So far this season the Islanders have proven to be a third period team, really finding a way to keep themselves in every game, earning points in three out of their first four games. But Friday night was a little different, when Pittsburgh made two tallies early in the second and the Islanders evened the score that same period.
Holding the Penguins to their first two points, both teams came up empty in the third, forcing the game into overtime. After the Islanders found themselves in their second overtime of the season, Penguins defenseman Alex Goligoski scored (1:51), giving Pittsburgh their first win at the Consol Energy Center.
“The biggest take away for our team is we finally got a point in Pittsburgh,” Islanders head coach Scott Gordon told MSG Network. “And it’s been hard pressed for us to be able to do that. Out of all of the periods, the third was our best and that’s been something by having a strong third period, these four games we’ve been able to get points.”
The Penguins may not have been so lucky if the Islanders hadn’t given them the 5-on-4 advantage just 52 seconds into the OT period when defenseman Milan Jurcina was called for hooking on a play behind the Islanders goal.
“I mean it’s not easy especially against a team like Pittsburgh that’s so dynamic on their power play,” said goaltender Rick DiPietro.
“They’ve been struggling a little bit at home so obviously they were feeling a little pressure trying to get the win but I thought we battled hard, it was a good point and I definitely would have liked the two.”
While the Penguins took the early lead in the second period, the Islanders were able to find their momentum when Kris Letang collided with Blake Comeau at center ice and the referees ruled the play as a hit to the head after Comeau’s helmet came flying off.
Giving Letang a game misconduct and ejecting him from the game, Mike Comrie served the five-minute major at 7:48. Even though Comeau was all right, Josh Bailey retaliated, finding himself a seat in the penalty box for minor roughing penalty.
While Comrie was still in the box, Bailey served his time and scored the Islanders first goal of the game, closing the gap 2-1 when Comeau redirected a hard pass from Islanders captain Doug Weight and Bailey found a piece of the puck to edge it in at 11:18.
Just after the penalty ended, Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek tallied his first point since last October. Islanders forward Matt Moulson passed the puck to Comeau behind the goal line who slid the puck out front of the net, where it ricocheted off of a Penguins defenseman before Martinek was there to scoop it in past goaltender Brent Johnson.
We didn’t capitalize on our power play, which I think is something we need to do more, but obviously in the third period we had a chance to win on the power play and we didn’t.- Josh Bailey
While Bailey's goal was scored on the power play, the Islanders had 18 minutes to try to make something happen.
“We didn’t capitalize on our power play, which I think is something we need to do more, but obviously in the third period we had a chance to win on the power play and we didn’t,” said Bailey. “So I think there was a positive there, but then Marty (Radek Martinek) had a big goal, I think two big goals to get us back in the game and we battled hard in the third, but we’re definitely not satisfied with the result that’s for sure.”
Michael Rupp scored the Penguins first goal of the game with a backhanded shot off the rebound at 4:07 of the second and Eric Tangradi tallied Pittsburgh’s second point when his shot ricocheted into the net at 6:51.
Overall, the Islanders took 23 minutes worth of penalties on the night, while Pittsburgh had 18. Each team only tallied one power play goal. The Islanders recorded five of their first 10 points on the power play, so with so many opportunities it came as a bit of a surprise to coach Gordon, who wasn’t pleased with the outcome.
“Well I mean certainly we didn’t play well as far as our turnovers,” Scott Gordon told MSG network. “I mean we worked hard, but we didn’t work smart with the puck. I don’t think either team is going to have any takeaway with this game they played their best hockey.”
Gordon also said, “I think probably both teams are looking at it as our power plays weren’t very good. We each got one power play goal, but our penalty killing did a great job.”
And the coach credited Mark Eaton, a former Penguin, as well as Martinek for their stellar work on the blueline for keeping the Islanders in the game.
“Well it was to make sure we didn’t turn the puck over, but as you saw I don’t think it worked well. Obviously Marty (Martinek) and Eats (Eaton) did a great job taking his time and space away. That’s really what it came down to. They did a great job.”
The Islanders will play the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night at the Nassau Coliseum before heading out onto a four-game road trip.
1 - 0 PIT