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Penguins Flip the Script, But Lose to Islanders, 5-4, in Overtime



The Pittsburgh Penguins know all about late-game comebacks, because they’ve seen lots of them this season.

Usually by the other team.

But Tuesday night, it was the Penguins, not their opponents, who rallied late in the third period to force overtime.

The extra period lasted just 57 seconds, though, before New York defenseman Adam Pelech scored from the slot to give the Islanders a 5-4 victory at PPG Paints Arena.

“I saw it the whole way,” Penguins goalie Alex Nedeljkovic said. “I just missed it.”

The Penguins (24-21-8) are 1-4-1 in their past six games.

Penguins defenseman Erik Karlsson assisted on their first goal to earn the 800th point of his career. He reached that milestone in 973 games, faster than all but eight defensemen in NHL history.

Evgeni Malkin, meanwhile, assisted on the Penguins’ fourth goal to snap a four-game streak without a point.

The Penguins got off to a sputtering start — New York had a 7-1 advantage in shots 6 1/2 minutes into the game — before putting together some solid shifts as the middle of the opening period approached.

Bryan Rust nearly put the Penguins in front at 12:15, as he burst down the left side then went hard to the net, but Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin was able to stop him.

The Penguins fared better about a half-minute later, as Marcus Pettersson beat Sorokin from inside the right dot at 12:48 for his third of the season. Rickard Rakell and Karlsson got the assists.

Pettersson turned up on the scoresheet again at 14:41, when he was assessed a tripping minor. Although New York generated good pressure while he was off, it was unable to score.

Reilly Smith had a chance to pad the Penguins’ advantage in the waning seconds of the period, as he was able to skate unimpeded down the left side, but Sorokin stopped his slap shot from the top of the circle.

New York tied the game on an excellent individual effort by Brock Nelson at 3:40 of the second. He carried the puck through the left circle, then cut inside of Pettersson before throwing a backhander past Nedelkjovic from the slot.

The Penguins’ power play had an opportunity to put them back in front when Islanders forward Mathew Barzal was called for hooking at 4:28.

New York entered the game with the NHL’s lowest-ranked penalty-kill, with a success rate of just 70.7 percent, but the Penguins mostly passed the puck around the perimeter and did not get a shot on Sorokin.

That was bad.

What followed immediately after Barzal’s penalty expired was worse.

He came out of the penalty box and collected the puck at the New York blue line, then charged into the Pittsburgh Penguins’ end and threw a shot over Nedeljkovic’s glove at 6:37 for a 2-1 lead.

The Penguins survived an interference minor on Rickard Rakell at 11:10, but five seconds after he returned, New York forward Simon Holmstrom knocked the puck away from Karlsson behind the goal line, then tucked a shot inside the right post to make it 3-1.

Lars Eller sliced New York’s lead in half at 16:35, beating Sorokin with a wrist shot from well above the right circle for his 10th. Eller’s shot appeared to deflect off New York defenseman Adam Pelech as it neared the net.

Assists went to Chad Ruhwedel and Ryan Graves, but the guy who made it possible was Smith, who set a good screen in front of Sorokin.

The Islanders challenged that the goal should have been disallowed because the Penguins had been guilty of a hand pass before Eller scored, but the video review went against New York.

That meant the Penguins were awarded a power play, but they again spent most of those two minutes overpassing the puck.

New York defenseman Mike Reilly was penalized for tripping 32.1 seconds before the intermission. Another two uneventful minutes followed.

Reilly restored the Islanders’ two-goal edge at 10:42 of the third, throwing a shot past Nedeljkovic from the top of the left circle.

That figured to be a potentially mortal blow, but the Penguins quickly countered with two goals in a span of 56 seconds.

Valtteri Puustinen got them within one at 12:06, punching in a Kris Letang rebound for his second of the season. Smith received the second assist.

Drew O’Connor made it 4-4 at 13:02, when his attempt to feed a puck to Pettersson, who was between the left circle and the crease, caromed off Islanders forward Anders Lee and into the net for his seventh for the final goal of regulation. Malkin got the only assist.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are scheduled to practice Wednesday at noon at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.