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Better to be Lucky. Penguins Escape with 5-4 OT win

The Pittsburgh Penguins lucked their way out of another outright bad game against the Islanders, taking a 2-1 series lead with Chris Kunitz's overtime winner.

Bruce Bennett

After erasing a two-goal deficit and surrendering a two-goal lead, the Penguins lucked their way into a win on Long Island, taking a 2-1 series lead on Chris Kunitz's overtime winner Sunday.

Pittsburgh's power play finished 3-for-5, and goals by Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, Douglas Murray and Jarome Iginla were enough to make an otherwise sorry effort stand up.

The Islanders outshot the Penguins, 36-25.

Game 3 took on many of the themes in Game 2, when the Islanders outworked the Penguins in all facets of the game but special teams. Friday saw the Islanders winning races, winning the physical battle and eventually winning their first playoff game by a 4-3 score. New York again outshot the Penguins on Sunday as a result of simply outworking them, but couldn't overcome Pittsburgh's overwhelming power play.

Despite a shorthanded goal allowed in the third, Pittsburgh's top power play has been nearly unstoppable, with Malkin and Crosby racking up the majority of their 11 points in this series on the man-advantage. The Pens PP finished 3-for-5 Sunday and are now 6-for-13 (46 percent) in three games so far.

Despite their superior scoring talent, the Penguins can't allow New York to control play in that manner and still escape with victories.

"It's not how we want a game to look," Murray said following Sunday's win. "We don't want a team to take control early like that and we most definitely don't want to give up a two-goal lead in the third.

"We're happy with the win, but obviously we have to fix a few things."

Murray was among the Pens' few skaters who had their heads on correctly today, scoring a goal, ringing another shot off the post and doing his part to contain the Islanders attack at even-strength and shut them down on a number of power plays that could have been turning points early on.

Outside of Murray and Paul Martin, Pittsburgh's defense was a mess again Sunday. Matt Niskanen and Mark Eaton, two of the team's more cerebral talents, made a number of inexcusable mental errors, while rookie Simon Despres saw just 6:12 TOI in the game.

Despres replaced Deryk Engelland in Sunday's line-up after Engelland's poor showing Friday, but nerves got the best of the rookie as he played just a handful of shifts after getting beaten badly on the Islanders first two goals.

Ostensibly, Despres and Engelland have only played in these playoffs in relief of Brooks Orpik, who has missed four straight games nursing an undisclosed injury.

Getting Orpik back in the picture won't solve Pittsburgh's defensive woes -- Penguins forwards who played such responsible defensive hockey down the stretch look like they're in need of another lecture from goalie Tomas Vokoun -- but his absence is clearly becoming an area of weakness in Pittsburgh's blue line.

The shot totals have been more instructive than the final scores in looking at how much New York has carried the play in the last two games. The Isles have outshot the Penguins 78-58 in the last two contests and 104-84 in three games this series.

Kyle Okposo, John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Casey Cizikas score for New York in the loss. The Islanders have now scored four goals in consecutive games after getting shutout in Game 1's blowout loss.

That improved production is due to the Islanders' intense forecheck. Only once in seven meetings in 2013 have the Penguins recorded more shots on goal than the Islanders. New York has now recorded 34 or more shots on goal in five of their seven games against Pittsburgh this season.

Pittsburgh allowed 29.2 shots per game this season on average, but New York is averaging 35 per game in the series so far.

Game 4 is Tuesday evening on Long Island.