The Pittsburgh Penguins (11-7-1) keep winning, but they remain outside the East Division playoff seedings because the team is tied for the fewest wins in regulation in the division. Such was the case again on Saturday as the Penguins needed nearly all of the 65 minutes, including the five-minute overtime, to beat the New York Islanders 4-3 at the Nassau Coliseum.
The Penguins finish the second of back-to-backs in New York on Sunday. The puck drop is set for 5 p.m.
Kris Letang scored in the final seconds of overtime. It was his second goal of the game and his fourth goal of the season. All four have been against New York.
The Penguins were erratic in the second period and trailed 3-2, but for the ninth time this season, the cardiac kids rallied for a win. The Penguins lead the NHL with nine wins while trailing or tied after two.
However, the lack of regulation wins has the Penguins in fifth place and behind on the important tiebreaker, ROWs.
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said backup goalie Casey DeSmith will start in goal. DeSmith has not started a game since Feb. 11. This season, DeSmith is 4-1-0 and with a 2.84 GAA and .885.
The Islanders will likely turn to Ilya Sorokin, who is 1-2-1 with a 2.74 GAA and an .895 save percentage.
Penguins center Mark Jankowski was a scratch on Saturday night. Sullivan said Jankowski is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He was trucked by Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson on Thursday night. Jankowski returned to the game after time in the locker room.
Expected Penguins Lines & Special Teams
|Jake Guentzel||Sidney Crosby||Bryan Rust|
|Jason Zucker||Evgeni Malkin||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Jared McCann||Jeff Carter||Freddy Gaudreau|
|Zach Aston-Reese||Teddy Blueger||Brandon Tanev|
|Brian Dumoulin||Kris Letang|
|Mike Matheson||Cody Ceci|
|Marcus Pettersson||John Marino|
|Expected Islanders Lines|
|Leo Komarov||Mathew Barzal||Jordan Eberle|
|Anthony Beauvillier||Brock Nelson||Josh Bailey|
|Kyle Palmieri||J-G Pageau||Oliver Wahlstrom|
|Matt Martin||Casey Czikas||Cal Clutterbuck|
|Adam Pelech||Ryan Pulock|
|Nick Leddy||Scott Mayfield|
|Andy Greene||Noah Dobson|
|TEAM||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||23.7%, 4th NHL||77.4%, 27th NHL|
|New York Islanders||18.8%, 21st NHL||83.7%, 6th NHL|
What to Watch:
The Pittsburgh Penguins rallied in the third period…again. Will that team ever show up in the first period?
“They pushed really hard. Give them credit. They’re a good hockey team. They worked hard, and we didn’t match that in the last five or 10 minutes (of the second period),” Penguins winger Bryan Rust said. “Then we regrouped in the locker room. We knew we had to come out harder.”
The Penguins scored 18 seconds in the third period when Evgeni Malkin and Jared McCann converted a two-on-one. Malkin laid a pass on McCann’s stick in the slot, and McCann ripped a wrister past goalie Semyon Varlamov. McCann missed the last six games due to a lower-body injury.
The Penguins were able to play on the rush as the game opened up. Both teams activated their defense.
“They’re a good team. They’re stingy defensively, they’ve got numbers back all the time, and they don’t give up too many odd-man rushes,” Sullivan said. “They were more aggressive with their pinches (Saturday) than they’ve been…”
The Penguins defensemen will have a big impact on the game. Will the defensemen such as Mike Matheson and P.O. Joseph create more than they give up?
It’s also a backup goalie battle. Saves will be a biggie, too.
Pittsburgh Penguins Game Notes
D Juuso Riikola (14 consecutive, 14 total)
F Evan Rodrigues (12 consecutive, 12 total)
D Brian Dumoulin (11 consecutive, 11 total)
F Jason Zucker (2 consecutive, 2 total)
F Mark Jankowski (1 consecutive, 1 total)
2020-21 Total Regular-Season Man-Games Lost: 112
*The Penguins are 5-2 when tied after the second period and 4-5-1 when tied after two periods.
*The Penguins are 9-1-1 in one-goal games.
*The Penguins have points in 10 of their last 11 games against New York (7-1-3).
*The Penguins have won four straight against the Islanders.
*The Penguins’ seven wins after regulation is most in the NHL.
How to Watch:
TV: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+
Radio: 105.9 The X