Crosby and Malkin help power the Penguins to victory over the Islanders

Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

The New York Islanders poked the Russian bear, and he made them pay with a late third-period goal to force OT and push the Pittsburgh Penguins to a come-from-behind win

When Islanders forward Matt Martin got into a shoving match late in the third period against Evgeni Malkin, Malkin had been struggling through a rather rough game. After that first Martin shove, Geno woke up.

With 18 seconds left, Kris Letang teed up Geno and he blasted a shot through a throng of bodies, past Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov and into the back of the net.

The Penguins successfully forced overtime, and after a back-and-forth overtime period, the Penguins and Islanders went to a shootout.

Sidney Crosby roofed a backhander past Varlamov, the lone goal of the shootout, to lift the Penguins to two points and a 4-3 victory, snapping a 1-3-1 skid over the past five games. The Pens’ Twitter account provided their goal of the night.

First Period; 2-1 Islanders

Good teams in the NHL capitalize on their chances.

The Penguins created a two-on-one shorthanded rush off a Mark Jankowski steal, and he and Zach Aston-Reese were off the races. Jankowski could not get the puck to a shooting position and looked pass the whole way, which allowed Varlomov to slide across the crease and make a good save. Good chance but nothing out of it.

On the ensuing offensive zone possession for the Isles, the Pens had a chance to clear the puck from behind the net but could not. The Isles regained control of the puck, worked the puck up high and got a shot off, which Isles’ forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau deftly tipped into the back of the net to go up 2-1 late in the first period. Siiiigh, the Isles capitalized on their chances AND timely saves.

The Penguins needed a timely save from goalie Casey DeSmith after a puck off the boards got lost in defenseman John Marino’s skates. Isles’ forward Casey Cizikas bull-rushed Marino, collecting the puck and skating right through Marino toward the goal. DeSmith sat back in his crease, not challenging Cizikas and the Isles forward deked around DeSmith and buried the game’s opening goal. Not all on DeSmith, not all on Marino, but both needed to be better.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Penguins in the first period though, as the Crosby line continued to drive this team offensively.

Defenseman Mike Matheson created the initial chance, putting a shot on goal that could not be contained by Varlamov. Jake Guenztel collected the puck off the bounce, passed it up to Marino, who made a fabulous move to slide down low and dropped a pass back for Crosby. Crosby did his usual Crosby stuff and fired a cross-ice pass right on the tape to Guzentzel, who fired it toward the net where Bryan Rust had gained position. Rust tapped it in for an easy goal to tie it at 1-1.

Second Period; 2-2 tie

Mat Barzal is just so dang fast. He’s such a smoother skater, literally a one man entry crew. OK, sorry, just imagining that on the Penguins…

The Crosby and Blueger lines looked phenomenal, and with the first line scoring the first, you know the third line had to score the second.

Blueger dumped the puck in deep, one of the better zone entrances this game, and Aston-Reese and Tanev crashed behind the net. Aston-Reese lifted the stick of Isles’ defenseman Noah Dobson, corralled the puck and drove out from behind the net on the backhand. Varlamov denied the first attempt, but ZAR kept at it and his second shot snuck around Varlamov’s pads for his first goal of the season. Welcome back, ZAR! On pace for like 40 goals now this season. 2-2 midway through the second period.

The Penguins were awarded their first power play of the game midway through the second, with Isles forward Jordan Eberle throwing his broken stick at an airborne puck. He had the audacity to look surprised when he was called for a penalty, too. You know, just throwing your broken stick and stuff.

The Penguins’ power play continued to do absolutely nothing, looking like pylons out there while creating more chances for the penalty killers than themselves.

Pageau, that crafty nuisance, poked a puck free around Guenztel and sprang into a breakaway, bearing down on DeSmith. DeSmith stood tall, taking away Pageau’s angle and made one of his biggest save of the night. Very, very similar to the Varlamov two-on-one chance in the first. Except, the Pens’ power play could not do a single thing to capitalize.

The Penguins’ special team’s units continued to put on a masterclass in stinking out there.

The Penguins looked really good in the second period, dominating the offensive chances and were rewarded with ZAR’s goal. DeSmith made a timely save, the neutral zone play didn’t lead to a bunch of Isles’ chances but the power play continued to flounder. Something has to give. Tooooo much talent for this to be the result.

Third Period; 3-3 tie

It turns out that Pierre-Olivier Joseph is human after all. Barzal rather rudely introduced him to the league tonight, dangling around the rookie defenseman and roofing a shot up over DeSmith’s glove. Long overdue for Barzal who had been flying around the ice all game.

We’re not going to blame Letang for jumping into the rush, we’re going to remember that Joseph is a rookie defender and we’re going to remember DeSmith got beat by a nice shot. It was a nice goal. That’s that, but it was 3-2, Isles early in the third.

With time winding down in the third period, things looked pretty bleak until that Malkin-Martin shoving match. Of course, Malkin blasted the game-tying goal, and the Penguins were able to salvage at least one point.

Overtime opened up into the Isles pushing play, creating chances that were stymied by DeSmith and the Penguins, and the Pens weren’t able to really get a solid possession until the last minute. A possession that didn’t even produce a shot. The Pens just don’t like shooting the puck.

Isles forward Jordan Eberle opened the shootout, getting denied by DeSmith. Guenztel opened for the Penguins, being stuffed by Varlamov. Barzal was stopped, Crosby scored a beauty and Isles forward Josh Bailey was stopped by DeSmith to allow the Pens to stop their losing skid and pick up a much needed win.

A Peng-win, if you will.

The Penguins were the better team Thursday night, dominating the second period and driving play most of the third period. The Pens outshot the Isles 14-6 in the second, 35-29 over the course of the game, and deserved a full two points after the performance.

It took a last gasp goal from Malkin and shootout winner from Crosby to clinch the win, and the Pens certainly had their fair share of mishaps. The first period was rough, special teams were awful, DeSmith was up and down and the defensemen, looking at you Letang and Marino, were very erratic.

However, the Penguins picked up a win—this would be a very different article if not—and stopped a losing skid. The Pens will need to play better moving forward, across all aspects of the team, but they did pick up a win tonight.

On to the next!