The Pittsburgh Penguins had a chance to clinch a playoff berth with a regulation win over the New York Islanders at UBS Arena on Tuesday. However, the Penguins had to rally to force OT, thus did not clinch the franchise’s 16th consecutive Stanley Cup Playoffs appearance.
Overtime wasn’t enough. Not even an overtime power play could help the Penguins. The Islanders won 5-4 in the shootout when Kyle Palmieri scored the only shootout goal. The Penguins’ magic number is down to three.
Jake Guentzel had three points, seven shots, and six more attempts.
UPDATE: Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said both Bryan Rust and Evan Rodrigues left the game due to a non-COVID illness.
“It just seems like we’ve got some sort of a bug that’s going through our team. Guys are trying to play through it. These guys tried, but they couldn’t finish the game,” Sullivan said.
Head coach Mike Sullivan crafted his lineup for the game against the Islanders. Evgeni Malkin served the first of his four-game suspension. Mark Friedman, who sat in the last two games, returned to the Penguins blue line on the third pair with Chad Ruhwedel. Backup Casey DeSmith got his second consecutive start in goal for just the second time this season, and Brock McGinn returned to the lineup after he missed the last 12 games with an upper-body injury.
However, Bryan Rust left the game after just two shifts.
Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin has had a rough go over the past couple of months. His mistake in the third period was almost too good to be true for New York. Dumoulin attempted to play a dump-in, but merely deflected it directly to Islanders forward Josh Bailey near the net. Bailey (10) quickly deked Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith for the go-ahead goal. 4-3.
However, the Penguins were the recipient of gifted power pay. Early in the third period, officials called Anthony Beauvillier for tripping, though TV replays clearly showed Kasperi Kapanen tripped on the puck.
Just seconds into the power play, the Penguins scored the tying goal. Jake Guentzel appeared to complete the hat trick from the net front, but Jeff Carter deflected it for a tie game. 4-4.
Guentzel did earn his third point.
Officials earned laughter from both Islanders coach Barry Trotz and Penguins coach Mike Sullivan when they evened up the calls on the ensuing faceoff. Referees dished a tripping call to McGinn.
Only DeSmith preserved the tie game after New York had a couple of Grade A chances on the power play.
DeSmith was very good, though his statistics said otherwise. He stopped XX XX.
The Penguins struck first before watching the Islanders score three unanswered goals.
Rickard Rakell took Rust’s spot on the top line, assisting on the fourth consecutive Penguins goal over the last two games. Nearly six minutes into the game, Jake Guentzel (34) poked Rakell’s rebound into a yawning cage. Sidney Crosby also earned an assist for his hand in four straight Penguins goals, too.
Midway through the period, the Islanders converted a short power play after 4v4 play expired. On the rush, Mathew Barzal set up Zach Parise (12), who snapped it over DeSmith.
Less than three minutes later, Jeff Carter crushed Barzal at the blue line, then dumped Oliver Wahlstrom, who tried to retaliate. The Penguins were not on the power play long before J-G Pageau, and Parise raced past the Penguins power play for a shorthanded goal. Pageau fed Parise (13) across the crease for his second goal of the period.
And the Penguins recent trend of yielding goals in the final minute of a period bit them again in the first.
With only 38 seconds remaining in the first, Josh Bailey (9) scored an unassisted tally after he one-timed Penguins center Teddy Blueger’s ill-advised pass for a 3-1 lead.
Pittsburgh Penguins Comeback
After several Penguins turnovers and mistakes early in the second period, Brian Boyle created one in the favor. On the resulting rush, Kasperi Kapanen slipped the puck to a wide-open Danton Heinen (15), who easily capped the play.
Late in the period, the Penguins didn’t give up a goal but scored one. The Pittsburgh Penguins forwards pinned New York in the defensive zone. Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara was caught on the ice for well over two minutes. Crosby, Rakell, and Guentzel cycled the puck with impunity until Guentzel (35) zipped a shot through heavy traffic in the slot and past Sorokin.
The Penguins dominated the second period with only 11 forwards. They also lost Evan Rodrigues, who left the bench midway through the period but outshot New York 19-7.
The statistics didn’t show it, but DeSmith was very good. He stopped 33 of 37 shots before the shootout. Sorokin faced a lot of shots, too. He turned aside 42 of 46.