UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP)Each time the New York Islanders tried to get some momentum, the Pittsburgh Penguins had an answer. And now they have the lead in their first-round playoff series.
Brandon Tanev scored the tiebreaking goal with 3:36 left and the Penguins beat the Islanders 5-4 in Game 3 on Thursday night to take a 2-1 series lead.
Jeff Carter scored twice, Kris Letang had a goal and two assists, and Jason Zucker also scored for the Penguins. Tristan Jarry stopped 26 shots.
”It’s a resilient group,” said Carter, a late-season pickup at the trade deadline. ”You give one up, you get right back on the horse and get working. A real strong game in that sense from our team, sticking with it, grinding it out and ultimately getting the win.”
Cal Clutterbuck scored twice, Scott Mayfield had a goal and two assists, and Anthony Beauvillier also scored for New York. Semyon Varlamov finished with 22 saves.
”No one is hanging their head,” the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal said. ”Just turn the page on to the next one.”
Game 4 is Saturday at Nassau Coliseum.
With 3:02 remaining, Brock Nelson had a look at an open net at the left of the crease after Jarry knocked Beauvillier’s shot away – but Sidney Crosby made a diving stab at Nelson’s potential tying shot, causing it to soar above the crossbar and keeping Pittsburgh ahead.
Trailing 3-1 after two periods, the Islanders pulled within one early in the third. Casey Cizikas got the puck on the right side after Mayfield fired a shot from the right point, and he slid it over to Clutterbuck, who quickly put it in from the left side at 3:46.
Tempers flared after the Islanders nearly tied the score less than two minutes later. There was pushing and shoving and all 10 skaters on the ice were sent to the box with roughing penalties. Pittsburgh’s Jake Guentzel received a second minor for slashing at the tail end of the scrum, putting the Islanders on the power play.
Just 19 seconds into the man advantage, Barzal found Beauvillier on the right side and he quickly put it in to tie it at 5:54.
”We have to figure out a way to get to our game early,” Mayfield said. ”We have to find it for a full 60 (minutes).”
After Clutterbuck got an interference penalty for running into Jarry, Carter put the Penguins back ahead 4-3 at the 7-minute mark with his second of the night.
Mayfield fired the puck at the net and it deflected off Clutterbuck and in to tie it with 5:13 left. It gave Clutterbuck his first career two-goal playoff game.
The Penguins went back ahead as Letang’s point shot deflected up in the air and Tanev swatted it down past Varlamov for the winner 1:37 later.
”Obviously, it’s a period filled with emotions,” Tanev said. ”It wasn’t our best period, but at the end of the day, we found a way to win and that’s what matters. The guys came together as a group and we battled through adversity and got the win.”
Beauvillier had a breakaway early in the second, but his backhand try went wide.
The Islanders were aggressive through the middle of the period. Mayfield tied it as he took a cross-ice pass from Barzal, skated up past Zach Aston-Reese and fired a shot from the right circle past Jarry with just under 9 minutes left.
However, the Penguins regained the lead with two goals later in the period.
Carter put them back ahead 2 1/2 minutes later as he came across the blue line and first a shot past Varlamov from the right point for his second of the series. Zucker made it 3-1 with 1:57 remaining as he skated across the middle between the circles, turned and fired a forehand shot that got past Varlamov.
Pittsburgh outshot New York 12-9 in the first period and got on the scoreboard first for the second straight game, just 1:54 in. After the Islanders failed to clear the puck out of their defensive zone, Letang fired a long shot from the right point through traffic that hit New York defenseman Ryan Pulock’s leg and past Varlamov.
Evgeni Malkin returned to the Penguins’ lineup after missing the first two games of the series with an undisclosed injury. Malkin centered the second line with Zucker and Kasperi Kapanen and had two assists. Carter moved down to the third line with Jared McCann and Frederick Gaudreau. Forward Evan Rodriguez sat out after playing the first two games.
The capacity was expanded to 6,250 fans for the Islanders’ first home playoff game since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Carolina on April 28, 2019.
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