UNIONDALE, NY – The Isles were so close Sunday. They had jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the first only to see the Pittsburgh Penguins rally for four straight.
In the end it was an unfortunate penalty for holding Sidney Crosby by Brian Strait in the extra session that made all the difference.
Crosby then had the puck on the powerplay on the goal line to the right of the Islanders cage and he managed a nifty little pass to Chris Kunitz who one-timed the puck past Evgeni Nabokov for the game winner.
“The best ‘setup’ he had was drawing the penalty in overtime,” Pens head coach Dan Bylsma said on NHL.com. “That’s typical of what Sidney Crosby can do — he draws a penalty by going down low and going to the net.
“He hasn’t played much hockey in the last month, but playing-wise and skill-wise, he’s shown quite a bit in two games.”
The Pens now have a 2-1 series lead.
After New York had built the early 2-0 lead, Jarome Iginla, Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis powered Pittsburgh to a 3-2 lead after 20 minutes.
“We had a tough call in overtime,” New York Islanders star John Tavares said. “We’ve just got to stick with it. It’s part of the playoffs. There’s a lot of ups and downs that go your way and don’t go your way. We just need to regroup and know we’re playing some good hockey and creating opportunities. We believe in ourselves. It’s a big game for us on Tuesday.”
Tavares was the hero for the Isles midway through the third period when he netted the game tying goal. With the Islanders using more and more of the body to establish a presence on the ice, Tavares skated up the far boards and used Pens defenseman Mark Eaton as a screen and let loose with a wrist shot that fooled Marc-Andre Fleury in net low to the right side.
We came out and the crowd was electric,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said on NHL.com. “But the discipline on penalties, when you play an experienced team like that, that was obviously the turning point in the hockey game. Two power-play goals, special teams, they got the edge tonight and that’s why they won the game.”
The Islanders will now look to put together a complete game four and avoid undisciplined play that led to far too many penalties in this match. If they can do that they can knot this series up before heading back to Pittsburgh.
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