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Islanders try to again even series with Penguins

by Brian Hunter /


(Pittsburgh leads best-of-7 series, 2-1)


Big story: After the Pittsburgh Penguins blitzed the New York Islanders in the series opener, the team getting off to the fast start hasn't fared so well in the last two games. The Islanders earned a split in Pittsburgh by rallying from a 3-1 deficit after the first period of Game 2, but after they raced to a 2-0 lead in Game 3, electrifying the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum crowd, the Penguins responded to score the next four goals and eventually earned a 5-4 overtime win when Chris Kunitz connected on a power play 8:44 into overtime. They'll now aim to take a 3-1 lead back to Consol Energy Center.

Team Scope:

Penguins: When it went on a two-man advantage with just over seven minutes remaining in the first period of Game 3, Pittsburgh was reeling. The Penguins gave up the final three goals of Game 2 to lose, then a couple quick ones on Sunday. But everything turned when Jarome Iginla tipped in a Kris Letang shot and then Kunitz scored on a breakaway 19 seconds later.

Even though the Penguins would let a two-goal lead of their own slip away in the third, Kunitz rescued them with his second and the team's third power-play goal of the afternoon. Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves in an up-and-down performance, but despite taking some blows the No. 1 seed is still in the driver's seat in this series.

"We did a great job of hanging in there, being able to get the momentum back in our favor," Iginla told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Islanders: Carrying the momentum into its first home game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in six years, New York couldn't have followed the blueprint much better -- Matt Moulson and Casey Cizikas scored in the first 5:41 of Game 3 and it looked as though the Islanders might return the favor from their Game 1 defeat.

Of course, the Penguins woke up, but the Islanders still recovered after finding themselves down 4-2 heading into the third. A shorthanded goal by Kyle Okposo got the comeback started, then John Tavares forced overtime with his first career playoff goal. A holding penalty by Brian Strait led to the game-winner by Kunitz, but the Islanders weren't hanging their heads afterward.

"We didn't come into this series wanting to make it close. We wanted to win the series. We believe in ourselves and all the guys in here," Moulson said. "All year, I think we've been in situations like this. We just need to stick to our game. We can't get too high or too low at any point."

Who's hot: Sidney Crosby had three assists in Game 3 after scoring two goals in his return to the lineup on Friday. Evgeni Malkin made a great pass to set up the first Kunitz goal and has three straight multi-point games to start the series. Iginla had two assists in each of the first two games before scoring his first playoff goal for the Penguins on Sunday. Kunitz finished the game with three points. … Moulson and Okposo have each scored in consecutive games for the Islanders.

Injury report: Pittsburgh has played the entire series without defenseman Brooks Orpik (lower body) while forward James Neal skated 8:09 in Game 1 before sustaining an ankle injury that has sidelined him the past two games. Both took part in an optional skate on Monday.

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