Shane Prince had a goal and an assist in his return to the lineup on Thursday, but his two points weren't enough for the Islanders to get two points, as the Isles fell 4-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.
The goalies stole the show for the first 52 minutes on Thursday, but the offensive floodgates opened down the stretch, as a 1-1 tie quickly turned into a 4-2 scoreline for Pittsburgh. Evgeni Malkin scored and Prince answered to make it 2-2, but Sidney Crosby scored the go-ahead goal at 17:35 and Phil Kessel sealed it with a power-play goal at 18:07.
"Through 55 minutes I thought this was probably one of the better games we've played in a while," Travis Hamonic said. "It's frustrating for sure."
The Islanders shrugged off a rough start that saw Patric Hornqvist finish a tic-tac-toe goal 46 seconds in, but got steadily better as the period went on, generating more than a handful of triple-A chances. Marc-Andre Fleury (35 saves) was the difference, robbing an open-net chance for Josh Bailey on an Islanders power play, while Prince deked Fleury out on a breakaway, but rang his backhand off the post.
Video: NYI@PIT: Hamonic ties the game on two-on-one break
The Islanders continued their upward trend in the second period and their persistence paid off in the form of Hamonic's first goal of the season. The play started in the Islanders' end, with Jaroslav Halak (31 saves) making a kick save, Brock Nelson rushing the puck up the ice, Prince saucering a pass to Hamonic and the defenseman burying on Fleury at 15:13.
Overall, the Islanders outshot the Penguins 17-7 in the second period.
After a tightly-contested first and a second period that favored the Islanders, the pendulum swung back in the Penguins favor to start the third. Halak was sharp early, as the Penguins outshot the Islanders 8-1 in the first half of the period, but as good as Halak's game was, the Islanders goalie wanted the go-ahead goal back, as Evgeni Malkin beat him five-hole at 12:48, making it 2-1.
The Islanders battled back and caught a lucky bounce three minutes later. With Fleury out of his net, Nelson's dump-in took a fortuitous bounce off the glass, landing on Prince's stick for the tying goal at 15:38.
Video: NYI@PIT: Prince finds the gaping net to tie the game
"I felt good," Prince said. "I was happy to be back in tonight. I felt good. I thought the team played well, but we got some tough bounces there, tough loss."
That set up another tie game down the stretch, but again the Penguins pulled ahead, with Crosby netting the eventual winner at 17:35. This time there was no comeback by the Islanders, as Kessel's power-play goal iced it for the Penguins 32 seconds later.
"We competed hard here tonight," head coach Jack Capuano said. "But we gave up two power-play goals. You're not going to win too many games when you give up a couple power-play goals. And we're not getting the offense from our forwards for whatever reason. Travis gets another one tonight, we got a fortunate bounce right there with Princey, but we have to find a way to score goals."
After playing back-to-back nights, the Islanders have two days off and return to action on Sunday when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6 p.m.