The Penguins have done it in a number of ways. They’ve eked out wins. They’ve dominated. They’ve capitalized on mistakes. They’ve gotten lucky.
And perhaps most frustrating for the Islanders, Saturday was a mixture of all four. The Islanders played better, for the most part, but the Penguins again managed to emerge victorious.
This time Kris Letang scored with 26 seconds left in overtime on a fluttering shot that bounced off a stick and in, giving the Penguins a 4-3 win at Nassau Coliseum.
"That goal went off the stick," Brock Nelson said. "It wasn’t a clean [goal] or a broke coverage or a mistake. It was just a weird hockey play, and sometimes that’s how games are won and lost. You’d like to come out on the winning side more often than not. We’ve played a couple of good games against these guys and they’ve found a way to win."
Pittsburgh has won four straight against the Islanders, who are 1-2-2 against the Penguins this season.
"Just a tad," Mathew Barzal said when asked if he was frustrated by a team the Islanders just can’t seem to shake. "They play hard, good power play. Sid [Crosby] leads the way. He’s the hardest worker on the ice for the most part, so everyone follows. Every time we play them, it’s a tough game whether we have the puck more than them or vice versa.
"It’s both teams having a super-high compete level, so yeah, it’s unfortunate that we haven’t been able to [beat] them the last few times. At the end of the day, you have to tip your cap. They’re competing just as hard."
And though that’s true, there’s no question that Saturday felt like an exercise in frustration.
The Islanders went up by two goals, then faltered, then fell. After allowing only 15 penalties in 19 games this season, they gave the Penguins five power-play opportunities.
The Islanders got on the board with 1:20 left in the first period when Nelson tipped in a man-up feed from Oliver Wahlstrom — Nelson’s fifth power-play goal of the season and sixth overall.
It also was Wahlstrom’s third straight game with a point.
Barzal scored his eighth goal at 1:34 of the second period to make it 2-0. Anders Lee’s drop pass went to Barzal, whose shot tipped off John Marino’s stick and past Tristan Jarry.
The Penguins then scored twice in 26 seconds, kicked off by a power-play goal courtesy of Wahlstrom’s boarding penalty at 2:11 of the second period. Seconds into the man-up advantage, Crosby capitalized when a sprawling Sem-yon Varlamov couldn’t recover in time. Seconds later, Letang scored on a screen shot off Varlamov to tie it up.
The Islanders went ahead 3-2 with 5:09 left in the second period when Anthony Beauvillier’s pass found Josh Bailey, who hit the top shelf from the slot. The Penguins tied it 18 seconds into the third period on Jared McCann’s goal after Adam Pelech turned it over at the blue line.
Then came Letang’s winner, seemingly dumb luck on a bad day.
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