The Islanders rallied late in the third period to force overtime, but Matt Hunwick squashed New York’s hopes of leaving Pittsburg with two points with his game-winning goal 1:29 into overtime. The goal was briefly reviewed, but it was confirmed a good goal and sealed the 4-3 win for the Penguins.
The Islanders had trailed 3-1 after giving up two goals 32 seconds apart in the opening minutes of the third period. Phil Kessel scored off a wrist shot from the far side faceoff circle on the power play to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead at 7:29. Riley Sheehan scored seconds later after Jaroslav Halak came out of the net to play the puck and a miscue by the goaltender led to a turnover.
New York was able to turn thing around late in the period when Mathew Barzal scored on a fluky shot cut the Penguins lead to 3-2 at 15:07. Then, after a flurry of scoring chances for the Islanders, Brock Nelson buried the tying goal with 1:10 remaining in regulation.
Jake Guentzel scored in the first period to give the Penguins the initial 1-0 lead, while Jordan Eberle scored at 5:53 of the second period to even the score at one.
1. The Islanders managed to pick up a point in a game that looked all but lost in the third. Those two goals in the first 10 minutes seemed to stifle the positive momentum from the second. So give credit where credit is due to the Isles for scoring twice in the final five minutes and keeping the Penguins on their heels to create those scoring chances. Even after the game was tied the Islanders nearly capitalized on an Anders Lee chance that hit both posts and stayed out of the net.
A point is a point and with the Eastern Conference so tight right now every single point matters.
2. Still, there should be no one in the Islanders dressing who is completely satisfied with the final outcome of Thursday’s game, especially when it comes to their special teams performance. The Islanders had another rough effort on the man-advantage and finished the game 0-for-4.
The Islanders penalty kill continued to struggle against the Penguins. They surrendered two power-play goals to the Penguins, one which opened the scoring and the other which gave the Penguins the 2-1 lead in the third period. It marked the fourth straight game the Islanders have given up a pair of goals while shorthanded, which had seen the Islanders give up eight goals on 13 penalty kills.
3. The frustrating aspect of Thursday’s game is that they played a pretty solid game at even strength. The only goal the Penguins scored five-on-five came off an error by Jaroslav Halak when he decided to play the puck way outside of his net. Otherwise, the Islanders had managed to keep the Penguins at bay while at even strength.
And while the Islanders were outshot 15-6 in the first 20 minutes of the game, they held the Penguins to 14 shots on goal through the final 40 minutes of regulation while putting 19 shots on goal in the same span.
4. I’m not quite sure what Jaroslav Halak was thinking on that third Penguins goal. Playing the puck way outside of his net, Halak turned it over and allowed the Penguins an easy goal just seconds after they took the lead on the power play. Coming out of the net to play the puck is something that can be a wild ride when Halak does it, somewhat similar to the way former Islanders goaltender, turned radio show host, Rick DiPietro used to do.
However, aside from that one goal, it would be hard to say Halak played poorly on Thursday. Sure he finished the game having surrendered four goals, but he held the Penguins to just one goal through the first 40 minutes. The first-period deflection goal would be tough to stop for most goaltenders and the snipe by Phil Kessel is hard to put on Halak as well. The Islanders may have only picked up a point, but it was a better performance from Halak than his start in Florida on Monday.
5. Every once and while you’ll see someone on social media compare Doug Weight to Jack Capuano… and it’s not meant to be a compliment. But when I see Weight tell Newsday something like, “It was a really good game, a really good point for us to get, and I’m still really [—] off about it,” it’s easy to see the difference.