UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- An early two-goal deficit wasn't enough to keep the Pittsburgh Penguins down.
"Their D were pretty flat-footed because I had to come gap-up, so I just tried to get through there and get a shot off," said Crosby, who scored the game-tying goal eight minutes into the third period and has 15 this season.
Pittsburgh (19-9-1), which trailed 2-0 after the first period, has won four in a row. The Penguins, who made their first trip to the Coliseum since eliminating the Islanders in six games in the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, will host the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
"There's been a number of games against the Islanders, be it physical games or close games, for a number of years in the past," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Regardless of the records, they seem to always be a close, tight battle on the scoreboard. Tonight was no different."
Kyle Okposo scored twice for New York (8-15-5), which has earned a point in back-to-back games but is winless in seven. Nilsson stopped 31 of 34 shots in his second straight start.
Okposo gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead 9:53 into the game. A nice play in the neutral zone by defenseman Andrew MacDonald turned the puck the other way, and Okposo sent a feed from the bottom of the left circle intended for John Tavares, but it went off Penguins defenseman Kris Letang and trickled past Fleury over the goal line. The goal was reviewed and upheld for Okposo's seventh of the season.
Okposo scored again 3:02 later on another even-strength goal. With the Islanders continuing to control the tempo, Okposo took a pass from Tavares and let go what appeared to be a harmless shot from the top of the right circle, but it squeaked through Fleury's pads to make it 2-0.
It was the first time the Islanders held a two-goal lead since Nov. 14.
"We can talk about we did some good things, [but] we just didn't get the job done at the end of the day," said Tavares, who had two assists. "That's what matters most."
The Penguins were awarded a two-man advantage for 42 seconds late in the first after penalties against Vanek (holding the stick) and Aaron Ness (high sticking), but Nilsson made a kick save on a one-timer by Malkin from the right circle in the final seconds of the period.
"I felt good," Nilsson said. "I had some really good help from our defensemen and all the players out there. As I said last game (Saturday against the Washington Capitals), I felt comfortable out there today. I felt like I saw the puck well and [was] tracking the puck well and the defensemen kept them to the outside. I saw a lot of shots, so that made it easy for me to play."
Pittsburgh finally solved Nilsson on its top-ranked power play with 15.6 seconds remaining in the second period. With Tavares in the box for cross-checking, Malkin sent a feed from behind the net in front to Neal, who quickly tapped it past Nilsson to make it 2-1 with his ninth goal of the season.
"They started pretty hard and capitalized on their chances … we were kind of sitting back a bit," Crosby said. "I thought we stayed with it though. It definitely wasn't the start we wanted, but we stayed patient and that goal by [Neal] late in the second period to only be down one with a whole period to work with was pretty important."
Fleury kept it a one-goal game when he stopped Frans Nielsen's penalty shot with 13:07 left in the third period. Nielsen was awarded the opportunity after being slashed by Letang during a shorthanded breakaway. Fleury denied Nielsen's forehand attempt with a right-pad save.
"If that's a penalty and not a penalty shot, that could be a different result," Crosby said. "That was a big save for us."
Crosby tied it 1:07 later on the power play. With Ness in the box for high sticking, Malkin fed Crosby in the right circle, where he one-timed a shot past Nilsson to make it 2-2. It was Malkin's second assist of the game and 30th of the season.
New York had an opportunity to win late in the third, when Malkin was penalized for cross-checking Tavares with 1:47 to go. Not only did the Islanders fail to convert, but Vanek was hit with a slashing penalty at 19:36.
The Islanders face the toughest stretch on their schedule yet, a five-game road trip against Western Conference teams that begins Thursday at the St. Louis Blues. The Islanders will visit the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, Sharks and Phoenix Coyotes. The next game at the Coliseum won't take place until Dec. 14 against the Montreal Canadiens.
"These guys work," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "To me, people can say what they want to say, but at the end of the day you try to get the most out of your players and you want your guys to work, and they're working."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
|Back to top|