Anders Lee scored a power-play goal with under three minutes remaining, and the New York Islanders (4-4-2) found a way to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins (5-5-1), despite the Penguins’ decided advantage with the puck and scoring chances. New York goalie Semyon Varlamov was spectacular against the Penguins’ 17 high-danger scoring chances, and New York won 4-3 at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night.
Jordan Eberle scored two goals for New York. P-O Joseph scored his first NHL goal for the Penguins, and Evgeni Malkin sniped a beauty, too.
It looked good for the Penguins. The team began to click. The passes were tape to tape. The shots were pinpoint, and the breakouts were coordinated team activities. They piled on the scoring chances and opportunity, but a delay of game penalty by Teddy Blueger at 16:15 gave New York a power play and the game-winning goal.
Anders Lee (4) finished the rebound scramble for the GWG.
The Penguins had 90% of the scoring chances in the third period (9-1) until Teddy Blueger chipped the puck over the glass and earned a delay of game penalty with just under four minutes remaining.
Penguins winger Jake Guentzel scored early in the third period to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead. The Penguins’ top line with Sidney Crosby, Bryan Rust, and Guentzel swarmed the New York zone all evening. From 15 feet, Guentzel (4) picked his spot.
However, the Penguins third-period lead lasted just five minutes. Defenseman P-O Joseph followed d-partner Kris Letang behind the Penguins net, which left Cal Clutterbuck undefended. Clutterbuck (1) banged the garbage goal for a tie game.
The first period didn’t set any land speed record for firewagon hockey or offensive explosions. The teams were just getting warmed up after extended layoffs due to recent opponents unable to play because of COVID protocols. The game was played body-on-body, but it was the Penguins who made the first mistakes. Rookie Drew O’Connor failed to chip the puck into the offensive zone, and New York attacked.
Jordan Eberle (4) streaked past Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Cody Ceci and roofed a backhander past Tristan Jarry. Eberle has four goals in 10 games this season but didn’t score his fourth until game No. 32 last season.
P-O Joseph has been a super rookie to begin his Penguins career. The 21-year-old defenseman scored his first NHL goal later in the first period. Joseph sprung the Penguins rush, then joined it as the open trailer. Joseph (1) sniped the top corner over New York ‘tendy Semyon Varlamov.
“That was really a goal scorer’s goal,” Guentzel said of the tally on which he assisted. “…it was pretty cool to be a part of it.”
The Penguins created chances but couldn’t limit their mistakes later in the period. Eberle (5) was again left by a Penguins defenseman. This time it was Mike Matheson, and Eberle was alone in front of Jarry for the easy rebound goal.
The second period was a goaltending duel between Jarry and Varlamov as each made a few sparkling saves. Jarry’s were pretty stops in the first half of the period, and Varlamov had to hold the fort against several slick Penguins deflections in the second half.
The Penguins surged in the second period. However, it took 19 minutes and 45 seconds for the Penguins to tie the game. Evgeni Malkin (2) created a turnover on the backcheck, worked the give-and-go with Kasperi Kapanen, then buried the open chance with a high-glove wrister.
“I thought we really found our stride and playing the way we like to,” said Matheson who returned to the lineup after an 8 game absence. “(We were) generating a lot of chances. We’ll have to go back and learn from our mistakes…”
The Penguins had 58% of the even-strength shot attempts in the second period and a whopping 16 scoring chances, also according to NaturalStatTrick.com.
Varlamov was great. He stopped 28 of 31 shots. Jarry was also very good. He made 22 saves.
Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jared McCann left the game in the middle of the first period and did not return. There was not a flashpoint to McCann’s presumed injury. The Penguins and New York play again on Thursday.