It took four games, but the Pittsburgh Penguins finally beat the New York Islanders in overtime.
Sidney Crosby rifled a shot past Rick DiPietro 3:28 into overtime Friday night to give the Penguins a 4-3 triumph at Mellon Arena.
“I don’t think we had the best first period, but in the second and third we earned the right to be in the game and ultimately win it,” Crosby said. “It was nice.”
It was the fourth time in their five meetings this year that the Penguins and Islanders needed overtime to decide the outcome. Pittsburgh won the first game, but New York rattled off three-straight triumphs via shootout before Friday night.
“Finally, we got the last laugh against those guys,” Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. “It’s been a lot of times this year that our games were tight.”
Crosby ended the Penguins’ drought against the Islanders with an exclamation point. On a 2-on-1 with Colby Armstrong on the right side, Crosby streaked down the left side of the rink and ripped a hard shot past DiPietro.
“There was a lot to think about because it was a long way down 2-on-1, but I wasn’t going to pass up a shot that late in the game,” Crosby said. “I wanted to make sure I gave it my best shot and it’s just nice to win.”
Crosby nearly gave the Penguins a win late in the third period when DiPietro misplayed a puck and Crosby fired it at the net through two defenders.
“It was kind of a tough angle and they had a couple guys back, but I just threw it at the net and it was probably an inch away from going in,” he said. “I was close there, but to get the win was nice.”
The contest also marked the NHL debut of Penguins rookie defenseman Noah Welch, who had an assist.
“I have a lot of confidence in that kid because I saw him growing early in the season. For a first game, he was solid,” Therrien said “:He got some good hits. He was moving the puck well, jumping into the play and making right decisions. He was solid 1-on-1. He didn’t take himself out of position to throw hits. For his first game, we were really impressed.”
Ryan Malone opened the game with a highlight-reel goal 2:20 into the contest. He took a puck in the Pittsburgh end, raced coast-to-coast, faked out a defender and charged in on goal. He slipped near the slot and crashed to the ice, but managed to flip the puck past Rick DiPietro as he slid past the goal.
“I ended up getting around the defender and I believe I just lost my edge and ended up on my butt,” he said with a laugh. “I figured I better put it on net and it ended up working out. I got a good view of the goal from ice level. It was definitely good to get a goal. I was just trying to put it on net and sometimes it goes in like that. I will definitely take it.”
The Islanders retaliated two minutes later when Trent Hunter slipped through the defense and slipped a puck past Marc-Andre Fleury.
Jason Blake roofed a shot past Fleury with 47 seconds remaining in the period.
Sean Bergenheim scored 1:16 into the second to make it a 3-1 Islanders lead.
The Penguins rallied for two goals to tie the game at 3-all.
Andy Hilbert scored a power-play goal with 10:08 left in the period. Crosby skated down the right wing and fired a pass to the middle. Hilbert chipped the puck past DiPietro. Sergei Gonchar assisted on the play.
Gonchar tied the game when he slammed in a rebound off Welch’s blast from the near point with 7:10 left.
“We started playing and executing our plan in the second period. Definitely, I didn’t like the way we started the game. We spent way too much time in the penalty box and had too many turnovers,” Therrien said. “It seemed like our focus was not there. In the second and third, we got back on track and it was an exciting game. When we’re doing what we’re supposed to do, we’re a tough team to play against. Next game, it’s going to be important to start on the right foot.”
Fleury finished with 25 saves to earn the win.
ICE CHIPS: Niklas Nordgren and Eric Cairns were the Penguins’ scratches…The announced attendance was 15,210.