Islanders rally to rob Penguins
The New York Islanders found the key to the left-wing lock.
Figuring out the Islanders, though, remains a problem for the Penguins.
The Penguins dominated play against the team that gave them fits last spring, but the Islanders rallied in a wild third period to steal a 4-3 victory Friday at Consol Energy Center.
Center Josh Bailey scored with 1 minute, 40 seconds remaining to punctuate the comeback.
“It's a game we feel like we should have won,” said backup goalie Jeff Zatkoff, who was relatively helpless on the Islanders' goals.
No one was blaming Zatkoff.
He made a couple of big saves in the opening 10 minutes when the Islanders controlled play. He even made a sparkling save moments before Bailey's game-winner, but the Islanders outnumbered the Penguins in front of Zatkoff on each of the final two goals.
“We have to shut things down when we get a lead like that,” said center Sidney Crosby, who scored his eighth goal and now leads the NHL with 18 points. “It wasn't good. They're a skilled team, but they really didn't get much all night. Then we gave them some opportunities, and they took advantage.”
Goal prevention was a problem for the Penguins last season against the Islanders, and even though they outshot New York, 42-25, sloppiness in their own zone was their undoing. The Penguins were charged with six turnovers but were careless without the puck.
Deryk Engelland, again playing right wing, sent the Consol crowd into a frenzy with 6:58 remaining when he converted on a Joe Vitale pass for his first goal of the season. It came 16 seconds after Frans Nielsen's deflection evened the game.
However, the Penguins couldn't handle prosperity.
Only 53 seconds later, the Islanders silenced the crowd.
Chuck Kobasew's clearing attempt was intercepted on the boards, and defenseman Olli Maatta already had skated to the blue line, leaving two Islanders forwards close to Zatkoff.
Pierre-Marc Bouchard evened the game on a breakaway.
“Their third goal is where the game got away from us,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “It was a wall play. We didn't provide puck support.”
Bailey's goal saw defensemen Kris Letang and Rob Scuderi struggling to remain in position. Letang, who looked rusty and passed up countless open looks on the power play, failed to get a puck deep, which led to a two-on-two.
Letang attempted to knock the puck away from the Islanders but failed. Bailey found himself with a glorious opportunity, but was robbed by Zatkoff. However, Letang and Scuderi failed to clear the puck from danger.
Bailey didn't miss on his second chance.
“We did the one thing that we knew we couldn't do,” Scuderi said. “We know how dangerous they are on the rush. They're a really fast, skilled team. We gave them way too many opportunities in those situations.”
The Penguins play five games in the next eight days, starting Saturday in Toronto. The Maple Leafs, incidentally, are one of the league's fastest teams and specializing at scoring on the rush.
“Tonight,” Crosby said, “just wasn't good enough.”
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