Everything turned in the third period, and it will be hotly debated among anyone who watched the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins were clinging to a one-goal lead early in the period when the New York Islanders opened pandora’s box. New York was shockingly awarded a power play after multiple New York cross-checks, punches, and punches from behind to the Penguins’ best players.
The Penguins were not angels, but they were on the wrong side of the Islanders’ third line mugging.
After every Islander’s tying goal, the Penguins attacked. In a hockey sense, at least. Brandon Tanev scored the biggest goal of his career with just over three minutes remaining, and the Penguins survived a WWE style battle royal 5-4 at the Nassau Coliseum. The Penguins lead the series, 2-1.
“It’s a period filled with emotions. It wasn’t our best period, but at the end of the day we found a way to win and that’s what matters,” Tanev said. “The guys came together as a group and we battled through adversity and got to win.”
Or, if you prefer, have won the best out of three falls. The steel cage match and ladder match will follow.
The game began with a Penguins fourth-line goal, and ended with one, too. Again the Penguins bottom line won their battle. After Tanev scored, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby dove to break up what would have been sure tying goal. And the Penguins survived to claim a 2-1 series lead. And reclaim home-ice advantage.
The game featured everything but Bobby the Brain Heenan tossing a chair into the ring behind the ref’s back. Or Paul Heyman, if you prefer.
“It was a bit of a rollercoaster tonight,” Carter said. “All hell kind of broke loose there, but we stuck with it. You give one up, you get right back on the horse and keep working.”
New York took the Penguins’ entire top line and their top defensive pair to the penalty box seven minutes into the third period by physically engaging in the “extra-curricular” activities after the whistle.
“The ref came over and said that Jake slashed somebody well after the scrum,” Sullivan said. “I think with the scrum, the penalties were even. Jake retaliated later on and that’s what they saw. And that’s why we ended up with the minor out of the circumstance.”
With Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Kris Letang, and Brian Dumoulin in the penalty box, New York tied the game with a power-play when Anthony Beauvillier poked the tying goal past Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry.
However, when the Islanders again went to the garbage hockey a minute later, they gave the Penguins a power play.
And Carter’s second goal of the game. On the power-play, Carter curled towards the net and roofed a point-blank wrister over Semyon Varlamov. 4-3.
However, it didn’t stick.
Cal Clutterbuck, who scored a big goal early in the third period, and banged on the Penguins all night, also tied the game at four.
In the first period, the Penguins silenced the New York crowd, which is counting down the days until the Nassau Coliseum is hosting flea markets and children’s shows in favor of the Islanders brand new arena next season.
“It’s a lively crowd. It’s a raucous building. There’ll be tons of energy in the building tonight. It’s an exciting place to play. I think our guys are excited to play here,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said Thursday morning. “You know, they’ve got a passionate fan base. And it’s one of those buildings that I think brings a there’s a lot of energy in it.”
The usually boisterous Long Island crowd was hushed when Zach Aston-Reese possibly deflected Kris Letang’s shot early in the first period. The Penguins fourth line cycle held the puck in the zone until they lit the lamp.
The goal was originally given to Letang. Then changed to Aston-Reese. Then back to Letang (1) in the first intermission.
It only seemed fitting the Penguins fourth line, which has quietly dominated the series by keeping the Islanders’ top line contained, got the goal regardless of whose name is on the stat sheet.
The hits, which have been a topic of discussion, were fairly even in the first period. The Islanders were outhitting the Penguins 118-84, had only a 14-11 advantage in the first period.
The New York faithful began to get into the game in the second period, and the Islanders tied the game early in the period. However, the Penguins scored a pair of goals later in the second period to cool the Fish Sticks.
The Penguins’ puck support was on display as Frederick Gaudreau earned his first-ever playoff assist to accompany his five career playoff goals. Gaudreau poked the puck ahead to Jeff Carter at center ice. Carter (2) rushed the New York zone and ripped a top-shelf wrister off the far post, stick side.
Carter has a point in each game in the series.
Late in the third period, Penguins winger Jason Zucker was heavy on the forecheck. Zucker first gained possession to set up an offensive sequence, then stole the puck to disrupt a New York breakout. Zucker (1) stole the puck and quickly snapped another high stick-side goal. 3-1.
New York scored the next two goals.
Islander fourth-liner Cal Clutterbuck took advantage when Penguins defenseman John Marino’s helmet was knocked off, and Marino raced to the bench, per NHL rules. Clutterbuck was uncovered and buried a rebound chance before the Penguins could replace Marino. 3-2.
Then the tying goal could have lived in infamy in the same building that the Valentine’s Massacre occurred when New York goons ambushed the Penguins on Feb. 11, 2011. In that game, there were 15 fighting majors and 346 penalty minutes.
Pittsburgh Penguins 3 Stars:
Edit: Special mention to Brandon Tanev, too.
3. John Marino
Marino was only credited with three shots on goal and no other attempts. That is incorrect scoring. Marino had no less than a handful of shots in the second period, alone.
He was good. He was physical.
2. Tristan Jarry
Jarry held back a wave of Islanders in the third period. The Islanders knocked him around but he continued stopping pucks.
1. Mr. Jeff Carter.
A pair of go-ahead goals. Carter’s go-ahead goal in the second seemed to put the Penguins on a good path. It did, but the Islanders went to the goon well to change the game.
His second goal gave the Penguins life in the third period when they appeared to be sitting ducks. Carter is a precious asset who gives the Penguins a real third-line center who can score.