BROOKLYN, New York - Penguins center Jared McCann was thrown out of the third period of Pittsburgh's 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Thursday night.
Until he wasn't.
New York's Anders Lee checked Brandon Tanev from behind with a little over two minutes to play in regulation and the Islanders leading 3-2. Zach Aston-Reese took exception to the hit and dropped the gloves with Lee.
As the fight continued McCann engaged with Josh Bailey. After the kerfuffle, McCann was told by one referee that he had been ejected from the game. So, he skated to the Zamboni gate, which leads to the Penguins' locker room.
Then it was conveyed to the Penguins coaching staff that McCann had not been ejected. There is no access from the team's bench to the locker room, so defenseman Zach Trotman was ushered to the Zamboni tunnel to retrieve McCann.
But McCann had already begun undressing and had all of his upper-body gear removed. He hurriedly dressed as Trotman returned. The refs waited for some time for McCann, but dropped the puck. McCann emerged from the tunnel and waited at the Zamboni gate for a stoppage in play. The Penguins were shorthanded a man until the following whistle.
"The one ref told me to get off the ice. I think they were both kind of confused on what the call was," McCann said after the game. "I had my shoulder pads and everything off. I just had to quickly get dressed and get out there."
McCann did return in time to see the Penguins battle back to tie the game. Forward Patric Hornqvist, returning to the lineup following a seven-game absence, jammed a goal into the net with 29.9 seconds left in regulation to force overtime and earn the Penguins one point.
"You have to give our guys credit. We had guys step up," McCann said. "'Horny' was a big presence for us. We're heading in the right direction here."
For the third time in three meetings the Penguins and Islanders went to overtime. While Pittsburgh won the first meeting, New York triumphed in the past two, including tonight.
In a five-minute span, the Penguins overcame a non-ejection, confusion, rallied to tie the game and fell in overtime. But the Penguins were happy with their play, and getting a point.
"Every point is a good point," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "They're a good team. I liked a lot of our game. We have to take the point and move on. It was a hard-fought point for us."
The Penguins continue to play undermanned. Sidney Crosby (core muscle), Kris Letang (lower-body) and Nick Bjugstad (core muscle) were already missing from the lineup. Blueliner Justin Schultz was added to the list with a lower-body injury that will keep him out "longer term."
Thus, defensemen Chad Ruhwedel and Zach Trotman, recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, played in their first games of the season.
"I thought they both had good games," Sullivan said. "They kept the game simple."
And the simple play is what the Penguins are trying to do while combatting the mounting injury list.
"It was a collective effort. It was team play on both sides of the puck," Sullivan said. "That's the way we have to play given the circumstances we're in right now."