The Pittsburgh Penguins had their chances, but they couldn't put the New York Islanders away Friday night, letting them hang into the third period, where the Islanders took advantage of a few lapses and skated away with a 4-3 victory.
It's a tough one to take for the Pens, who outshot the Isles 42-25, out-attempted them 65-50, held a 48-27 edge in faceoffs, and had two separate leads (2-1 and then 3-2) in the third period before New York clawed back and had Josh Bailey win it with a goal with just 1:40 remaining.
Pittsburgh certainly had their chances, receiving five power plays (four in the first period and one in the second) but couldn't convert. Then Sidney Crosby got a breakaway in the third period, but Evgeni Nabokov was up for the challenge, making the stop.
The Islanders would be the ones to score with the man-advantage, cashing in to open the scoring in the first when Matt Moulson made a great effort collecting a bouncing puck off a rebound and putting it in the net by a helpless Jeff Zatkoff.
Crosby scored the second period's only goal when he shot on a two-on-one break, beating Nabokov far side on a beauty of a shot. Then came the frantic third period with four goals coming in a quick bunch- first Frans Nielson tipped a Thomas Hickey shot to tie the game but then just 16 seconds later new-forward Deryk Engelland drove to the net like an old pro and tapped in a centering pass from Joe Vitale in the corner to re-establish the Penguin lead.
On this night, though, it wouldn't last. Just 53 seconds after Engelland's goal, Chuck Kobasew failed to clear and the Penguins defense wasn't prepared for not getting out of the zone. Radek Martinek held the line and made a nice pass to Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who was in behind the Pens D, and easily made a deke past Zatkoff to tie the game.
Then in the game's dying moments, Bailey won it for the Isles making a second effort on his own shot, after a point blank save by Zatkoff to eventually punch in the winner.
"There's no excuse for giving up two [goals] in a row like that," Crosby would say after the game. He added, "we had some good opportunities to build on our lead, we didn't, we made some mistakes and they made us pay."
The Penguins will get to move on quickly, as they travel to Toronto for a game tomorrow night against the Maple Leafs.