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Recap: Penguins beat Islanders in OT after a big Kris Letang night

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Kris Letang nets two goals and the Pens escape with

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Pregame

A multitude of changes for the Penguins. Jared McCann is back off the IR, and Mark Jankowski is out with a day-to-day injury. Anthony Angello slots in for his first NHL game of the season as Drew O’Connor also sits this one out.

First period

The Penguins get two power plays in the first period and do nothing with it. Tristan Jarry does his part to keep his team in it on a scramble play to find the puck and stop Jordan Eberle.

But then the Islanders cash in on their first and only power play chance of the game with Brock Nelson posting up in front of the net and tipping in Oliver Wahlstrom’s centering shot/pass to give NYI a 1-0 lead with 1:20 left in the period.

Total shots in the first are 9-7 NYI, 5v5 Corsi is a 50-50 split. NYI has a 6-5 scoring chance edge with a 2-0 5v5 high danger chance advantage.

Second period

The Pens fall behind 2-0 just 1:34 in when Mat Barzal has unlimited time and space to swoop in the offense zone and his shot flutters off a bounce and past Tristan Jarry.

As we’ve seen time and again, down multiple goals the Pens don’t just lay down and make it easy, they fight back. And it’s the maligned power play that strikes to make it a 2-1 game courtesy of Sidney Crosby winning a PP faceoff and getting a pass from Kris Letang and slapping it in as Semyon Varlamov loses his footing and is out of position.

Just 26 seconds later the Pens tie the game when Kasperi Kapanen makes a pass from behind the net to Letang who quickly shoots to the far side of Semyon Varlamov and it’s a new game at 2-2 as Letang catches Varlamov down and very deep in his net for another questionable type of goaltending, but it counts just the same.

The Pens spoil a power play chance and a bit later in the period Josh Bailey strikes from in front of the net to push the Islanders back to a lead at 3-2.

Shots in the second are 11-6 Pens as they fight back into the game but still have a deficit to climb out of in the last 20 minutes.

Third period

The Pens come out strong and just 18 seconds in Jared McCann makes a triumphant return from the IR to rifle in a shot on the rush from an Evgeni Malkin setup to tie the game at 3 a piece.

Shots in the third are 11-6 Isles as the Pens hang on courtesy of Jarry to extend the game.

Overtime

With just 26 seconds left in the extra period, Kris Letang makes a great play to skate the puck up with the open 3v3 ice and scores on the rush as J.G. Pageau deflects his shot, but not enough as it flutters in past Varlamov.

Some thoughts

  • The Pens’ resiliency has been on display a lot this season and was again tonight. They fell behind 2-0 on the road to a notoriously great defensive team. Didn’t matter, they made it 2-2 in a hurry. They fell behind again 3-2 but struck quickly at the start of the third to tie it. This team isn’t perfect but keeps finding ways to dig deep and hang around.
  • And a lot of the credit has to go to Jarry. This is the classic game when in January or early February they weren’t getting enough NHL caliber goaltending. But the past few weeks they have been getting it and Jarry has been doing more than his share to keep his team in games long enough for them to figure it out.
  • On the other end, Varlamov was quite shaky on what has been a very strong season. But a team has to take advantage of miscues and mistakes and make the opposition pay, and the Pens did just that.
  • With Jared McCann in on the second line, it was one of Evgeni Malkin’s best games in a long time. All of McCann, Malkin and Bryan Rust were 60%+ Corsi players and the line had a 70% expected goal rate to lead the team and for the first time maybe all season the Pens’ second line was a contributing force.
  • Letang’s season is coming around quickly. 2 goals and an assist tonight on 25 minutes of ice time to help fuel the offense.

A big win on the road for the Pens to get a positive result out of this one against a very tight opponent. Pittsburgh moves to 4-1-0 over NYI on the season so far, with another game tomorrow with really gives them a chance to exert dominance and make a statement for the future and put points in the bank if they can find a way again to build a winner again.