The Penguins dominated the Islanders on Saturday night.
But the Islanders also beat themselves in a 6-3 loss before a crowd of 2,800 at PPG Paints Arena with ill-timed penalties, loose defensive play and subpar goaltending as they spotted the Penguins a five-goal lead.
"We weren’t good enough," coach Barry Trotz said. "We had too many passengers. We needed a timely save, we took unnecessary penalties. When you do that against Pittsburgh, you’re not going to have any success."
Ilya Sorokin was pulled after allowing four goals on nine shots. His personal eight-game winning streak — a team record for rookie goalies — was snapped.
The Islanders (22-9-4) had their three-game winning streak snapped to start a two-game series in Pittsburgh. The teams will meet for the eighth and final time on Monday night.
The Islanders are 2-3-2 against the Penguins, who got a hat trick from Bryan Rust and have won three straight.
"Honestly, I didn’t see enough from anybody," Trotz said, adding that he felt he had "five players going tonight . . . Ilya and the rest of the team, it just wasn’t enough."
It marked the third time on this four-game road trip that the Islanders have played without the lead.
They rallied for a 2-1 overtime win over the Flyers on Monday and a 4-3 overtime win over the Bruins on Thursday.
"We always want to be playing with a lead and get that first goal," said Mathew Barzal, who got to the crease to beat Tristan Jarry (29 saves) for his first goal in 11 games to make it 5-1 at 10:47 of the second period. "I think this team is pretty resilient. We were pushing. But it stinks being down. It is draining."
"You get down by that many, it’s too hard to come back in this league," said Jordan Eberle, who made it 5-3 at 17:33 of the third period with the teams skating four-on-four but with Semyon Varlamov (10 saves) pulled for an extra skater.
Eberle then hit the post on the ensuing power play before Rust completed his hat trick by exiting the penalty box and scoring an empty-netter with 41.1 seconds remaining.
"There were some defensive breakdowns by us," Eberle said. "They’re a good team over there. The biggest thing is we’re just trying to build momentum for the game after you get down by five. We’ve got these guys in a couple of days and we just want to get a foot in the door."
The teams had met six times in a 23-day span in February, and four of those were one-goal games. Sorokin made 20 saves in a 2-0 win over the Penguins at Nassau Coliseum on Feb. 28. But he was pulled after Rust’s power-play goal at 6:18 of the second period, with defenseman Scott Mayfield off for crosschecking Sam Lafferty, made it 4-0.
Sidney Crosby gave a quick feed to Rust, who beat Sorokin through his pads as the goalie came far out of his crease.
Rust also made it 5-0 at 8:21 of the second period on the Penguins’ first shot against Varlamov, getting free at the crease to dig out the rebound of defenseman Kris Letang’s initial shot.
The Penguins scored on their first two shots against Sorokin.
Frederick Gaudreau completed a two-on-one rush to make it 1-0 at 5:48 after Lafferty was able to get his feed around defenseman Thomas Hickey.
Evan Rodrigues made it 2-0 at 10:07 with a screened shot from above the left circle.
Crosby’s power-play backhander made it 3-0 at 4:26 of the second period with Nick Leddy off for slashing Lafferty.