Playoffs by period: After missing shots to score, Penguins running out of chances |

Playoffs by period: After missing shots to score, Penguins running out of chances

Kevin Gorman
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins’ Jake Guentzel clears the puck past the Islanders’ Tom Kuhnhackl in the second period Sunday, April 14, 2019 at PPG Paints Arena.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner stops a shot on net by the Penguins’ Dominik Simon during the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Sunday, April 14, 2019 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin warm up before playing the Islanders in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round series April 14, 2019, at PPG Paints Arena.
Shane Dunlap | Tribune-Review
Penguins goalie Matt Murray makes a first-period save as Islanders forward Brock Nelson hopes for a rebound during Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round series April 14, 2019, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins celebrate Garrett Wilson’s goal against the Islanders in the first period Sunday, April 14, 2019, at PPG Paints Arena.

THIRD PERIOD: Islanders 4, Penguins 1

It comes down to chances.

When the Penguins got theirs, they missed.

Sidney Crosby had the puck behind the net and slid a pass to Jake Guentzel at the bottom of the left circle. Guentzel fired a shot off the left shoulder of Islanders goalie Robin Lehner, popping his mask loose in the process.

When the Islanders got theirs, they scored.

When Penguins Justin Schultz tried to flip the puck through the neutral zone, the Islanders knocked it down and went on the offensive. Jack Johnson tried to stop it, but couldn’t control the puck and backed into position.

But Valtteri Filppula saw Leo Komarov open in the right circle and sent a pass that was redirected by Anthony Beauvillier in the slot. Johnson was caught in the middle, and Komarov sent a shot past Matt Murray to give the Islanders a 3-1 lead at 10:27.

It was Komarov’s first goal since Jan. 20. The Islanders’ third line has scored twice as many goals as the Penguins’ top line, as unimaginable as that sounded at the start of this series.

That took the air out of the crowd at PPG Paints and, perhaps, left the Penguins deflated. They didn’t steal one of the first two games at Nassau Coliseum. They couldn’t win on home ice, either.

Now, the Penguins are on the brink of elimination.

And running out of chances.

SECOND PERIOD: Islanders 2, Penguins 1

The storyline of this series has been how the Islanders have kept Sidney Crosby and his linemates off the score sheet through the first nine periods, including overtime.

The mystery has been why coach Mike Sullivan and his Penguins teammates maintain that even though Crosby has yet to score a point, he has been dominant at times.

That was evident in a second-period sequence that started with goalie Matt Murray under siege. Jake Guentzel blocked a shot, then collected the puck while on his knees and directed a pass to Dominik Simon.

Simon got the puck through the neutral zone, then sent it along the boards to Crosby. With an Islanders defender draped on him, Crosby cycled from the left circle to the right. Even when the puck slipped from his stick, Crosby kicked it right back to his blade without breaking stride.

Then he slid a pass to Guentzel, who was set up to score.

When Guentzel mistimed it, the PPG Paints Arena crowd let out an audible gasp. They saw a beautiful play go for naught and a golden opportunity get away without a goal.

Crosby was dominant, but didn’t get a point.

And that’s a storyline on the brink of a bad ending if the Penguins don’t come up with a plot twist soon.

FIRST PERIOD: Islanders 2, Penguins 1

Now this was what you call a true “game-time decision.”

When the starting lineup was announced, it included a surprise. Alongside Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist and defensemen Erik Gudbranson and Marcus Pettersson was Jared McCann.

After taking a cross-check to the back from Cal Clutterbuck in his Stanley Cup playoffs debut in Game 1, McCann missed Game 2 with an upper-body injury.

That forced the Penguins to juggle their lines, as Zach Aston-Reese moved to the second line and Teddy Blueger replaced him on the fourth line. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan juggled them again for Game 3, moving Dominik Simon to the top line to help generate scoring from Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel.

That might sound like a backwards approach, given that Simon has only one goal and seven assists since Jan. 19. But he’s been adept this series at handling the forecheck and moving the puck.

But McCann scored 11 goals and had six assists for the Penguins since Feb. 1 after being acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers.

If Crosby and Guentzel don’t get going soon, moving McCann to the top line should be Sullivan’s next move.

Keep up with the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Penguins
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.