The Penguins go as expected with the same lineup from their last game, which feels like the first time in a long time that they’ve been able to even use the same lines and lineup two games in a row without any injuries or return from injuries.
Quite the penalty-fest early in the game with each the Pens and Islanders both taking two minors within the first 10:30 of the game.
With NYI on a power play, Mathew Barzal turns the puck over skating through the zone to Zach Aston-Reese. Aston-Reese and Bryan Rust embark on a 2-on-1 and make two cross-ice passes and ZAR slams home a goal past Semyon Varlamov.
But wait, Rust was a haaair offside. Nice instant challenge from the New York coach. Tough to sneak that past anyone these days.
Rust would atone for that little miscue by scoring on an ensuing power play, when a Jake Guentzel bump pass from the net came right to him and with no one around he had plenty of space to pick a corner on Varlamov’s glove. 1-0 Pens after all for the ever-rare first goal of the game for Pittsburgh this season.
Rust now has points in 8 of his 10 games played this season. pic.twitter.com/ITrAWme3Hv— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 20, 2019
The Pens get another goal, nice speed play by Jared McCann to get to a loose puck and play it back for John Marino at the point. Marino fires quickly and Brandon Tanev is able to avoid the defending of Adam Pelech and put a backhand tip on the puck right in front of Varlamov who has no chance. 2-0 Pens.
Shots through one period end up 11-9 Pens. Goals 2-0 Pens.
It only takes 5:30 in the period for the Islanders to erase the two goal hole they were in.
First, Anthony Beauvillier scores his fifth goal in the last three games, finding a soft spot in the Pens’ defense and getting a quick pass to make it 2-1.
well that was a BEAUTY! pic.twitter.com/GWHruHGZSx— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 20, 2019
Then, Brock Nelson had plenty of space all alone in front of the net to tip a Nick Leddy point shot that Matt Murray was left helpless on to tie the game at 2.
Leddy with the !— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 20, 2019
Nelson with the tip! pic.twitter.com/2NrHK0BDHT
After Varlamov made a few huge stops, it was Tanev who broke the tie with his second game of the evening to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead when his wraparound goes off Adam Pelech and into the net.
Tanev uses Pelech like a backboard and makes it 3-2 Penguins. Bank, swish. pic.twitter.com/EiLuTMayDJ— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 20, 2019
Shots in the second are 14-11 Pens and 25-20 Pittsburgh overall.
Mathew Barzal takes an offensive zone penalty and the Pens make him pay. Alex Galchenyuk makes a pass to Jake Guentzel who uses his skate to kick the puck up, then avoids the defender’s stick, rolls his hands and snaps the puck far-side on Varlamov. Just a masterful move by Guentzel to score on the rush, he made a very tricky play starting with the pass reception look very, very smooth. 4-2 Pens.
Welcome to Pittsburgh, Guentzelvania. pic.twitter.com/HBTXyn0GBN— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 20, 2019
Unfortunately Rust doesn’t make a smart play and gets whistled for an o-zone penalty of his own with 6:23 left in the period to give the Isles one last power play. Murray made a great stop on Jordan Eberle who found a loose puck to the left side on a goal he seemingly scored 56 times in the playoffs last spring (approximate). But as the penalty ends the Pens’ defense collapses back too much and Josh Bailey has room to make it 4-3 with 4:19 left.
BAILEY WITH A BEAUTY! pic.twitter.com/9qjLONiesI— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 20, 2019
The Pens get caught icing the puck and NYI pulls the goalie. The Isles work the puck around, Teddy Blueger screens the goalie and Ryan Pulock’s shot might have grazed him as it flew into the net. 4-4 game with just 92 seconds left.
Ryan Pulock tied the game with 1:32 remaining in regulation as the @NYIslanders earned at least a point for the 15th straight game.— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 20, 2019
New York matched its longest such run in franchise history, previously set from Jan. 21 - Feb. 20, 1982 (15-0-0). #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/sHVyxbKlDS
The Islanders win the all important first faceoff and take possession of the puck in the 3v3 format for the first 45 seconds. They get a great scoring chance at the net and Justin Schultz helped to keep it out of the net.
The Pens end up playing pretty sloppy with the puck often losing it, only the final play Schultz couldn’t hit Guentzel with a pass after a nice interception by Beauvillier. That made for a 2v1 with only a gassed Schultz to defend. Nelson put a shot on Murray and the puck leaked through and Nelson found it to poke home and the Isles find a way to take the win.
Three final thoughts
Pens fumble down the stretch. Up two goals with 5 minutes left in the game should be a winning situation. It wasn’t tonight for Pittsburgh, which is disappointing. Rust’s penalty late was very avoidable, yet he took it. That started the unraveling with NYI scoring not quite on the power play but tipping the momentum and starting the sequence. Shots overall in the 3rd+OT were 22-6 for the Islanders. They just kept working and chipping away and beat the clock.
Low-to-high defending needs work. The Islanders do a great job incorporating changing levels to generate chances. The Pens’ defending was exposed. First goal, passed from the point to the goal-line then quickly to the slot. Boom. Second goal, point shot tipped with no defense in sight. Boom. Third goal, PK’ing forwards collapse low in space but no one picks up Bailey. Fourth goal, Isles pass puck around, point shot with traffic. It all adds up quickly. The Pens’ style needs to tighten up in their own end, forwards and defense.
Round 2 coming up. It’s not like there was a lot of bad blood in this game but it will be interesting to see how this game carries over to next game when these two games play on Thursday night in Brooklyn. Will the Islanders play Thomas Greiss after the Pens have scored 8 goals in two games on Varlamov? Do the Pens get back Patric Hornqvist from the injury list? Can the Pens push the 2019-20 regular season series to 3 wins in 3 games against NYI? Stay tuned.