penguins tie it.

Including the game-winner, Kris Letang scored his third and fourth goals of the season, all of which have come against the Islanders.

Lineup Notes

Michael Dal Colle came off IR today and rejoined the lineup, taking the left wing next to Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom.

Cal Clutterbuck, dinged up in the first period of Thursday’s game against the Bruins, sat out tonight. Leo Komarov moved down to take his spot on the fourth line.

Semyon Varlamov grabbed the net.

[Game Sum | Event Sum | NHL Gamecenter | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

First Period: A Promising Start

Mathew Barzal high-sticked Evgeni Malkin early in the game, leading to the Penguins’ first power play. Josh Bailey had a beautiful chance shorthanded but Tristan Jarry spread wide to stop him. The Islanders killed it off, though, without conceding a shot-on-goal.

The Isles earned another chance working the puck around the zone after the kill. Barzal got it to Nick Leddy for a one-timer. Jarry made the save but the rebound popped out to the side of the net where Jordan Eberle set up shop. The puck was just out of his reach, sadly.

Adam Pelech took yet another minor this season, giving the Pens their second power play of the first period. New York killed that off and then received their own man advantage when Cody Ceci interfered with Anders Lee near the benches.

On that power play, the Islanders took a 1–0 lead. Leddy passed from the point to Wahlstrom at the top of the left face-off circle. He skated and circled before shooting a pass through a maze of sticks. The puck just missed Pageau’s stick before clipping Brock Nelson’s, ricocheting to the top of the net.

Oh man, how their power play is clicking right now. Unfortunately, as is so often the case with the Islanders, that would be their only power play of the night. They carried a 1–0 lead into the intermission.

Second Period: A Promising Finish

The blue-and-orange continued the momentum from the end of the first and got a bit of a break to extend their lead. Barzal skated around the top of the zone looking for a play and, finding none, took it himself. He cruised in and tried to pass to the middle, but the puck tipped off the stick of John Marino and into the short side of the goal.

Not long after the goal, Wahlstrom took a boarding penalty on a questionable hit against Teddy Blueger. It was a quick play, but he faced numbers. The Penguins’ power play received a freebie in only six seconds, as Varlamov caught an edge and fell backward as he skated to the top of his crease. Sidney Crosby wasn’t missing an empty net.

Pittsburgh quickly tied the game on the next shift. They rushed into the offensive zone and Varlamov, clearly shaken from his fall, went down way too early and hardly moved as Letang’s shot passed him.

Perhaps feeling embarrassed, the Islanders came out a little more fired up after that second Pittsburgh goal. The fourth line kept the puck in deep but failed to put a shot on net. When the puck went back the other way, however, Barzal took another penalty, this time for cross-checking Brandon Tanev.

On the kill, Pageau and Komarov escaped on a two-on-one. Jarry stopped the shot but the puck quickly came back his way. Pageau dug the puck out from the corner and flipped it back to Bailey all alone down low. But Jarry stoned him point-blank.

Barry Trotz reunited the second line that carried the Islanders through the playoffs this summer and it paid off handsomely. Nelson at the point took the puck from Ryan Pulock and hit Anthony Beauviller at the bottom of the same-side face-off circle. Beauvillier located Bailey in the slot and Bailey one-timed it as he fell to his knees to retake the lead 3–2.

The Isles wanted badly to pad their lead following the third goal. Following a strong shift from the new third line of Dal Colle, Pageau, and Wahlstrom, the Nelson line—on their first shift after scoring—appeared shot out of a cannon. Beauvillier, in particular, was spectacular down low and behind the net, fighting to keep the puck alive.

Also, the fourth line had a great chance off the forecheck. Birthday boy Casey Cizikas, from his knees, got the puck to Pelech flying in alone from the blue line. Jarry made the initial save and chaos ensued. Everybody whacked at the puck and it bounced around before Jarry covered it. On the final shift of the period, Anders Lee fired a shot from the wing that deflected on its way to hitting the post.

Third Period: So Much for That

New York’s failure to add to their lead in their late second period flurry proved costly. Off the first face-off of the period, Barzal put a pass through Pelech’s legs and it went the other way on a two-on-one. Pulock played the puck and left Jared McCann with plenty of room. McCann beat Varlamov with ease.

Shortly after the tying goal, Scott Mayfield appeared hurt when Kevin Lafferty wrapped his leg around Mayfield’s. But he tested out the legs and took his next shift, thankfully.

The Penguins gained some energy from tying the game, just as they did after knotting the score in the second period. The puck was theirs for most of the third period. The Islanders could not keep up the pace.

Pageau high-sticked Letang apparently hard enough that the officials stopped play. The Isles killed it off, at least. But it was Pittsburgh’s fifth power play of the game.

The Pens nearly took the game in regulation when Pulock misplayed a two-on-two, leaving Bryan Rust all alone, but the Pittsburgh forward threw the puck over the net. To overtime we went, unfortunately.

Overtime: Predictable

Leddy and Beauvillier had a two-on-one on their first try but Leddy’s saucer pass missed Beauvillier, who was defended by Crosby. I think Eberle from the wall put a shot off the post. But other than that, the Islanders never really threatened.

Instead, they settled on their usual try-to-play-keep-away-until-they-inevitably-lose strategy. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what happened. In the waning seconds of overtime, after the Penguins recovered the puck in their zone, Letang led a rush the other way. He lined up a floater through Pageau’s legs and Varlamov slid in the opposite direction of the puck. Game over.

Notes and Thoughts

  • Tonight was the first time in a while that I got really angry about a game. Of course, I always hate the Penguins. But with the way they have been stealing games from the Isles this season, especially past regulation, they have reignited the fire in my veins. And now, peeking at the standings just makes my blood boil.
  • On a similarly infuriating note, the Islanders absolutely suck in overtime. All they ever do is try to hold the puck as long as they can—that is literally the strategy, as Barzal hinted in the post-game—and it has not worked ONCE. They are 0–4 in extra time this season. I think it might be time to try a new overtime strategy; one that actually involves putting the puck at least somewhat near the opposing goal.
  • Varlamov never truly regained his form after his tumble on the first goal. The second goal reflected how much it got to him. And while he played decently the rest of the way, he left a lot of rebounds that, when he is on his game, he does not leave. Hopefully, he did not tweak something.

Up Next

These two teams will do it again tomorrow. It will be a 5:00 p.m. ET start, rather than the typical 7:00 p.m. Sunday games, I suppose. Regulation win? Please?