PITTSBURGH — Bryan Rust and Brandon Tanev spotted the Pittsburgh Penguins a two-goal lead in the first period, then Tanev and the Penguins power-play added the next two goals as the Penguins again outskated and pressed their opponent. However, New York scored a pair of goals in the final five minutes to force overtime.
In OT, the Islanders possessed the puck nearly the entire period before Brock Nelson tucked home his own rebound following a great play by Beauvillier to force a turnover in the Penguins zone. It was the Islanders fifteenth consecutive game with a point. They’ve gone 14-0-1 in that time.
The Penguins nearly led early in the first period when Zach Aston-Reese stuffed a wrap-around shot into the net. The red light flashed and the Penguins celebrated but upon a coach’s challenged Rust was offside and the goal was nullified.
Rust atoned for his lifted skate over the blue line midway through the first period. The Penguins power play converted their second goal in two games when Rust (7) snapped a wrist shot from the left-wing circle over New York goalie Semyon Varlamov’s glove. Rust has 11 (7g, 4a) points in 10 games this season. He also led all players with five shots on goal.
The Penguins offensive grinding continued in the first period. Penguins defenseman John Marino jumped forward to blast the puck back towards the net. Brandon Tanev (4) used the heel of his stick to deflect it past Varlamov for a two-goal Penguins lead.
However, the first half of the second period wasn’t so friendly to the Penguins. They began to give up odd-man breaks and scoring chances.
Early in the second period, Penguins centerman Jared McCann’s failed clearing attempt discombobulated the Penguins defense and New York sniper Anthony Beauvillier (7) was left open in the slot and went bar down over Penguins goalie Matt Murray. It was Beauvillier’s fifth goal in three games.
A few minutes later, a Penguins neutral zone turnover launched the New York rush. Brock Nelson charged towards the net and deflected Nick Leddy’s point-blast. Again, the Penguins were victimized by a trailer left open as the Penguins scrambled to cover the zone.
However, the Penguins wouldn’t let their sandpaper nemesis get the upper hand. Later in the second period, Tanev again showed the speed and compete level which has propelled him and his lines in his short Penguins tenure. Tanev, who signed a maligned six-year deal on July 1, made a few more friends when battled for his perch in front of the net then jumped on a loose puck behind the net. Tanev (5) attempted another wrap-around and banked it off New York defenseman Adam Pelech’s skate for another Penguins lead.
Jake Guentzel added what should have been enough for the Penguins with a third period power-play goal. After Joseph Blandisi drew a tripping call in the defensive zone, the Penguins executed a nearly perfect zone entry with a trailer. Outside the zone, Evgeni Malkin made a cross-ice pass to Alex Galchenyuk at the blue line ang Galchenyuk simply touched it ahead. Guentzel streaked into the zone on the right-wing and quickly realized he was not going to be covered, so he flipped the puck to his forehand and quickly zipped it past Varlamov.
However, with five minutes remaining, New York forward Justin Bailey (7) scored just as the Penguins killed a tripping call to Rust. Then, with the goalie pulled, defenseman Ryan Pullock beat Matt Murray through a screen to tie the game.
“The third goal was the killer,” said head coach Mike Sullivan.
You didn’t think a Penguins, New York game would be easy, did you? For the second time in 12 days, the team which trailed by multiple goals tied the game in the third period. On Nov. 7, the Penguins trailed 3-0, before they won 4-3 in OT.
Penguins goalie Matt Murray made several high-profile first period saves and stopped 33 of 37 shots in regulation. Varlamov stopped only 27 of 31 shots before OT.
“I didn’t think we were very good in overtime. Our attention to detail was brutal,” Sullivan said.