Rick DiPietro gives up shootout winner to Penguins
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PITTSBURGH -- Evgeni Nabokov helped the Islanders grab one point here, but he couldn't make it to the shootout, leaving after 30 saves through regulation and overtime with what he called a lower-body injury and some fatigue.
"I didn't have much power," Nabokov said after suffering his undetermined injury in the first period. "It had been bugging me for a while, and I was getting more and more fatigued. Sometimes you have to be smart."
DiPietro didn't expect his first work of the season to be on such short notice. He stopped Kris Letang on the first shootout try, but Malkin faked DiPietro to the ice and slid the puck under his goalie pad.
"I'm always ready. That's what they pay me to do," DiPietro said. "Unfortunately, we didn't get the win."
That was unfortunate from the 45-second mark of the third period, when Matt Martin slammed home a pass from Steve Staios to give the Islanders a 2-0 lead after they were outshot 13-2 in the second period.
After a suspect goaltender- interference call on Kyle Okposo and a couple of failed clearing attempts, James Neal finished off a neat passing play down low and it was tied just 4:15 into the third.
"It's mandatory when you have a 2-0 lead in the third to come out with a win," said Martin, who played another strong game with fourth-line mates Marty Reasoner and Jay Pandolfo. "It's just inexcusable to let them come back."
The Islanders came out strong in the first, matching the Penguins' intensity and scoring chances. Mark Streit made a pretty fake and took a shot that Okposo tipped on goal, and Frans Nielsen buried the rebound with 1:01 left in the period to open the scoring.
But the shots were 21-9 for the Penguins after 40 minutes, and the Islanders, as happened in Florida twice, stumbled through the middle 20 minutes.
"No question we were fortunate to be up after two periods," coach Jack Capuano said. "They had a lot of extended zone time and found some soft areas and got people to the net. When we did that, we had success, but we didn't do it enough."
The Islanders killed off the first four Pittsburgh power plays and looked good doing so. Nabokov was sharp and the penalty-killers, led by Nielsen and the defense, were quick to pucks.
The contributions from lines other than Tavares' line were big, too.
"Our D-zone coverage gets dismantled," Capuano said. "That goal [by Kunitz] really hurt us."
Nabokov's injury may hurt more, though DiPietro seems ready to make his first start of the season Saturday at the Coliseum against the Sharks despite getting his first work of the season at such an odd time.