Despite an inspired second-period comeback to tie the game and secure a point for the Islanders, a frustrated Penguins power play cashed in on their eighth attempt of the game to earn a 3-2 overtime win over New York Friday.
The Penguins weren't the only team that struggled on the power play. The Islanders were 1-for-6 on the night and failed to convert with the game tied and the man-advantage with less than three minutes in regulation.
With the game tied at 2, Islanders defenseman Milan Jurcina was whistled for a hooking penalty less than a minute into the overtime period. Penguins defenseman Alex Goligoski then tallied on the power play to give Pittsburgh their first win at the new CONSOL Energy Center.
"We had two goals to get us back in the game in the second, we battled hard in the third, but we're definitely not satisfied with the result," said Josh Bailey, whose power-play goal ignited the second-period comeback.
After surrendering a pair of goals in the middle frame, the Islanders witnessed a cringe-inducing play that has become all too familiar for the team recently.
Blake Comeau sat dazed on his hands and knees for several minutes while attended by team trainers after being leveled by Penguins defenseman Kris Letang in open-ice.
And although the sellout crowd of 18,195 at CONSOL Energy Center vehemently disagreed with the call on Letang---a five minute major and game misconduct for a hit to the head--Comeau’s linemate Josh Bailey did not.
Bailey wasted no time pouncing on Letang and the Islanders rallied back shortly thereafter.
Bailey emerged from the penalty box to tally on the power-play to cut the Penguins lead in half at 11:18 and less than two minutes later, defenseman Radek Martinek tied the game by lifting the puck over Penguins backup goaltender Brent Johnson's left pad at 13:07.
"It's been a long time since we've had a point here, so that's a huge plus for us," coach Scott Gordon said. "Especially since we didn't have much going for us there until the second. It almost felt like we stole a point."
Comeau, who was not available for comment after the game, did not miss a shift after the hit. He also picked up assists on both second-period Islanders goals.
"I saw it on the replay and obviously he blindsided him. [Blake] didn't see it coming," Bailey said. "To some degree there is an onus on the player and I'm sure Blake would agree with that, but at the same time we're not going to stand for that,"
“I tried to put my stick on the puck first, that’s how we play defense – then I put my shoulder on his shoulder,” Letang told reporters after the game. “With a hit like that right away I was saying (to officials) that I was going for the puck.
“It’s a judgment. Everybody’s got to look at it. It’s a player that I need to step up; otherwise he’s going to be by himself in the scoring slot.”
The Islanders were forced to rely on a strong penalty-killing effort throughout the game. And although they were successful with the first seven Penguins power plays they faced, Pittsburgh's eighth was the difference in the game.
"It's not easy, especially against a team like Pittsburgh that's so dynamic on their power play," DiPietro said. "They struggled at home, so obviously they were feeling pressure to get the win. We battled hard, I thought it was a good point. Would've definitely liked the two."
One game after scoring his first NHL goal, rookie Nino Niederreiter took two consecutive penalties—two minutes for tripping and four minutes for high-sticking-- to put the Islanders down a man for six minutes of the last 7:41 to play in the first period.
The Islanders successfully killed off both penalties, but the PK had plenty more work throughout the night.
The Islanders gave the Penguins eight power-play opportunities over the course of the game and took two bench minors for too many men on the ice. The Islanders have now incurred four such penalties in four games this season.
"Both teams were undisciplined tonight," coach Scott Gordon said after the game.
As the Islanders luck would have it, Comeau wasn’t the only player that went down after taking a hit.
DiPietro landed on his back after Matt Cooke barreled into him after a play and stayed down for several minutes before reclaiming his crease.
Cooke received two minutes for goaltender interference.
"It's part of the game," DiPietro said. "That's it."