PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang scored a pair of first period goals, Phil Kessel scored a pair of second period goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins overcame the New York Islanders attempt to drown the life from the hockey game, coasting to an easy 6-2 win at PPG Paints Arena. Kessel also had a pair of assists as the win put the Penguins and Islanders in a third-place tie with the Islanders in Metro Division.
Letang’s first goal was a rip from the right wing circle. The Islanders again packed the low zone but both defensemen converged on Penguins center Derick Brassard. Letang used the mistake to take the open ice (6) and beat former Penguins goalie Tomas Greiss.
The second marker was a beautiful play but not the best goal Greiss has ever given up. Actually, it was a softie. The Penguins charged the Islanders at the blue line. Sidney Crosby and defenseman Brian Dumoulin charged the net which freed the top of the zone. Letang’s one-timer from 40 feet lit the lamp and the Penguins escaped the first period.
Kessel’s goals looked remarkably similar.
His first was the backbreaker, 12 minutes into the second period. The Penguins power play executed a beautiful tic-tac-toe; Jake Guentzel to Sidney Crosby to Kessel (11) just beyond the crease. Kessel tapped it in for a 4-1 lead and the game was over.
Kessel feasted on another quick dish from Crosby five minutes later. Off the wall, Crosby darted toward the net as Kessel circled it. Kessel appeared (12) on the back post in time to tap in his second.
Riley Sheahan scored his third goal in five games. Sheahan (4) swatted a rebound out of the air past Greiss.
The Penguins shorthanded woes continued. Last Saturday, head coach Mike Sullivan said coaches and players have “talked about it and talked about it and talked about it.” Another talk may be warranted. The Penguins second power play unit failed to come back on the play. When former Penguins forward Tom Kuhnhackl picked the puck from defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, Brock Nelson was uncovered in front of the net.
Nelson (10) slipped the puck through DeSmith’s five-hole.
The Islanders scored early in the third period. Anders Lee (11) immediately roofed a rebound over DeSmith.
Sidney Crosby did one of those unbelievable Crosby things later in the third period as Kessel and Crosby hooked up again. Except this time is was Crosby who lit the lamp. Kessel stormed the zone and dropped it to Crosby on the wall. From the goal line Crosby (15) unleashed a dead-eye shot over Islanders goalies Christopher Gibson.
The Penguins and the Islanders held the Islanders to only 11 shots through two periods. Greiss stopped 16 of 21 shots through two periods. Gibson relieved Greiss at the start of the third period.
The Islanders blitzed the Penguins early in the third period but could not sustain the pressure. DeSmith earned his eighth win (8-4-3) this season and 14th of his career.
Letang (2g), Guentzel (2a), Kessel (2g, 2a) and Crosby (1g, 2a) had multi-point games.