The teams combined for 29 shots on goal in the first period and carried on with that kind of uncharacteristic abandon the rest of the game. Ilya Sorokin bested his previous high with 43 saves, while Zach Parise and Josh Bailey scored a pair of goals each. Keeping the Penguins in it, Jake Guentzel also scored a pair; he has more goals in 2021-22 than both of those Islanders combined, with plenty to spare.
First Period: Parise’s 4th-quarter rebound continues
Smarting from a terrible night in St. Louis, the Isles came out strong and had some chances early, but the Penguins struck first. Their top line had the Isles hemmed in, and an initial shot was blocked in the slot, but Jake Guentzel picked up the rebound to put it past an outstretched Ilya Sorokin at 5:52.
Then Zach Parise decided to move up the NHL all-time leaderboard. The winger scored twice in a three-minute span in the middle of the period, giving the Isles a 2-1 lead and matching John LeClair and Rod Gilbert at 406 in a tie for 98th in career NHL regular season goals.
The first one was a nice rush and quick conversion of a long cross-ice pass from Mathew Barzal. Critically, Parise did not delay his release and got it upstairs over the shoulder of Casey DeSmith.
The second one was shorthanded, after a great sequence by the penalty killing unit. Adam Pelech was patient at the side of the Isles net and ultimately broke up the play, then moved up out of the zone to lead Zach Parise. Parise assessed the surroundings while J-G Pageau used a turbo boost of speed to fly up the right wing. Parise found him, Pageau went wide to draw DeSmith out and then fed Parise for the tap-in.
That’s some P-P magic right there.
In the final minute of the period, Josh Bailey added an insurance goal off a gift from the Penguins buckling under pressure. The Isles forecheck behind the net forced a rushed Teddy Blueger pass to the faceoff circle...where Bailey was waiting and buried it at 19:22 to make it 3-1.
Second Period: The lead disappears
The Penguins responded with purpose, mounting a second period where they tied it up and could’ve easily taken the lead but for Sorokin.
They got the first one early, at 3:46, from some guy who goes by Danton Heinen. That’s his 15th of the year, so he’s probably one of those Mark Donk deals.
Still, the Isles hung on to the one-goal lead for most of a period where they were outshot 19-7. But the dam finally broke again when Zdeno Chara, Noah Dobson and Barzal were stuck out there for a 2:27 long shift that ended, naturally, in an equalizer by Guentzel at 18:32.
Guentzel came around from behind the net, Dobson didn’t have enough gas to clear the front of the net, which forced Sorokin deep into the cage. Guentzel’s shot found its way through that traffic and dribbled over the line.
Oliver Wahlstrom, coincidentally or not, did not see the ice for the rest of the game.
Third Period: The refs get involved
The Islanders got the lead back early in the third off another gift from the Penguins defense. A hard dump-in was too hot to handle for Brian Dumoulin, and the puck hopped off his stick in the corner right to Josh Bailey in the low slot. Bailey made a quick move to the backhand for his second of the night to make it 4-3.
The Islanders had a few chances to build on that lead but couldn’t convert, which would soon cost them.
Ryan Pulock pounced as the Penguins turned it over behind the net and he took a feed from Anders Lee. He went backhand and, in the process of being stopped, had his feet taken out from under him by Kris Letang’s stick, which lodged into the gap in Pulock’s skate. Apparently that’s not a penalty.
Which was interesting, because while the Islanders stopped the resulting counterattack, they soon went on the penalty kill after a bewildering phantom call when Kasperi Kapanen stepped on the puck and wiped out in the vicinity of Anthony Beauvillier. With Barry Trotz, Beauvillier and several others showing that expression of “You gotta be kidding me, you know this will show up on your job eval, right?” the refs even conferred about the call and stuck to their very misaligned guns.
Beauvillier went to the box, and — do I even have to write it? — the Penguins scored just seconds into the power play to tie it at 4-4.
With the entire building emitting that unmistakable “you done F-d up” sound for the refs, they penalized the Penguins on the ensuing faceoff. It was a legit infraction — Brock McGinn took Casey Cizikas out with a chop at the draw — but it’s one they never call on faceoffs, which Mike Sullivan made clear with a mix of bemusement followed by a string of expletives.
The Islanders gave themselves several cross-slot chances on that power play but shot wide or were stopped by DeSmith. So it stayed 4-4 with 12 minutes to go.
As regulation wound down, the teams were increasingly careful. But my favorite moment of the night was Guentzel doing the “hey you’re close to my goalie and I’m going to do something about it” peacock-display after a whistle, but no one informed him that Palmieri is built like a bomb shelter. The Penguins winger pancaked himself to the ice, while Palmieri looked down with bemusement.
The overtime had a few semi-chances for both sides at 4-on-4 and then...another penalty. Beauvillier was whistled again — this time there was actual contact, so good for the refs there — and Sorokin made a couple of sweet stops. But the PK was good overall here. Pelech and Casey Cizikas even created some counterattack chances that burned time.
Part of me was hoping the Isles could continue their nearly perfectly inept shootout performance for the season since points no longer matter anyway. Instead, they insisted on getting their second shootout win and second shootout tally of the year.
Guentzel had a decent approach but did not get Sorokin to blink first, and the goalie stopped it with his glove. Parise had a decent move to get DeSmith to go down but the Penguins goalie recovered to glove the backhand deke.
Kyle Palmieri went in, drifting leftward across the slot, and sizzled the only shootout goal to DeSmith’s stickside. Crosby’s approach was completely unconvincing and Sorokin barely had to move to glove it.
Barzal had a chance to win it, but the Isles prefer their shootout wins to be minimalist. So after Barzal was stopped, the Pens had a chance to stay alive when Kris Letang tried...to do...something, but instead completely lost the puck, which slithered off sadly into the corner.
“Save not needed,” observed Brendan Burke.
These teams meet again in two days, this time in Pittsburgh on Thursday night.