The Pittsburgh Penguins (0-1) try for a split on the road against the scrappy New York Islanders (1-0) at Nassau Coliseum, tonight. The Penguins continued to gain advantage and momentum against the Islanders throughout Game 1 but could not gain the lead. Defensive miscues and bad ice bounces worked against the Penguins.
Game 1 went to overtime, which is not a new occurrence when the Penguins and Islanders meet in the postseason. The two teams last met in the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2013 and the Penguins won the series 4-2. Two of the four wins came in overtime. After a rugged and hard fought game on Wednesday, Game 2s are a reliable predictor regarding the eventual outcome.
The hockey adage states you’re not in trouble until you lose on home ice but the Penguins probably don’t want to return home for Game 3 down 2-0. Playing on Long Island hasn’t been easy. The Penguins own a 49-56-12 regular-season record at Nassau Coliseum and a 4-9 playoff mark there.
New York seeks a commanding 2-0 lead with a win tonight. Wednesday’s win proved they could handle a fast-paced Penguins attack and capitalize off mistakes in the same way they did in the regular season. Both the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins went 2-1-1 in their regular season series this year. New York won both ends of the home-and-home series in the first month of the season while Pittsburgh won both December meetings.
Matt Murray will start tonight for the Penguins despite the overtime loss in his previous game. Robin Lehner will start his second straight game despite sharing starts with Thomas Greiss during the regular season.
The Penguins were able to rally three times against the New York, but could never take the lead in a 4-3 OT loss in Game 1. New York started the game with more energy than the Penguins anticipated and scored just two minutes into the game. Jordan Eberle (1) scored his first career playoff goal off a rebound to give New York the early lead and shell shock the Penguins.
The goal came a few seconds after a goal was disallowed due to the play being offsides. The Penguins responded minutes later when Phil Kessel (1) scored on a shot that went five-hole. The Penguins had the momentum to end the period before Brock Nelson (1) scored on the power play to give New York a 2-1 lead to end the period. Evgeni Malkin scored the only goal in the second period to tie the game and sent both teams to the second intermission knotted at two.
Both teams started the third period with purpose, but it was New York who struck first. Nick Leddy (1) blasted a shot from the point that knuckled into the net to break the tie. New York appeared to have the lead locked down late, but with the Penguins goalie pulled, they could not hold it. Justin Schultz (1) ripped a shot from the point with under two minutes remaining. The goal sent the teams to overtime, but a late mistake by Kris Letang gave New York Game 1.
Despite the Penguins 44 shot effort, Robin Lehner made 41 saves to lead the way for NY. Matt Murray performed admirably in the loss while making 29 saves for the Penguins.
Justin Schultz enjoyed a two-point effort (1G-1A) in Game 1, giving him 27 career playoff points. That moved him into sole possession of fourth place on the team’s all-time playoff points list among defensemen, surpassing Paul Coffey.
Multiple outlets including The Athletic and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette are reporting Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson will return to the lineup tonight.
Andrew Ladd (Torn ACL. Out for Season)
Tanner Fritz (Upper Body)
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||12.5% (12th NHL)||80.0% (9th NHL)|
|New York Islanders||20.0% (8th NHL)||87.5% (4th NHL)|
Penguins -130 Over/Under -5.5, -20
Expected Penguins Lines
|Jared McCann||Sidney Crosby||Jake Guentzel|
|Bryan Rust||Evgeni Malkin||Phil Kessel|
|Dominik Simon||Nick Bjugstad||Patric Hornqvist|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Matt Cullen||Garrett Wilson|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Jack Johnson||Justin Schultz|
|Marcus Pettersson||Erik Gudbranson|