Islanders rally in third period, win in OT against Penguins

Islanders rally in third period, win in OT against Penguins

The Islanders have needed a comeback against the Penguins three times in a succession entering the third period.

And they’ve succeeded three times in a row.

With a 4-3 triumph in overtime on Thursday, the Islanders completed a season sweep of the Penguins. If it weren’t for the third act of the same play we saw on February 17 at UBS Arena and February 20 here at PPG Paints Arena, two goals in the third period would have appeared out of nowhere.

An end-to-end stretch of three-on-three hockey and another incredible comeback against the Penguins were both capped off by a goal from Brock Nelson in overtime.

This was a sign of the Islanders’ tenacity as well as a puzzling series of outcomes for a seasoned Penguins team, which has kept the Isles’ chances of maintaining their lead over Pittsburgh for the first wild-card spot very much alive.

The Islanders are at least ostensibly ahead of the Penguins, who have 73 points in 64 games, with 76 points in 67 games.

Making good on their games left to play will be necessary for Pittsburgh to qualify for the playoffs and avoid facing the Bruins in the opening round.

The Islanders, on the other hand, watched this game change on a dime after 40 minutes of terrible hockey in which leaving the zone appeared to be an insurmountable challenge and defensive-zone structure appeared improbable.

With 5:29 remaining in the game, Hudson Fasching, who is to blame for the comeback, dove on a Casey Cizikas feed to the crease to cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 3-2.

The Islanders had been playing a mediocre third period up until that point, failing to capitalize on two power play opportunities and controlling the ball without really taxing Tristan Jarry.

But that objective gave the Islanders the inspiration they required.

With 1:15 remaining, Anders Lee scored a six-on-five goal to tie the score and force overtime. He did this by deflecting the puck through Jarry’s five-hole.

Once there, the finishing maneuver was all that remained.

The Islanders were on the back foot for the majority of the first 20 minutes of the game, with the exception of Lee’s power-play goal at 5:23.

That led to Penguins goals twice.

Marcus Pettersson’s point shot was deflected in by Jake Guentzel at 11:07, and at 18:24, Jason Zucker found space in the slot and one-timed an assist from Evgeni Malkin.

The Islanders gave up just one goal in the second period, when their number of shots nearly doubled, on a Josh Archibald tip-in at 10:49.

However, that concealed an offensive lack of innovation that persisted for the first 40 minutes.

Mathew Barzal’s suspected knee injury was announced to the Islanders just over two weeks ago in this very same building. Barzal would be out on a week-to-week schedule.

Since then, they have an illogical 6-1-1 record with a flair for the dramatic.

For two minutes on Thursday, it appeared as though the Penguins were controlling the neutral zone, forechecking hard, and making it difficult for the Islanders to advance the puck.

It appeared as though the Penguins would easily defeat the opposition.

But then again, the previous two games between these teams ended at the same point.



»Islanders rally in third period, win in OT against Penguins«

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