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Islanders rally to salvage point in OT loss to Penguins

Penguins' Jake Guentzel redirects a shot by Kris

Penguins' Jake Guentzel redirects a shot by Kris Letang past Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak with Adam Pelech defending during a game in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. Credit: AP / Gene J. Puskar

PITTSBURGH — Doug Weight summed up a strange game.

“It was a really good game, a really good point for us to get,” he said Thursday night. “And I’m still really [expletive] off about it.”

The Islanders lost to the Penguins, 4-3, on Matt Hunwick’s goal 1:29 into a zany overtime that featured a couple of breakaways and an ugly collision between Mathew Barzal and John Tavares (both are fine).

The zaniness didn’t start there, however. A 1-1 game heading to the third period turned into a 3-1 Penguins lead in a 32-second span on Phil Kessel’s power-play snipe and Riley Sheahan’s open-netter after a terrible puck play by Jaroslav Halak.

The Islanders got themselves together in the final five minutes of regulation, with Barzal beating Tristan Jarry at 15:07 and Brock Nelson tying the score at 18:50 with Halak pulled for an extra skater. Anders Lee then beat Jarry, but his shot rang off both posts with 40 seconds left in the third.

“Barzy’s goal was huge, a big-time goal, and we definitely fed off that,” Nelson said. “Then we got a little unlucky right at the end.”

Weight’s anger didn’t stem from needing to rally for a point; it was more because the Islanders seemingly can’t get through a penalty kill anymore.

After the Penguins’ 2-for-2 night, including Jake Guentzel’s first-period deflection, the Islanders have allowed eight power-play goals in the last 13 times short. They are at 73.3 percent efficiency for the season, among the worst in the league.

“We’re together as a coaching staff and a team and we’re going to find a way to kill one off,” Weight said. “Sometimes you have to just learn it all over again.”

The Islanders went 0-for-4 on their power play, which made the game all the more frustrating because they were far superior at even strength, especially in the second period.

Ryan Pulock stepped around Sidney Crosby to start a play that finished with Jordan Eberle digging a puck out from under Carl Hagelin and snapping it home to tie it.

The Penguins had 26 attempts and 15 shots on Halak in the first period but only 32 and 17 on goal the remainder of the game.

Kessel wired one over Halak’s shoulder at 7:29 of the third, but the deflating play came on the next shift. Halak strolled out to the side boards in an attempt to play the puck but gave it to Sheahan, who walked into the slot and snapped one into an open right side.

“It’s two power-play goals and one bad goalie touch,” Weight said. “I thought we played a real strong game, lots of communication in the D zone.”

Weight jumbled his lines late, and it was a Barzal-Casey Cizikas-Josh Bailey line that got things going after a bit of a lull through the majority of the third.

“I thought it started at the end of the first. We played a really good road game,” Eberle said. “We fell behind but we battled back hard and got a point. Once you get to OT, you want the second one, but it’s good to salvage the one.”

New York Sports