A well-welcomed return for Bryan Rust who has been out the last 6 weeks with a hand injury. Scott Wilson (who's been a bit banged up of late, missing optional skates) is out for the second end of the back-to-back. Cameron Gaunce gets a sweater for Frank Corrado who is unfreed. And Marc-Andre Fleury gets the net back for the start as well.
Welcome back, @rustyyy_92! Let's Go Pens! pic.twitter.com/Ueif3j61yu— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 24, 2017
Rust needs all of one shift to use his speed and earn a breakaway but Jaroslav Halak stops him.
Fleury answers with a good save on a one-timer from Jason Chimera.
The Penguins get a power play but it looks terrible. Nice work by the Islanders but still really disjointed.
Scott Mayfield hits 2 posts 28 seconds apart, not looking so great. The Isles hit a 3rd post and the Pens are in hang-on mode. They don't. nice centering pass with time ticking down and with 2 seconds left Brock Nelson steers the puck into a wide open net.
Fleury got crowded in the net so the Penguins challenge for it. To be honest though, Chad Ruhwedel kind of bodies Alan Quine into Fleury, but the refs think it was enough and reverse the call. Really don't agree with it, that should have been a good goal. Isles coach Doug Weight REALLY disagrees though, and it's tough to blame him.
I love Dougie Fresh— YeSUV (@IslesWhiteSUV) March 24, 2017
He's great #WeightLift #isles pic.twitter.com/p7SbHQGVck
Shots 8 a piece, goals 0 a piece thanks to the only league in the world that likes to take points off the board for extremely little reason.
As so often happens, a close break goes one way and then something decisive happens the other. Cameron Gaunce of all people rips a point shot that eludes Halak. 1-0 Pens.
Congratulations to the 9 people who correctly predicted that Cameron Gaunce would score the #Pens first goal. You psychics, you. pic.twitter.com/aeMsGjsi1N— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 25, 2017
Gaunce giveth and Guance taketh - the young defenseman turns the puck over with a poor NZ turnover and Josh Ho-Sang sets up Nelson for a goal that counts this time to tie the game at 1.
*Josh Ho-Sang does good things alert* pic.twitter.com/xlPV4VBaph— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) March 25, 2017
The Islanders score again, but wait this time there's pretty clear evidence it should be off-sides. Unlike goalie interference, pretty black and white for going over, lifting foot before the puck gets there. Pens challenge so no goal, right?
Welp, enter NHL officials who botch the 2nd challenge of the game, but at least it evens that up to make the game 2-1 NYI. Now it's Mike Sullivan's turn to be a little miffed by the call of the zebras.
Gotta love Mike Sullivan reaction on review decision of Anders Lee goal pic.twitter.com/1BRNOw9Ck1— Dennis Bernstein (@DennisTFP) March 25, 2017
When they tell you the whole play started with the big win on the faceoff. pic.twitter.com/YbHj2Fx0s2— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) March 25, 2017
OK, anyways finally a controversy free goal, and whaddya know but it's scored by none other than Mr. Controversy himself. Sidney Crosby once again scores a goal where Calvin de Haan is the prime victim, this sentence has been typed on Pensburgh perhaps more than any others. 2-2 game.
Prepare to be dazzled. pic.twitter.com/72fX7KJQ2P— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 25, 2017
The Pens have leaned heavily on Chad Ruhwedel, and he's done a hell of a job, considering. But you get reminders sometimes he should be defending, say John Tavares. The Islanders score AGAIN in the dying seconds of the period and now there's no more challenges. 3-2 NYI.
Tavares forechecks aggressively, stickhandles deftly, passes precisely. pic.twitter.com/9HCZzAzVAX— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) March 25, 2017
Shots 22-19 NYI total after 2 periods.
When all hope looks lost, who else but the dream combo of Gaunce and Matt Cullen come through to tie the game. Great move by Gaunce to dip the shoulder and drive to the net for Cullen to find the rebound and score a goal. Pens have tied it at 3.
Gaunce carries it in and Dad knocks it home! Tonight marks Gaunce’s first-career multi-point game. pic.twitter.com/1OVGM5y28p— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 25, 2017
The Pens sort of die on the vine in the 3rd, as expected for playing last night. Fleury makes 20 saves in the period, excellent job and we head to OT, for the second night in a row,
Shots 43-34 NYI overall.
Phil Kessel drops acid and makes one-man rushes on his own, totally controlling play but Halak answers him with saves. Bonino hits the post on a Kessel pass. Great action but no goals, so it's shootout time.
Anthony Beauvililililier comes in, dekes Fleury out his boots and scores. Phil goes on Halak, puts the puck through him but not past the goal line.
Tavares gets his go, unreal hands and scores.....Crosby needs to score to extend the game and does.
Andrew Ladd with the chance to end the game but a big time stop by Fleury stacking the pads on him....Nicky Bones, game on his stick and once again beats Halak but once again the puck dies just before the goal-line. Pens lose.
- Chris Kunitz and Nick Bonino together were the best combo the Penguins had going in the first 10 minutes of the game, maybe even longer. Don't recall seeing them play together much continuously in the past but it'll be interesting to see if that combo gets more time to work together.
- NYI hit their share of crossbars, and Phil Kessel did too in the 2nd period. Great look for him, need to see more of that. He can't seem to buy goals right now but that one wasn't too far from back on the scoreboard.
- Wild game with all the coaches challenges. Can't say I like 'em too much as a fan, even if it was Sullivan trying to save goals. Just kills the flow of play, the calls are so close that you never know what way it will swing. Ehh, at some point a goal is a goal is a goal if it ends up in the net. Just embrace the human element, I say. Probably in the minority there but I don't really care.
- Just one more game on Sunday and then Pittsburgh gets the last 2 day break of the regular season. The compressed schedule (World Cup of Hockey + all-star + bye week) has it a joke for every team but it's worth pointing out again this just isn't very good hockey. Phil freakin Kessel was playing on a line with Carter Rowney for cryin out loud. Not exactly hockey at it's finest but what can you do.
- Phil was next level in that OT. Really sensed a goal, just couldn't get it.
- (Sets the "It has been __ games since Crosby created controversy") up to 1. Hey, progress! And goal 42 of the year for all the sad haters out there.
- Speaking of all controversy, real and imagined, that Josh Ho-Sang is a fun player to watch. Good hands, and his skating style is like a choppy, electric dance out there. Even if he didn't have a flashy number he would stand out. And he seems like the type of player who deserves a flashy number. There will never be another Mario Lemieux but hopefully we never really have to mention this again. More progress!
- Questions from last night about if the Pens should have put Fleury (the NHL's all-time best shootout goalie) in cold against Ottawa last night for the shootout. They didn't, Murray gave up goals on the first 2 shots he saw and they lost. Tonight Fleury (who's shootout save% isn't great lately, to be honest) gives up 2 goals on first 2 shots and that's too big a hole too. Is there a point? No, not really, just that the shootout is a fickle beast. Probably not going to work throwing a cold goalie in.