PITTSBURGH –It was 90 seconds the start of which electrified the home crowd but the end of which likely sunk the Pittsburgh Penguins season. And maybe more. New York scored a pair of goals immediately after the Penguins scored the first goal of the game and the Penguins lost. Again. Or more specifically, the New York Islanders won, 4-1.
The Penguins trail in the best of seven game series 3-0. The party is almost over.
Penguins fourth line grinder Garrett Wilson scored his first career playoff goal with a reaching deflection of Justin Schultz’ shot from the point. The puck bounced off the ice, under New York goalie Robin Lehner and into the net. The Penguins had just their second lead of the series and the PPG crowd which cranked the volume to level 10 celebrated.
The Penguins apparently also celebrated a little too long. On the following shift, New York quickly generated several chances. The Penguins grew disorganized and New York forward Jordan Eberle (3) found the small space above Penguins goalie Matt Murray’s shoulder and the crossbar.
One minute later, New York struck again and disbelief engulfed the Penguins and 18,00 fans.
Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz pinched forward at center ice after New York swarmed Sidney Crosby. Brock Nelson (2) buried the resulting two-on-one.
Excitement turned to angst in less time than NBC could air two pharmaceutical ads with a beer spot chaser.
The Penguins lead lasted exactly 28 seconds and they have led for only 4:22 in the series.
The teams traded chances and near misses through the second period. Penguins forward Jared McCann’s wrist shot bounced off Lehner but landed on top of the net, not in it. New York defenseman Ryan Pulock used the five-on-three power play space to blast a shot past Murray but off the post. And Sidney Crosby’s shot with a mostly open net hit Pulock’s skate.
The anticipation and emotion of the Pittsburgh crowd began to turn to boos as the Penguins missed opportunities.
Leo Komarov (1) was left wide open midway through the third period and snapped the puck into the net from the right wing.
The Penguins never got closer.
“It’s not over. It’s not over,” Penguins defenseman Jack Johnson said.