NHL: Momentum shifts back to Penguins
Power-play goals rally Pittsburgh from early hole
A goal in overtime by Chris Kunitz, center, is cause for celebration by the Penguins, but not the Islanders’ Andrew MacDonald.
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Pittsburgh Penguins bounced back from their home disappointment and dished out their fair share to the suddenly shocked New York Islanders.
All it took was Sidney Crosby and a very powerful power play to do the trick.
Chris Kunitz scored his second man-advantage goal of the game 8:44 into overtime, off the third assist of the day by Crosby, and the Penguins rode a slew of ups and downs yesterday en route to a 5-4 victory over the Islanders that gave top-seeded Pittsburgh a 2-1 lead in the first-round series.
The Islanders came in still enjoying the positive effects of their 4-3 comeback win on Friday in Pittsburgh that gave them a surprising split of the first two games of the Eastern Conference series.
Crosby, playing his second game after missing a month because of a broken jaw, drew the decisive penalty against Brian Strait, who held the Penguins captain as he drove the net 33 seconds before the winning goal.
“He kind of wrapped me up,” Crosby said. “I pulled up looking for someone. I didn’t see anyone so I thought I would take it to the net.
“We were hoping we could get it done quickly.”
The Penguins went 3 for 5 on the power play and yielded Kyle Okposo’s short-handed goal, but held New York scoreless on its three advantages.
“We had our chances. They scored on the power plays and we didn’t,” said Islanders coach Jack Capuano, who declined to comment on the officiating. “You always talk about special teams being a big factor, and that was the difference.”
When New York scored twice in the first 5:41 to go up 2-0 in Game 3, old Nassau Coliseum rocked as it did in the Stanley Cup-winning days of the early 1980s.
Not so fast.
The Penguins stormed back with a pair of power-play goals 19 seconds apart — first by Jarome Iginla on a five-on-three advantage and then by Kunitz on the second half. When Pascal Dupuis gave Pittsburgh its first lead with one minute left in the opening period — capping the three-goal spurt in 5:42 — the early euphoria was gone in a flash.
“You have to give them credit. They got up two and they showed no quit,” said Iginla, a key late-season trade pickup by the Penguins. “It meant a lot on the road to get those two back.
“There is a lot of emotion, unpredictability in the playoffs. You have to learn to control that.”
Douglas Murray pushed Pittsburgh’s lead to 4-2 in the second, and it appeared the Penguins would cruise.
Okposo, who had a game-turning fight and game-winning goal in Game 2, started this comeback with a short-handed goal that made it 4-3 at 5:31 of the third. John Tavares tied it with 9:12 remaining in regulation with his first NHL postseason goal in his third game.
“I’m not worried about our hockey team,” Capuano said. “We’ve bounced back all year. I know the resiliency of these guys and the way they’ve battled.”
After Strait took down Crosby in overtime, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma used his timeout to rest his power-play unit, and it paid off. Crosby fed Kunitz in the slot for a hard shot that beat goalie Evgeni Nabokov to win it.