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Islanders blow another lead but recover for OT win against Penguins

February 21, 2024, 10:56 PM ET [172 Comments]
Ben Shelley
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The New York Islanders snapped their three-game losing skid last night, beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-4 in overtime.

Despite a decent start to the opening frame, it was Pittsburgh who struck first about two-thirds of the way through the period. After Ilya Sorokin made a great save on Bryan Rust with an outstretched pad, the Islanders weren’t able to clear the puck and eventually, Rickard Rakell found Marcus Pettersson with a great pass, to open the scoring for the Penguins.

The Islanders did have a power play shortly after but didn’t convert, and remained down through 20 minutes.

However, Brock Nelson managed to tie the game for New York early into the second period, getting by both Erik Karlsson and Marcus Pettersson to cut to the backhand and beat Alex Nedeljkovic for a nice goal.

Then while Mathew Barzal took a bit of a lazy penalty immediately following the Nelson goal, the Islanders managed to kill the penalty and Barzal was able to take a pass coming out of the box and go in alone to roof a shot over Nedeljkovic, giving New York the lead.

The Islanders went on to control a lot of the early portion of the period from there, and a little later on, Simon Holmstrom forced a bad turnover from Erik Karlsson, and managed to stuff a puck past Nedeljkovic, extending New York’s lead to 3-1.

Pittsburgh got one back though, with Valtteri Puustinen putting a puck through a screen to beat Sorokin only a few minutes later. Patrick Roy did try challenging the call for a hand pass (on somewhat of a strange decision), but it was unsuccessful, and the Islanders found themselves killing a penalty as a result. The Penguins had a few close chances but New York managed to escape, before Mike Reilly ended up taking a penalty shortly after. As a result, New York ended the frame up one, but Pittsburgh had a bit of momentum to end the frame.

After the Islanders managed to kill the penalty to begin the third period though, we saw a quiet first half of the frame. However, midway through the period, Mike Reilly put a nice shot past Nedeljkovic on the blocker side, extending the lead to 4-2, setting the Islanders up in a good spot to lock things down defensively and protect the lead.

However, only minutes later Valtteri Puustinen scored his second goal of the game off a rebound that Sorokin probably shouldn’t have allowed, bringing the Penguins back to within one. Then only about a minute after that, Drew O’Connor threw a puck to the net and it went off Anders Lee’s skate and in, and all of a sudden it was a tie game, with the Islanders blowing yet another multi-goal lead. New York was outshot pretty badly in the frame overall, but the game remained tied through regulation.

Early into overtime though, Adam Pelech took the puck up ice and when he was given a bit of room on an entry, Pelech wired a wrist shot past Nedeljkovic for his first goal of the season, winning it for the Islanders.

Obviously, it was a huge win for New York, as we approach the point where they can’t really afford to drop any more points. It's the third third straight game going past regulation and all points matter. It also marks the first win over Pittsburgh this year, after dropping both of the first two matchups (including the ugly 7-0 loss).

Of course, the Islanders did narrowly avoid disaster, blowing yet another multi-goal lead. But there was quite a bit to like about the game overall, including the fact that the team’s penalty kill came through, going 3-for-3 on kills. The tides could have turned at the end of the second period/start of the third period, but the Islanders were able to hold off the Penguins on their power plays.

It’s also good to see the Islanders scoring, with another five-goal game, marking the third time across the last five games that the team has scored at least five goals. Mathew Barzal continues what could go down as the most productive season of his career, currently riding an eight-game point streak. It was another multi-point game for Brock Nelson as well, now with three goals and seven points in his last six games.

On the negative side though, Casey Cizikas ended up leaving the game and not returning. While he had temporarily left after a collision with Simon Holmstrom, upon returning, he ended up taking an Erik Karlsson shot to the hand later. Kyle MacLean has since been recalled from Bridgeport as a result.

Regardless, it’s a huge win against a team in a similarly desperate position. New York still has 27 games remaining and needs to go on a bit of a run here (though they are already technically riding a three-game point streak right now). They’ll face the St. Louis Blues tomorrow in another road matchup.


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