Penguins Can’t Hold Leads, Get Voted Off Island, 5-4
The Pittsburgh Penguins were reminded Friday night that mostly good isn’t always good enough.
They outplayed the New York Islanders for much of the evening at UBS Arena, as evidenced by their 45-28 edge in shots on goal, but that didn’t prevent the Penguins from losing to the New York Islanders, 5-4.
New York winger Zach Parise broke a 4-4 tie at 17:17 of the third period, when he drove to the net and tipped a Brock Nelson pass by Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith.
The goal initially was credited to Nelson, who scored New York’s second and fourth goals, presumably because the off-ice officials believed that his pass had been steered into the net by Penguins winger Bryan Rust.
The Penguins clearly were upset that no penalty was called when New York’s Kyle Palmieri appeared to drag down Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin near the right corner seconds before Parise got the game-winner.
New York’s victory allowed it to tie the Penguins for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff field, although the Penguins have four games-in-hand. The teams will meet again Monday at 7:08 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena.
The Penguins opened the game with an obvious urgency, beginning with Sidney Crosby getting a quality scoring chance from the slot about a half-minute after the opening faceoff.
They outshot New York, 17-8, during those 20 minutes, and the Islanders hung with them mostly because goalie Ilya Sorokin was sharp.
Crosby scored the only goal Sorokin allowed in the first when he pulled the puck out from under Sorokin in the crease and swept it across the goal line 12 minutes into the period for his 25th of the season. P.O Joseph and Chad Ruhwedel got the assists.
The Penguins were controlling play at that point — they were on a run that included eight unanswered shots — but a grievous giveaway by Marcus Pettersson allowed the Islanders to pull even at 13:56.
Pettersson had the puck behind his goal line and put it directly onto the stick of New York forward Mathew Barzal at the top of the right circle. Barzal fed it to Anders Lee, who was in front of the net, but Casey DeSmith stopped Lee’s shot.
DeSmith, who was on his back, reacted as if the puck was under him, but it actually was laying on his midsection. Lee saw it and backhanded it into the net to tie the game, 1-1.
Teddy Blueger had a chance to put the Penguins back in front with about 25 seconds to go in the period, but Sorokin stopped his attempt to convert a Drew O’Connor rebound.
Pittsburgh Penguins winger Brock McGinn missed about half of the first period after being struck in or near the throat at around 6:50. A Joseph shot hit Parise and caromed into McGinn, who went to the bench and, eventually, the locker room.
He returned to the game with three minutes to go before the intermission.
The Penguins opened the second period with another run of eight unanswered shots, and one of them ended up behind Sorokin.
Rickard Rakell got the goal at 3:53, when he deflected a Jake Guentzel pass by Sorokin, high on the stick side. Kris Letang received the second assist on the goal, Rakell’s 20th.
Jason Zucker put the Penguins up, 3-1, at 5:35, when he steered in a Joseph shot from the left point for his 14th of the season and first in nine games. Ruhwedel picked up his second assist of the game.
New York got the first power play of the game when Joseph was sent off for holding the stick at 10:08, but the Pittsburgh Penguins were able to kill the penalty.
A little more than two minutes after Joseph left the penalty box, however, Nelson got the Islanders within one when he carried the puck around the Penguins’ net, then banked a wraparound shot from the right post off DeSmith’s right leg and in at 14:26.
Although the Penguins failed to capitalize on a tripping minor assessed to Barzal at 16:44, Rakell gave them a 4-2 advantage when he took a backhand feed from Crosby and beat Sorokin from just below the hash marks. The second assist went to Pettersson.
That goal could have crushed the Islanders’ spirit, but with 27.1 seconds to go before the intermission, a Barzal shot hit Lee and went into the net behind DeSmith. It was the second goal of the night for Lee, who had managed just one point, an assist, in his previous five games.
Joseph picked up his second minor of the game at 4:20 of the third, and just 41 seconds later, Nelson hammered a slap shot past DeSmith from the top of the right circle to tie the game for the first time since it was 1-1.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, having completed a four-game road trip, will return home to face New Jersey Saturday at 5:38 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena.